Stop With The Productivity Pitches!

I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia. ~ Woody Allen

Google “personal productivity” and out gush 102,000 blogs and 2,440,000 articles.  Among them you can learn 15 Ways to Maximize Your Lunch Hour. Call me crazy but I like a quiet lunch followed by a nap. If I want to maximize anything, it’s a longer siesta! One productivity guru promises that you too can Live A Stress Free Life With Time Management. Really? If it were that easy, the sales of Ativan would plummet.

My beef with the cult of productivity is that it implies that through increased efficiency we’ll get more done, have more free time, and be happier.  It feeds on our desire to have it all. News Flash! Happiness can’t be achieved through productivity.

Don’t get me wrong. Productivity has its place as long as it doesn’t become an end in itself. Spending our days checking things off lists, getting things done, and measuring our progress won’t ultimately make us happier or our business more successful.

Here’s a modest proposal. Rather than being caught up in the productivity game, just give up! That’s right. Give up.

Let me illustrate with a personal example. Some years ago I decided to transition out of documentary filmmaking  and become a  life coach. I enrolled with the Coaches Training Institute and after a rigorous year graduated as a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.  I worked hard for the first couple of years marketing, honing my skills, and building a small client base. One day it dawned on me that I really wasn’t happy spending my time on a telephone coaching clients. No amount of increased efficiency was going to change that fact. So I gave up coaching. It wasn’t easy but I needed to move on.  I’m glad I did.

Giving up means acceptance of things as they are. It means stopping the constant need to change things. As “crazy” as it sounds, giving up will ultimately make you happier and your work more joyful.

What can you give up? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • give up being super productive
  • give up trying to be perfect
  • give up trying to be all things to all people
  • give up worrying about the competition
  • give up working 12 hour days
  • give up  working at happiness
  • give up all the “stuff” that’s useless
  • give up toxic acquaintances
  • give up trying to be #1
  • give up  the self-improvement merry-go-round

Woody Allen’s humorous take on speed-reading gets at the heart of an obsession with productivity.  In our drive for ever-increasing efficiency we rob ourselves of life’s very essence.

What do you think? What are you prepared to give up?

Photo by Phil Gilbert

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10 Responses to Stop With The Productivity Pitches!

  1. Well said! A few years ago I gave up trying to be superhuman, holding down a 60 hour a week job, being a good mother and wife ( whatever that means). I left the rat race and focused on my family and a few things that make me happy, reading, writing and genealogy. I’m much happier now that life is simpler and so is my family. I would rather set this sort of example for my girls then the superhuman example I was striving for in my previous life.

  2. YAY!! Another Dan rant! You go, boy!!!
    I gave up on other people’s definitions of productivity long ago and have found a simple guideline to creating success on my own terms: Do what gives you joy.
    Dan, sounds to me like you find joy in napping. Nap away, my friend! And may the ripples of your napping spread peace across this troubled world.

    • @Pattie Whitehouse. Now that I’m fully alert from my nap, I can respond to your comments. ;-) I agree that doing what gives you joy is certainly a key to happiness and an important ingredient to any successful business. And for those who think napping is a waste of time, studies show that it actually has numerous benefits. If it was good enough for Winston Churchill, it’s good enough for me!

  3. Dan, I love your post! I just posted an article over on about using journaling to help achieve goals. I think I’ll post a link to your article as an antidote to mine :-) .

  4. Michael Wirth

    What I loved about your posting was your willingness to examine a career committment to which you had devoted enormous time and effort and conclude that you weren’t having a good time, for what ever reason. And then you acted in your own best interest instead of continuing to “just work a little harder” or “just hang in there, it has to get better.” In other words– If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail.
    Dan, what a wonderful posting about the rewards of an examined life.

  5. Pingback: Blogtalk: Journaling News — Writing Through Life

  6. Pingback: 10 Reasons You Should Just Give Up « Attack of the Lists

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