How to Stop the Obsession with Productivity

It seems as though everywhere we turn, tips to increase productivity are forced down our throats. As evidenced by the endless advertisements, blog posts, and self-help articles, everyone is trying to sell the notion that a productive lifestyle is the best lifestyle. Society celebrates productivity, even going so far as to equate it with success. While productivity can of course lead to achievements and prosperity, it is not the only ingredient in the recipe for “success.” 

American culture enforces the idea that a productive day equals a good day, and while this may be true in some scenarios, it creates a false narrative that the inverse is also true. A day devoid of productivity does not make a bad day. Sometimes being unproductive is the most productive thing we can do for ourselves.

While it is important to work towards achieving goals and accomplishing necessary tasks, it’s not the end of the world if some things are not crossed off your to-do list by the end of the day. Because we are constantly pressured to work efficiently, it can be difficult to forgive ourselves for not accomplishing all that we set out to do. However, it is important to remember that respecting our personal needs—whether that be time off, an extended lunch break, or help from others—should be prioritized just as much, if not more, than managing everything on our plates.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the definition of productivity does not have to be limited to the completion of assignments and professional work. Making a phone call to a relative you haven’t heard from in a while, going outside for a walk when the weather is particularly pleasant, or even preparing yourself an extra large cup of coffee can be considered “productive” if it betters your day, or the day of someone around you.

With all of that said, I hope this article was a source of motivation to face that to-do list with confidence and determination, as well as a reminder that productivity is what you make of it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, even if something doesn’t get done as soon as you want it to. Tomorrow isn’t going anywhere.