How to fight productivity fatigue after the pandemic

I knew we’d hit peak productivity after I learn a narrative espousing the advantages of hanging the other way up. Whether or not you purchased a particular desk or strapped on gravity boots, the article instructed that common “inversion breaks” might enable you to obtain surgical focus and crush your to-do listing.

Over the previous decade, we’ve solid an advanced relationship with productivity. Consultants, psychologists, writers, and even founders like me inspired individuals to hack, optimize, and maximize their time to the level the place phrases like productivity fatigue and productivity shame started to flourish. Then the pandemic hit.

As we take the first tentative steps towards normalcy and emerge from lockdown, wide-eyed and slightly cautious of one another, what ought to productivity seem like? Will we strive to make up for what seems like misplaced time? Or will we lastly uncover how to embrace a slower life, together with every little thing we missed throughout a 12 months of isolation?

Now could be the excellent time to reset our imaginative and prescient of productivity. I typically return to writer James Clear’s excellent definition: “We frequently assume that productivity means getting extra issues achieved every day. Mistaken. Productivity is getting vital issues achieved constantly. And it doesn’t matter what you’re engaged on, there are only some issues which can be actually vital.”

I additionally do not forget that as an alternative of hitting endless targets or pushing the bar ever greater, we crave constant progress. “Of all the issues that may enhance feelings, motivation, and perceptions throughout a workday, the single most vital is making progress in significant work,” write researchers Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer in Harvard Enterprise Assessment. “And the extra continuously individuals expertise that sense of progress, the extra possible they’re to be creatively productive in the long term.”

I’m not a hard-core life-hack fanatic. I’m extra possible to speak about choosing olives with my household in Turkey than my morning routine. My firm doesn’t set laborious deadlines; we urge workers to defend their downtime, and we encourage common holidays. However after a tough 12 months of grief and loss, I’m attempting to redefine productivity—and I invite you to do the identical. Listed below are three easy techniques I’m utilizing to assist this shift.


Perhaps you’ve tried a digital detox, like avoiding units on Saturday. It’s a wise concept, however I’m satisfied we’d like to drastically scale back what we cram into our heads all week lengthy. In the Nineteen Nineties, psychiatrist Nancy C. Andreasen coined the acronym REST (random episodic silent thought) to describe the free affiliation our brains interact in throughout quiet rest. She’s at present learning a small group of artists, scientists, mathematicians, and others working at the prime of demanding fields.

For a lot of of the individuals, “letting their thoughts run freely is a giant useful resource for his or her creativity,” Andreasen told The Washington Publish. In different phrases, productivity requires a gradual provide of novel ideas that come up solely by way of relaxation. We want to restock our psychological cabinets if we wish to do significant work.


To replenish your thoughts all through the day, contemplate the newest lifestyle philosophy to comply with hygge, ikigai, and friluftsliv. It’s referred to as niksen, which is the Dutch art of doing nothing. Whereas it’s bewildering to suppose we’d like encouragement to watch the espresso brew or stare out the window, niksen is a uncommon expertise for many people.

While you end a job, cease for a second earlier than beginning the subsequent one. Shut your eyes and really feel the solar in your face. Brush your tooth with out scrolling Instagram. Make your lunch in silence, if doable, with out calls or podcasts for firm. There’s a motive so many individuals have sensible concepts in the bathe; your thoughts has a valuable jiffy to roam free.

I do know phrases like niksen can really feel gimmicky, however reclaiming small pockets of time might help to recalibrate your productivity. Observe individuals ready in a lineup and it’s clear that doing nothing is sort of a radical act. However watching the birds or chilling on a park bench makes it simpler to do not forget that you’re not a machine designed to obtain and produce.


Discover I didn’t say “comply with your ardour.” After we obsess about productivity, we miss day by day alternatives to expertise pleasure, even in tiny slices. The pandemic reminded us that life is fleeting. We are able to’t take easy pleasures, like ingesting espresso with a good friend, without any consideration. Work is one other probability to discover what makes us comfortable. It’s a privilege, in fact, however once you comply with your curiosity, stretch your expertise, and take artistic dangers, stress diminishes and also you’re extra possible to enter a flow state.

Meditation is one other good way to discover what issues. By now, it most likely seems like a multivitamin or a ought to in your listing, however there’s a motive everybody suggests it: Mindfulness helps. A couple of minutes spent following your breath or watching your ideas flutter in the breeze calms the mind. What typically emerges is a little bit of perspective; perhaps even a glimmer of readability about how and why you’re working, and what might make it higher. At the very least, it’s an entire lot simpler than hanging the other way up.

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