I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I believe in productivity as much as the next person and I sleep better at night when I feel I’ve had a better than average day when it comes to getting things done.

But are we overdoing it? Is productivity the golden key to happiness or are we so busy that we aren’t even aware of what makes us happy anymore? Most of us seem to justify what we do with our time by labelling it productive and this includes our leisure time also. Achievement seems to be the goal, becoming better at what we do, doing those things faster than ever and especially better and faster than those around us, for achievement is a very competitive thing.

The problem arises when we feel that we have to justify everything we do by calling it productive. Efficient use of your time has its place; in your workplace or business, but outside of that, should we really be keeping tabs of each minute and how we spend it? While we all like to think we are getting somewhere through our efforts, either in business or a hobby or talent that consumes our time, is it necessary to always be producing or is this our manufactured way of making ourselves feel important?

Once you start to feel that you have to make the most out of every minute of your day is when leisure and relaxation go the way of the dinosaur and you are on a constant treadmill of keeping up with not only your idea but everyone else’s idea of what you should be doing and when you should be doing it. Losing control of your actions in the workplace is one thing but to never really be in charge of what you do in your private life is another.

Increased productivity rarely leads to feeling happy or a sense of satisfaction, as there will always be times when we feel we haven’t done enough, and should have done more. Managing our time in an efficient way can be great, especially when we get more done in less time by focusing on what we are doing. But if we are putting aside the things we really want to do, just to accomplish things we’ve been told we should want to accomplish, then we are being productive for the wrong reasons. A few examples of the right reasons would be: spending a few extra hours one week sewing costumes for our child’s school play; repainting a room a different color when the present color is one we absolutely despise and don’t feel comfortable with; growing a garden that we enjoy looking at and from which we can reap the benefit of fresh vegetables; spending extra hours going over a presentation for work so we thoroughly understand what we are talking about.

The feeling that we have to be productive is actually cutting into our real productivity, that balance between work, leisure, recreation and family that keeps us happy and fuels our energy so we can accomplish the most important things. Our fear of being left behind has led to a productivity crisis, one where everyone is busy doing but not really getting anything done that will have any major impact on their future, will not lead to a quality life and in the end will leave them frustrated and stressed.

Leaving time for “unproductivity” will allow you the chance to have real ideas, learn more about what you would really like to do that is enjoyable and maybe even get those real things done.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014

image courtesy of andertoons