4.13.2021

Meeting Productivity with Progress

Whether or not this blog post was something just to cross off my to-do list or not, I think it's valid to say that talking about productivity versus progress is definitely a start. Now that I've come to establish some sort of routine that "works" for me at home, the lines are blurred between what work is actually productive and what tasks are actually making progress for myself and my goals. Here's the quick distinction between the two:
"Productivity is merely the ability to create or generate goods or services. Progress is the more important activity of moving toward a goal."

And you may be thinking, Natalie, isn't being productive also making progress? Well, in some ways yes. But let's just say, for example, you've added all of these things to your to-do list (vacuum, take out the garbage, dust, answer emails, submit final draft etc.), are you actually paying attention to what really needs to get done (i.e. that final draft)? It all depends on how you approach the things you want to achieve. Nowadays, we're all looking for new ways to boost our productivity, but it shouldn't mean overloading our plate and mis-managing our time just to do it all. 


We can make as many long to-do lists as we want, and manage our time as efficiently as we can, but it shouldn't be the only meter for success we use to determine whether or not we've done enough or the most we could that day. I fall into the trap of making myself busy, but blindsided by tasks that could lead to progressive next steps to achieving my goals. Sometimes, this means reframing your priorities or focusing on what's truly important long term. And that goes with being present in your given task and acknowledging how it's going to effect your progress. 

How can we make progress? 
When you've come at a stand still with the work you're doing, ask yourself:
  1. What am I really chasing after? 
  2. How am I constantly measuring my progress? 
  3. How is the current work I'm doing fulfilling what I set out to achieve? 

These are just some broader questions that you can ask yourself when you are finding that your busy work is fading away the long term goal you set out to achieve. Whether you're trying to answer every single email, apply for a job, or tweak every single detail in a project. I do this a lot. I'm the type of person who likes to get every tedious task out of the way before tackling a bigger one. Usually, it just fuels the procrastination even more and my motivation is depleted by the time I set out to start it. 

I find that when I feel like these tasks are taking out the time I need to reach my goals, especially if it isn't immediate or time sensitive, I'll feel way better later knowing that I was able to directly focus on things that needed the most time and energy. This doesn't necessarily apply to every single time you're working, but I would definitely re-visit these questions when you feel a sense of overwhelm or like you're just ticking stuff off your list at an abnormal speed. 
Working faster or harder doesn't always mean efficient...or progressive for that matter. Rather than setting a stop watch every day for yourself, try to take a step back and pause. Re-evaluate what needs the most attention. I think being at home and having much more time to do more things on our computers diminishes the pause we allow ourselves to breathe. In fact, I listen to less music now because I'm not commuting into the city. So, whatever you need to do: scratch off some items, take a dance break, get some fresh air, do it so that whatever you set out to achieve is the next step to making more progress. 

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