Why Productivity Isn’t Always The Key To Better Work (And What Is)

Lately I’ve been experiencing a push to gain more discipline and to get more work done and a pull to take a break, rest, refuel and give myself some grace.

My guess is my life will always resemble this push-pull cycle in some manner.

But I’m starting to listen to the side that is actually a struggle for me. Because the truth is, I allow the push to have more influence in my life than I need it to.

I do a pretty good job of showing up, getting the work done and being disciplined.

What I struggle with is allowing more influence from the pull. During times of rest is when I come up with many of my best ideas. This is when my brain is relaxed enough to generate new ideas.

This is what I love about this time. And I also feel most like myself during this time. I feel at peace. I feel present in the moment. I feel happy with who I am and how far I’ve come in life as a person.

But then I get that urge to produce, to achieve, to do more, more, more again. And some of it is an internal pressure, but a lot of it comes from external sources reminding me of the importance of discipline and time management.

110519-N-VA590-379 Photo by Official U.S. Navy Page, Creative Commons

But when I give in to these pressures, I burn out. I produce a lot of content, but I don’t feel changed by it. I’m happy with what I did, but not who I am in those moments.

I thrive off of discipline, schedules, plans. Or at least I feel like I do until I realize this is not who I want to be and I can’t keep doing this forever.

So lately, I feel I spend about a week in the push and then a week in the pull back.

And it’s working for me in a way. It’s keeping me balanced between getting stuff done and getting rejuvenated to get more stuff done. And yet the quality of the stuff I get done doesn’t really improve.

I have to admit to myself I already excel at the push. I don’t need to spend a lot more time and energy on disciplining myself into writing more or managing my time better. That’s not my hang up.

My hang up is what I’m writing about and more specifically whether or not my writing is coming from the push of my head or the pull of my heart.

I’d like the pull to show up in my writing more often.

And when it does, it doesn’t just count for words I put on a page. It changes me too.

And that’s the kind of writing I want to produce.

I don’t just want to show up to do the work. As Brene Brown puts it, I want to show up and dare greatly.

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