I would consider myself to be a productive person. Whether it’s a hobby, work or studies, I will want to do it all to the best of my ability. Being productive can be seen as a positive trait but wanting to be too productive can also have it’s challenges.
Worrying about your level of productivity can sometimes result in you taking on too much, and taking on more than you can handle can quickly lead to burnout. Which is something we all want to avoid.
But, how do we avoid something that is often celebrated? In a society where the pressure to be productive can be overbearing there are a few things we can do to overcome it.
Here are 4 tips that have helped me deal with the pressure to be constantly productive.
Knowing your limits
We each have our own limits in life, and because they are different for everyone, only you can know what those limits are. For me, this has taken a while to learn and I do think the pressure of being productive played a role. Whether it is down to work or social life, overexerting yourself can cause serious fatigue, so you have to ask yourself what is more important? Staying productive just for the sake of it, or actually putting the time into the things you are happy to do.
Realising it’s okay to say no
In the past, I have been the kind of person to say yes to everything because I thought it was important to be involved in as much as possible. I was afraid if I said no to things that I would be missing out on an opportunity or disappointing people but that is rarely the case. Just this week, I had to make a decision on pulling out of a Zoom meeting I would have liked to attend but it wasn’t possible for me with my current work and study schedule, so I sent the email with my apologies and the reply that followed was in fact, very pleasant. It certainly wasn’t the big deal my mind had told me it might have been and this is often the reality.
It takes practice, but learning to say no and being okay with that, is key for your own wellbeing and minimising added pressure.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Sometimes the pressure to be productive can come from those around us, and it may not exactly be what they are saying, but rather what they are doing. It is very easy to look at your friends, colleagues or even social media influences that could be similar in age to you and worry that you are not doing enough. Perhaps they are successful in their career, studies or relationships, you may wonder why you are not at that stage, but guess what? We all progress at our own pace so comparing yourself to others isn’t making you more productive, it’s only making you reach for unrealistic expectations.
Enjoy your downtime
You may think this sounds easy but when was the last time you truly enjoyed your free time? On a day off, were you ever tempted to at least look at your emails?
While putting your absolute best into whatever you do is great, enjoying some downtime is just as important. We need days of rest and time of leisure to refuel our bodies, because without it, both our physical and mental health will take a hit and inevitably lead to burnout. Work and/or study will still be there when you come back to it, except this time you will be rested and ready for anything. So, maybe put your phone on airplane mode for a while and pick up a book or meet a friend for coffee. Whatever it is you need to do, to unwind for a few hours.