Be more productive by . . . being less productive

Kara Loewentheil has a cool take on productivity and some root causes of low productivity. She explores the vicious cycle of anxiety and shame and the effect on our productivity.

Kara looks at why we get anxious:

When you think “I don’t know how to do this” or “I’m going to screw this up,” you are summoning up an imaginary mental danger.

But your brain thinks you’re recognizing a real physical danger, and the response is to produce stress and anxiety. It’s supposed to help you run faster and fight harder if necessary, but since your work assignment isn’t a bear, it’s not super helpful in modern life.

And, as Kara says, it’s human nature to avoid things we’re anxious about – which means we won’t start that project just yet or we cruise social media or watch just one more episode of GOT. And our productivity plummets . . . which brings us to Kara’s 2nd point: we feel shame when we’re not productive. I like how Kara puts it:

Many of us have this inchoate belief that productivity is a moral issue—being productive is good, not being productive is bad, and if we aren’t being “productive,” we should feel ashamed of ourselves.

That’s me and I blame my WASP upbringing. Read the article for some tips on breaking the cycle:

  • Learn how to be more productive – by learning how to reduce anxiety
  • Learn how to be less productive – by learning to accept periods of non-productivity as a part of a balanced life.

Check out the article – it’s a good short read.