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Productivity, the pressure to perform & a call for “satisfying productivity”

Even though I like to be productive and get things done, I’m not a big fan of the common term and idea of ‘productivity’ – because too often, ‘productivity’ is (still) seen like a goal and a value in itself.

It’s perceived as something to strive for, a good trait.

Productivity as VALUE

I read it all the time that people write how productive their day was and they get likes and thumbs-up for that. I catch myself saying to myself at the end of the day that this was a productive day and that I (should) feel proud and happy. But it’s not just the individual: So many companies think productivity-driven and place productivity above all other values. The pressure to perform and produce is inherent and everywhere.

Productivity as WORTHINESS

Tightly connected to this glorification of being productive or seeing productivity as a value itself is the notion of worthiness. Our society associates productivity with worthiness: The more productive you are, the more other people are looking up to you. (Same with being busy: the busier you are, the more honoured you are.) – This is a generalisation, I’m well aware of that. Also, there is a change in Western mindset on the rise, possibly having the power to dissolve this connection step by step, but for now the link between productivity and worthiness seems to be unbroken. It’s so deeply rooted and conditioned in our society.

I am really surprised how many young women have a problem with winding down

I am really surprised by how many women I am following on Instagram – women living a conscious lifestyle, having their dream and mindful businesses, appearing to have it all, and, in my eyes, being in the Zen with themselves all the time – have a problem with winding down, with pausing and taking a break from doing and being productive. To tell the truth, I was kind of shocked to hear this. These gorgeous, intelligent, empowered women are running and running, producing and producing – and here and there they are opening up and admit that they need a break. That they have a weak spot when it comes to slowing down and just doing nothing for a couple of weeks.


I mean – how? Why?

To me it’s a clear sign that our society is still way too productivity-centred, and that’s why we so often – unconsciously or not – connect productivity to our own worth. If we’re not doing and producing results, we’re nothing. – Honestly, this can only be total BS.

Question for you:

Have you ever had the feeling that you are producing, but without going anywhere? Or that you had a super productive day, but felt drained or still overwhelmed instead of happy and proud of yourself? If so, read on.

What are you truly looking for?

I go through these phases every now and then: I’m busy and productive, ticking todos off my list. At the end of the day or at the end of the week, however, when I stop and reflect, I see that I crossed off a lot of tasks, but didn’t really do anything I truly WANT. Or I feel the urge to be up and running, when instead what I truly NEED would be a pause, a cuppa in the sunshine and just doing nothing.

What to do?

1. Take a break. Everyone’s different here, or needs a different intensity in their current situation, but taking a break always helps – be it a couple of weeks off, a day or just ten minutes to breathe and clear your head. A break works wonders. But first of all it’s restorative and healthy.

2. Reflect & prioritize. Think about what you really want and, accordingly, where you want to channel your productivity. There are always tasks that have to be done (taxes, taking out the trash), but the major – or at least a good – part of your energy should be flowing towards the life you wanna live.

No matter where you are right now – I think it’s time to start looking at the term ‘productivity’ in a more mindful sense, and connect it to our life goals and the values that we cherish. We could call it “satisfying productivity”, maybe even coin it “mindful productivity” (very trendy and buzzwordy, don’t you think?).

What do you think? How’s your take on productivity and how do you perceive “being productive”?

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