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Productivity Shame: How To Stop Feeling Like You Haven't Done 'Enough'

A Threshold Of Success

Take a good look at your life, and the goals you have set, and find out that sweet spot, the threshold of success that you think is ‘enough’ for you to feel productive and successful.

Example: At Google, projects have multiple objectives but instead of an all-or-nothing situation, they have Objective and Key Results (OKRs) which let them set a success threshold (usually 60 to 70 per cent) so that they feel challenged and motivated and at the same time do not feel like a failure.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Productivity Shame: How To Stop Feeling Like You Haven't Done 'Enough'

Productivity Shame: How To Stop Feeling Like You Haven't Done 'Enough'

https://blog.doist.com/productivity-shame/

blog.doist.com

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Key Ideas

Productivity Shame

Work is never finished, and we are unable to disconnect from it, causing us to experience productivity shame, impacting our happiness and creativity.

The modern working profiles (like knowledge work and remote work) do not have strict guidelines on a day’s productivity or any clear deliverables. It relies on a constant flow of communication, collaboration and multiple switching of context.

The Busyness Paradox: Addicted To Being Busy

  • Personal productivity is not about all-round efficiency, and it is wrong to think about your input as that of a machine in a factory unit.
  • This is further complicated by our mistaken assumption that being in demand means that we are doing a splendid job.
  • We blur our all boundaries between our work and personal life and every minute of the day is to be kept busy as we rush to attend every meeting, cross out every task from the to-do list or to answer every email that we get.

Completion Bias

Our brain starts to favour small tasks that give a false impression of productivity (woohoo! I just sent out fifty emails!) while we neglect the large, complex but meaningful tasks.

This is known as the completion bias.

Changing How We Understand Productivity

We are not a factory pumping out products. Our constant switching of context, and checking our smartphone notifications/email has a huge impact on our productivity, focus and our ability to get things done. We are rarely productive in the real sense but feel productive doing pseudo-work all the time.


Productivity is not getting more stuff done every day, but getting important stuff done in a consistent manner.

The Progress Principle

If we don’t see enough progress by the end of the day, it feels (to us or our superiors) like we haven’t done enough.

Apart from the completion bias, where our brain seems hardwired to wanting to finish the given tasks, we are also having another cognitive bias called the planning fallacy, in which the brain is unable to estimate how long any task would take.

The answer is The Progress Principle, the art of reducing big, audacious goals into small chunks of doable and easily trackable tasks that provide us with a sense of accomplishment.

The Motivation Trap

Our self-motivation and excitement have a relatively short life span, and while we want to be motivated before we start something, it is only possible once we have begun. This paradox is called the Motivation Trap and basically implies that action precedes motivation and not the other way round.

The trick is to to create systems and tools that get things done and sets us up for future success.

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Getting Things Done is a productivity system that helps us capture our work in one place and manage where our attention is going to be. The five steps of GTD are:

  1. Capturing one’s ideas in a tool which is an app of your choice.
  2. Clarifying each task to it’s next most easy step that reduces any friction.
  3. Organizing each task by priority level and due date.
  4. Review and reflect on your to-do list.
  5. Engage yourself and get in action mode, implementing the list.

Learning To Disconnect From Work

There are four elements that need to be done as a ritual to disconnect from work:

  1. Create a shutdown ritual each evening.
  2. Physically separate from your laptop and/or smartphone if possible.
  3. Take some time to relax and reflect on the day, just with yourself.
  4. Take up a hobby or something that interests you outside of work.

A Threshold Of Success

Take a good look at your life, and the goals you have set, and find out that sweet spot, the threshold of success that you think is ‘enough’ for you to feel productive and successful.

Example: At Google, projects have multiple objectives but instead of an all-or-nothing situation, they have Objective and Key Results (OKRs) which let them set a success threshold (usually 60 to 70 per cent) so that they feel challenged and motivated and at the same time do not feel like a failure.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Spiral of Productivity Shame

Productivity shame is a feeling that you are not doing enough, whatever the number of hours you are working, or the number of tasks you are crossing off your to-do list. It also means you fe...

Causes of Productivity Shame
  • We link our products to our self-worth, thinking that we need to get more done, and our self-esteem depends upon it.
  • We set unrealistic goals, which can be discouraging for us if we keep on focusing on the end result.
  • We compare ourselves with others, who seemingly are doing better and are more productive.
Overcoming Productivity Shame

  • Disconnect your Self-worth from your achievements.
  • Set realistic, effective goals: The three elements of goal-setting are knowing what you want to achieve, how you're going to get there, and why you want to achieve something. If you have a compelling reason and motivation, go for it.
  • Appreciate progress: Consistent progress aids productivity better than the achieving of goals. 

Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we pl...

Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting the alarm for your daily planning session at the same time every day. Tack your new daily planning session onto an existing habit like drinking your morning coffee.

Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.

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The weekly review

It’s dedicated time to think about the past week, reflect on what went well and what didn’t, and plan for the week ahead. 

It’s a chance to get aligned with your goals and ensure ...

The 3 parts of a weekly review
  • Get Clear: process all your loose-ends.
  • Get Current: make sure all your items are up to date.
  • Get Creative: come up with new ideas to improve how you live and work.
Benefits of weekly reviews
  • You gain an objective view of the week: a weekly review forces you to practice intention by taking time to pause and reflect as you consider what you did versus what you planned to do.
  • You become proactive in planning: a weekly review isn’t only a retrospective, but a prospective too. It lets you run through the upcoming Monday to Friday proactively.

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Measuring Employee Productivity
Measuring Employee Productivity

Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mi...

The Old Productivity Formula

The basic productivity formula(productivity= output divided by input) worked well in the industrial age as the output and input were clearly defined and measurable.

Today’s leaders need innovative solutions to measure and improve productivity in a knowledge-based workplace, as the measurement of output and input is not what it was.

Quality And Quantity

While assigning value to the output of knowledge workers, we cannot simply measure the output like before.

Coders and doctors cannot be measured by the hour, as their output is not uniform or consistent every hour.

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Time Debt
Time Debt

The choices we make to ‘borrow’ our personal time to get work done works against us in the long run, just like the money borrowed from a credit card has to be paid back with interest in the future....

Track Your Time

You need to find out just where your time is going currently. You can use a pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or an app to visualize where you spend most of the hours in your day.

Create A Time-Blocking Template
  • Block your time for specific types of work, not individual tasks.
  • Block your time for core work like coding, designing or writing, for shallow work like daily tasks and maintenance, for meetings and emails, and fill it with frequent breaks to replenish yourself.
  • Give yourself space between blocks so that you can decompress and keep your energy levels high.

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