Why your focus on productivity shouldn’t set back your passions

It’s late Friday night once I’m on a Zoom name with Jamie, an formidable younger entrepreneur I’ve been mentoring for the previous yr. He’s going on about his newest enterprise and the fast development his new firm has seen in just some brief months. “That’s great information,” I inform him. “However keep in mind to tempo your self.”

“What’s energizing you essentially the most proper now?” I ask. He laughs and shakes his head. “For the time being? Not a lot.”

As an alternative, Jamie tells me concerning the late hours he’s stored attempting to get as a lot achieved as potential. He describes the weekend emails and dozens of duties that await him each morning. “I’m type of drowning,” he says. It’s an trustworthy however sadly acquainted chorus. As a frontrunner, our dream is hitting peak productivity. There’s little doubt that essentially the most profitable organizations are those who nurture productivity within the office. However what occurs once we go an inch too far and take it to the acute?


In Jamie’s case, burning the candle at each ends was accelerating his firm’s development, but it surely was additionally costing him one thing way more useful: his ardour. Sociologist and Quick Firm contributor, Tracy Brower, argues that an obsession with productivity tends to slim our view—an impact that may be demotivating. “A productivity-above-all lens tends to place our consideration on the main points and nitty-gritty components of our job, somewhat than the massive image,” she writes. Not solely that, Brower notes that this sort of hyperfocus may be detrimental as a result of it provides strain. “That may be extraordinarily paralyzing.” Subsequently, it’s essential that leaders and staff hit a contented medium.

A want to scale rapidly is commonly the wrongdoer behind an obsession with productivity. Nonetheless, this relentless pursuit for income and development solely serves to kill the eagerness that helped construct your enterprise within the first place.

Ardour fuels our inventive power and equips us to make one thing significant from what we do. With out it, we’re simply spinning our wheels. Editor at RescueTime, Jory MacKay, writes that “creativity relies upon on an openness to new concepts, freedom to discover, and discovering function in your work. However all these qualities disappear if you’re burnt out.”

And it’s not simply our work that’s affected; our general satisfaction with life is affected. Students and writers, from all skilled spheres, have identified America’s obsession with productivity and the deleterious results a scarcity of downtime can have on well being and happiness. In case you’re taking on an excessive amount of and struggling to summon motivation, listed below are three ways that will help you reignite your ardour, and regain your sense of peace and satisfaction.

Prioritize stimulating work

All of us need to get by means of a specific amount of tedious duties we have now to finish, but it surely shouldn’t take up the majority of your day. Whereas taking on as many uninteresting, repetitive initiatives as potential may make you are feeling extra productive, in actuality it’s sucking the inventive power out of you.

“When your psychological sources are restricted, you could be certain that they’re going to the best duties,” says Brower. “Burnout decimates your motivation, making working on initiatives you’re bored with an agonizing course of.”


In different phrases, the work we take on immediately impacts our temper and drive. To fight this psychological fatigue, Brower recommends filling your plate with issues that add worth and make you excited to enter work within the morning.

Know your limits

Over the course of my firm’s trajectory, I’ve had frequent conversations with entrepreneurs like Jamie, who need to do all of it. They’re keen and bold, typically evaluating their efforts to giants like Google or Amazon. However all this power typically makes them take on an excessive amount of too quickly. It’s clear that they didn’t know their limits. I get it: I used to be as soon as them.

However one of many largest classes I’ve discovered in constructing my enterprise over the previous 15 years has been straying removed from “productivity tradition.”

For me, being busy is not synonymous with success. By not overcommitting myself—or saying sure to each alternative that comes my means—I can put my consideration the place it issues most: within the ardour to hold my enterprise ahead.

“Focusing an excessive amount of on productivity may be like setting the web too excessive—if one thing feels unreachable, it’s not even price attempting,” Brower explains. “That’s why, in lots of situations, you must put much less strain on your self to maintain your motivation greater.”

Realizing your limits takes time and concerted effort, however when you do, your drive will improve tenfold.

Select which means over productivity

“The pandemic has modified many individuals’s sense of function and self-identity,” writes Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg for Harvard Enterprise Evaluate. She explains that in improvement psychology “blandness or a scarcity of emotion is a protection mechanism in response to confusion, loss, and the emotional toil of adapting to a brand new set of circumstances.”

She’s not unsuitable. Making an attempt to be productive with an empty emotional reservoir is an train in futility.

So then what’s the antidote? In my humble opinion, it comes all the way down to cultivating a sense of which means, in what we do. Inevitably, doing extra for the sake of getting extra achieved gained’t assist us attain our life targets.

As Steve Jobs famously shared in a 2005 tackle, “your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”