Productivity’s dark side recently became a huge topic of discussion during the pandemic. While only exemplified in our time at home, the pressure to be constantly improving stems from a culture that reinforces an always working mentality. But using a productivity coping mechanism or two helps you improve your life and productivity while simultaneously eliminating the suffocating pressure.
The Catch In Comparison
This productivity coping mechanism shouldn’t fall on deaf ears for its cliche nature, but you have to stop comparing.
When wanting to step up your life, it’s natural to seek out advice, role models, and hacks for quick and easy fixes. But getting trapped in the pursuit of perfectionism and productivity tells us it can only be accomplished through never taking a break.
Soon you’re growing in productivity habits, but feel trapped in a rat race with no progress to show for your effort.
Next time you’re on social media, and you see an influencer or CEO living the seemingly perfect life, and #doingitall, remember one very important thing: you are seeing her highlight reel. What happens off the screen is the stumbles, the tears, and the exhaustion.
Take a moment to embody this productivity coping mechanism to slow down and consider what these individuals are giving up for their productivity. While you may feel out of control in the world, your personal life, and your productive life, you do have control over how much and what content you consume.
If you find yourself feeling guilty or as ‘lesser’ for not accomplishing the same routine as you social media inspiration, turn it off. Mute their feed for a little while, delete your apps, turn your phone all the way off. Removing the viral pressure to ‘be more’ can be the most powerful productivity coping mechanism.
Revamp Your Routine
Take a hard look at your routine. Highlight where you are making time to cut yourself some slack and just enjoy your life. If you don’t have anything to highlight, you’re in need of this productivity coping mechanism.
Anne Helen Peterson journalist and author of the forthcoming e-book “Can’t Even: How Millenials became the burnout generation” makes a point to say we are programmed to making even the smallest moments in our lives productive in some magnitude.
Taken the time to go for a walk without feeling the need to listen to an informative podcast or beat your weekly step challenge. A productivity coping mechanism, which takes the pressure on being productive 24/7, means building yourself a routine where you aren’t 100% productive all the time.
Lynn Bufka a clinical psychologist and senior director at the American Psychological Association said it’s important to find a coping mechanism that doesn’t leave you feeling drained all the time.
Even when you’re meeting all your productivity habits if you’re not feeling empowered, it’s time to find time in your routine to give yourself some power back.
Mike Vardy a productivity coach suggests time theming. This means you dedicate specific times, days, or hours to fun activities. Examples of this productivity coping mechanism include “friends Friday,” “lay back lunch,” “read away Sunday,” etc.
Block out time in your life where your sole focus isn’t winning at life but actually enjoying it.
Purpose Of Your Productivity
You truly need to consider the purpose of your productivity; don’t just follow a map laid out on the internet, on Pinterest, or Forbes, without considering the impact and purpose on your life and journey.
This productivity coping mechanism may seem counterintuitive. But back off your productivity regime to become more productive. Lower the pressure to achieve higher.
Laura Stack a productivity expert says constantly being productive leads to more stress than feelings of relief. It’s important to reevaluate your productivity habits and on each one ask yourself how is this helping me reach my goal — whatever that may be.
Sabine Sonnentag, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, said, “gaining some emotional distance from highly demanding work tends to help people recover from stress faster and leads to increased productivity.”
Acknowledging that overdrive in the productivity department is counterproductive to your purpose allows you to let go of the things no longer serving you.
Consider Your Values
Productivity shouldn’t detract from you being present in your life. A productivity coping mechanism comes from reminding yourself of what you want out of life. Remember what you would be giving up when implementing these productivity practices.
Hobbies that bring you joy don’t need to be monetized. The biggest productivity coping mechanism comes from allowing yourself to let go of productivity habits and not feel guilty in order to improve your quality of life. A Washington Post article on productivity coping mechanisms suggested trying something new without the pressure to be perfect or the expectation to be an expert. Allow yourself to relax into this new hobby without the pressure to post, brag, or perfect the skill. Use it as your off time when you let your mind relax.
