Escaping the Productivity Trap: Doing Less to Achieve More

We all have, one day, looked for advice online on how to increase our productivity. From the essential to-do-list to more esoteric practices such as the Pareto Principle or the Pomodoro Technique, we have all tried something to do more. However, despite our attempts, you and I probably struggle to finish all the tasks we set ourselves to achieve. In addition, not being able to meet these daily goals often makes us feel guilty. Why are we feeling so bad after a long-day watching Netflix on your bed? Why do we always feel like we should be doing more and better with our lives?

Often, we think that time management is THE solution to make our lives more productive. We tell ourselves: “If I attain all my goals, I will be a better version of myself”. But is it true? Should we always try to do more to feel more valuable as individuals?  By chasing productivity at all costs, don’t you feel tired, overwhelmed, by all these tasks you have set out to do but you failed to accomplish?

In our quest for productivity, we always want to do more and often forget that the way we chose to accomplish something often matters as much as the result. We neglect to enjoy the process and only focus on the final outcome. Lost in our endless list of goals and resolutions, we just want to get over with all these tasks to feel free from our obligations. But isn’t this counter-productive?

We live in a society where we have been told that every minute of our time should be dedicated to accomplishing something. We live with this fear of other people seeing us as lazy, undedicated, sluggish individuals. We chase productivity as if it is the answer to everything.

But what can YOU do to reverse this trend? How can you regain control and focus on what really matters? How can you get out of this productivity-at-all cost spiral you lost yourself in over the years? 


1. Stop trying to reach unachievable and unrealistic goals

First and foremost, you have to understand that you cannot do everything at the same time. We are feeding ourselves with content from people promoting their seemingly perfect lifestyle. They are up early, exercise, eat healthy, get their dream job, learn three languages at the same time…but is it really realistic? No. It is hardly difficult to imagine someone being able to carry out all these tasks at the same time and you have to acknowledge this to understand the second point.

2. Focus on what matters the most

Now that you accept that you may have to let go of some tasks, it is important that you focus on what you enjoy the most, in other words, what makes you happy. We are often overly influenced by other people’s actions and we think that we should imitate them. Consuming all these self-development videos and articles can make you think that you are doing nothing with your life, but it is wrong. If the influencer you like enjoys doing two hours of sport at 6 am, good for him/her. But if you don’t even like sport and if you hate waking up early, why would you do the same? Stop comparing yourself to other people. You will only achieve what some may call “self-realization” if you focus on what is important to you. Pick this one thing that brings you so much joy and keep doing it. Do not force yourself to do things you don’t wanna do in the first place.

3. It is okay to rest

One last point, and perhaps the most important:  it is fine to do nothing. You have to accept the fact that you do not need to be busy at all times. Even if you get bored, it is perhaps for the best. According to a recent study, we are even more creative when we let our minds wander. Yet, by keeping ourselves occupy at all costs, we never get the chance to explore all the possibilities of our brain. Stop trying to fight this feeling of guilt because you are not doing enough. You cannot always pursue a frenetic life chasing after everything. You need to step back and take time to evaluate what really matters to you.


This article is not intended to shame productive people, but to make you realize that it is important to find a balance between achieving things that are significant to you and taking care of yourself. Always striving to do more and more will not necessarily make you happy, but listening to yourself and what you truly want may.