Being more productive isn't all it's cracked up to be. And in today's audio postcard I talk about why productivity is not helpful if you're burned out.
Today's question: What's one thing you could do with your extra time . . . for yourself?
Leave a comment and share your ideas!
Rather read than listen?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and burned out it feels like your most pressing issue is time – specifically, the lack of time. It seems like your biggest problem is that you don’t have enough time to do all the things you need to get done.
All your stress comes from the time you don’t have. And so to try to “fix” that problem, you think you need to focus more and work harder on doing a better job of managing your time.
So you start reading about time management and researching tips and tools for being more productive. You find tons of productivity hacks – on Pinterest, in books, on blogs – and you get so excited because you feel like you’ve finally found the answer to your problems. What a relief!
So you pick the productivity hacks and time management tools that have worked well for other people and you start using them. You’re working so hard – striving for peak productivity because that’s the thing that will solve your problem and finally help you get things under control.
And you do get more productive. The hacks work!
But then guess what happens? As your productivity increases and you get better at getting more done in less time you end up using that spare time to do more work.
You perfect the techniques of becoming a get-more-done machine. And the result is that you feel even more overwhelmed and burned out – not less. Which then makes you feel like a complete and total failure – that you must just not be productive enough and you’re doing it all wrong.
Are you starting to see the vicious cycle this creates?
Here’s the thing, there’s nothing inherently wrong with productivity and learning how to manage your time. The problem comes in with how you utilize your newfound time management skills.
Managing your time better is awesome. But where you need to be careful is how you use the time you’ve managed to free up.
If you’re using it to keep getting more and more done, you’re working against yourself. Getting more productive to do more work is not going to help you feel less overwhelmed and burned out. It’s going to do the opposite.
Here’s something else to think about. What if you got totally crazy and thought about being less productive? Think about things you’re currently spending your time on. Are there things you could completely drop or spend less time on?
How much time could you free up if you stopped doing things that you don’t need to do? Or that someone else could do? This is a tough one because its easy to get into the habit of thinking that all the things you do are absolutely necessary, that you're the only one who can do them and the world will fall apart if you stop doing them. But would it really?
Take some time and ask yourself that question – really ask. I’d be willing to bet that for at least a handful of the things you do, you could stop doing them and everything would be totally fine.
The key – whether you’re going to create more time by being more productive or less productive – is to use the time you’ve freed up differently. Here’s a totally radical thought… What if you used that time for yourself?!
Because working yourself into the ground isn’t getting you anywhere. Well, not anywhere but overwhelmed and burned out. I know because I’ve done it myself and I’ve talked to plenty of other people who have too. (You're in good company.)
As you work to become a productivity Queen, please don’t forget to use the free time you’ve created to relax and renew your energy. That way, when you get back to doing your work, you’ll be able to be more creative, effective and productive.