Kiran Misra, a freelance journalist for the Guardian, wrote, “The emotional impact is profound. We live in a political and social climate where our sense of self-worth is often reduced to our productivity.” That quote hits close to home for someone feeling the non-relenting pressure to be productive.
A productivity coping mechanism reminds you to find your values, if that means taking a mid-day nap, do it. If you value a home-cooked meal with your family and that means turning off work by 5pm sharp, do it. Soon enough productivity won’t feel like a chore because of a well-rested mind and body will work in tandem towards bigger goals.
Productivity Vs. “Being Busy”
Honestly, this might be one of those productivity coping mechanisms that make you angry. Because it forces you to look at your long productive to-do list and ask what’s really helping you achieve your goal.
Is it even realistic? Just because you got 30 things done today, it doesn’t mean you were productive. That’s a harsh realization many go-getters have a hard time acknowledging. Productivity means being effective with your time not overloading your schedule.
Make your time work for you. John Rampton entrepreneur leadership network and author of “7 Ways You Can Escape the Productivity Trap and Avoid Burnout” suggests, “Productive people line up quality habits and work on those. You can’t do all things at once, but pick a couple of these value-productivity-hacks and make them your own.”
Redefine what productivity means to you as a productivity coping mechanism
That’s not a bad thing. Rampton has suggestions on how to avoid productivity pitfalls through:
- Value quality over quantity.
- Choose activities and projects wisely to ensure it’s working toward meaningful goals and aligned with the bigger picture.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Identify distractions and find ways to avoid them.
- Set a schedule that’s built around when you’re the most productive.
You shouldn’t feel exhausted in order to feel productive.
Modify Your Mindset
Productivity can be a coping mechanism for other events going on in your life. Become self-aware and address those issues.
A productivity coping mechanism comes from understanding your need to be productive.
When you can eliminate the stress and pressure you’ve put on yourself to be productive, and address the underlying issue, you’ll be able to maximize your productivity and lower your stress level.
Modifying your mindset can come from altering the thoughts that constantly stream through your mind.
Lucy Jo Palladino a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and author of “Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload,” calls these counter-thoughts. Here examples include:
- I am a human being, not a human doing
- The yin & yang of life is being & doing
- I am a miracle of nature exactly the way I am
- I am worthy
- When I sleep, sit still, or daydream, I’m still a precious mystery of life
The next time you find your internal thoughts berating for not constantly being productive, go through these mantras or your own variation of them.
This productivity coping mechanism is a tool you can carry with you no matter where you are.
Forced Productivity Exhausts Creativity
There’s plenty of research confirming the brain works on problems while we aren’t actively focused on them. Sitting down and demanding brilliant creative ideas to flow from you in the midst of a productivity packed day is essentially the same as asking a volcano to erupt snow.
It’s not going to happen.
A productivity coping mechanism means you need to give yourself space to just be. Not be a productivity machine. But be a human being.
Bruce Daisley, the author of “Don’t Let Your Obsession with Productivity Kill Your Creativity,” on the Harvard Business Review said, “But our relentless pursuit of efficiency has become an over-correction — if we do truly value the originality of creative thought, then it’s time to recognize that productivity and creativity often exist in opposition to one another. Productivity is focus, creativity is “unfocus.”
It’s hard to find a moment of peace and rest in a society that constantly demands attention and stimulates your environment, but it’s one of the most important productivity coping mechanisms. Creativity in any regard, not just the traditional sense, will help you grow productively without the same pressure and effort.
Daisley also comments, “this phenomenon of executives observing their best aha moments while on their downtime is further evidence that creative cognition isn’t triggered by deep, productive focus, but by something rather more diffuse.”
It’s counterintuitive to take a break from productivity to further productivity, but it’s the most effective method and one that releases you from the pressure to fill every second of every day.
The demand for constant productivity in our culture leads to feeling overwhelmed or inadequate. We hope this article helped give you ideas on how to cope and informed you of the downfall of constant productivity. Share with your friends and family who need this message.
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Source 1: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/350538
Source 2: https://hbr.org/2020/03/dont-let-your-obsession-with-productivity-kill-your-creativity
Source 3: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/24/productivity-in-coronavirus-lockdown
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