#61: How to Escape the Productivity Police (and still get stuff done)

goals make things easy over-working stress taking action Jul 20, 2023
Kirsten Parker
#61: How to Escape the Productivity Police (and still get stuff done)

There's a certain idea that strikes fear into the hearts of hard-working high-achievers everywhere…

"You don’t have to be productive all the time.” 😱

Iiiii know:

  • What if one "lazy day" becomes the norm forever?
  • What if we lose momentum and can never get back up to speed?
  • Surely our days don't count when we haven't gotten anything "productive" done...!

All of the above are reasons our brains suggest to just keep working. And they're NOT reasons we like. 

They're why you end up working on vacation, or part of every Saturday, or putting in more hours on a beautiful sunny day you’d really rather be outside.

Now lemme be clear: Those things are not “bad.” I've done all of 'em - I get it!

But there’s a difference between consciously deciding to be productive for reasons you like and letting those inner Productivity Police decide for you.


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And since you can’t authentically stand behind the reasoning that “you should just always work more” or “you’re worthless if you don’t” — you can’t stand behind the choices you make out of that reasoning.

That's why...

  • You work over vacation but guilt trip yourself for it.
  • You put in a couple hours every Saturday but resent your work...and yourself...and Saturday.
  • You stay planted at your desk instead of enjoying the fresh air and feel kind of like a victim or prisoner in your own life

Dramatic-ish, but that’s how we feel when we don’t feel in charge of our choices!

Here’s how to free yourself from the Productivity Police and take charge of how you feel (and act) when it comes to  getting sh** done.


#1: Instead of asking How can I be more productive? ask What’s the most important result I need to create this week?

“Productivity” is like money — how are you ever gonna know it’s enough?

To break the habit of always believing you’re falling short no matter what you do, you have to start giving yourself specific deliverables and then watching yourself deliver them. You can’t argue with the “enoughness” of results you can see.

#2: Schedule time for a zoom out

When you get into overwhelm waves of “I’m not getting enough done / I’m behind on everything / holy bajoly cannoli,” that’s like a burst pipe. We’re not gonna fix it with a paper towel.

That is...that giant feeling won’t go away if you just put your head down and “work harder” on this one thing in front of you.

Sometimes you genuinely need to pause the daily work and take a high-level look at what’s going on:

  • Look at ongoing & upcoming projects (work-wise but also life and FUN, like a vacation that won’t get planned unless you make time to plan it…) and write them down - do not try to keep all this stuff in your head, that takes 5x as much of your energy!
  • Look at systems that need updating, installing or replacing. Maybe how things worked two years ago doesn’t make sense anymore and you need to change how you’re doing it - like your system for picking up/transporting your kids all around town. It’ll take some work to get a new system in place, but it’s worth it for the long-term gains and EASE.
  • Look for where you need help. There’s likely an assumption happening that you need to figure all of this out yourself and do it alone. You don’t.

#3: Check if you’re in a new season!

Sometimes we simply don’t feel like working ALL the time. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

It can be part of your normal humaning that you accept and embrace.

Remember your conditioning — what you’ve been taught to believe by your family / culture / industry…"You should be working all the time, you should only take two weeks off a year, you need to pay your dues for 5 hard years then you can feel better later (etc)" and question what needs questioning.

If it’s the middle of July…you may just not feel like working a ton. And that may be just fine. See if you’re looking for permission from yourself to change gears temporarily, and really check if there’s a reason you like not to before you shut it down!

I know you want to get stuff done — I’m with you — but I also know you want to enjoy daily life more and stop feeling like you never do enough. 

Deep down, you and I both know you’re doing A LOT — and we also know that beating yourself up is not the winning strategy to get your next goal accomplished.

Have fun creating a world without Productivity Police! I guarantee you’ll get more meaningful stuff done, but more importantly, you’ll feel your best doing it.

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