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Is chasing productivity really unproductive?


Productivity is important because it is an indicator of progress. The more productive you are the more you can do with less time, and when you checked out all your tasks you have more time to do the things you enjoy. Most importantly a successful day gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

However, there’s a lie about productivity, it states the more stuff you do in your allotted 24 hours, the more successful you become. Indeed, there is a big difference between a day that seems productive and a day that seems so so. The difference is not in the number of tasks we get done — it’s the feeling about the things we accomplished.

The problem with chasing the feeling of productivity is that it’s deceitful. It makes you feel that as long as you tick most of your boxes you have succeeded. This feeling of success makes you unconsciously set more goals, leaving you spreading yourself too thin, and in the end, realizing you accomplished nothing.

Working for the purpose of simply being productive means you are sacrificing anything worth being productive for. Nowadays, people prefer instant gratification, the get-rich-quick schemes, and time-saving shortcuts- some work, some help but some are just a waste of time.

Somehow we forget that our end goal should contribute to our personal and professional accomplishments these tasks are usually challenging and at times frustrating but nothing of real importance can be fully accomplished in just a few minutes and without a struggle. 

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Chasing Productivity

The problem with starting your days going after your to-do lists, ticking as many boxes- can result in:

  1. Poor output or quality of work
  2. Disapointment if a task takes too much time that you can’t do other things
  3. Burn out as a result of doing too much
  4. Delaying more important tasks

This too has been my formula for a while but I later realized that accomplishing the insignificant task daily while spreading my important life-changing tasks and projects throughout the week actually took away the momentum, the idea, the vision, and sometimes even pushed the project further beyond my timeline.

Being productive on the right goals is key to success, but it isn’t always easy. In fact, at times it can be extremely difficult to stay on task. There are many distractions that can keep people from staying productive. It can also be difficult to stay focused on something that is uninteresting or tedious.

In the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller. He writes, “It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”


“Busyness is not a means to accomplishment, but an obstacle to it,” writes Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a Stanford scholar and author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.” In his book, he argues that when we define ourselves by our “work, dedication, effectiveness and willingness to go the extra mile,” it’s easy to think that doing less and creating more peace in our minds are barriers to success.

There are a handful of ways you can get more done by doing less, but it starts with where you decide to focus your mental energy. More than working hard it is much more important to work smart. The goal is to stay present and detach yourself from the insignificant tasks and issues at hand.


  • MENTAL HEALTH Plays a huge role in how well you feel on a day-to-day basis, and that includes how you feel at work. Even mild anxiety or depression can affect your productivity, according to Ashley McGirt, a licensed mental health therapist. 
  • TECHNOLOGY DISTRACTIONS People are easily distracted and consumed with things like social media, responding to texts, constant notification alerts etc.
  • LACK OF DIRECTION For some people, productivity stalls because of a lack of direction. A person may know what their end goal is but they have no idea how to get there.
  • BOREDOM WITH TASKS Sometimes people struggle to stay productive simply because they’re bored with the work. They may find it uninteresting or tedious which makes it harder to finish.
  • STARTING TOO LATE IN THE DAY Have you ever heard or said the expression ‘there’s just not enough time’?


Small adjustments can lead to more lasting changes, but it may take time and discipline

  • LIMIT DISTRACTIONS Distractions are everywhere
  • KNOW YOUR TIME Be aware of where and what you spend your time on
  • FIGURE OUT YOUR PEAK HOURS Some of us are morning people, some of us are night owls. Find out what works for you
  • REDUCE YOUR MENTAL LOAD Your goal should be to focus on the harder or more important tasks first
  • BRAIN DUMP Write down all your planned goals and ideas and narrow down on the important tasks
  • TIMELINE Deadlines are really important
  • BECOME AN EARLY RISER This is your ME time to do your self-love and self-care. Take a moment to rewire, refresh and prepare for the day ahead
  • CREATE A SYSTEM Cut your to-do list in half and give more time to things that matter the most- everything else should fall under schedule
  • STOP CONFUSING PRODUCTIVITY WITH LAZINESS When you Do more, you can Be more, and you will Live more

Here’s an interesting read: HOW TO STAY AHEAD OF YOUR QUITTING MIND



  • Reply Samantha December 9, 2021 at 7:46 am

    These are a lot of great reminders, some you don’t think of being unproductive but they really are.

    • Reply Lani December 10, 2021 at 12:06 am

      Hi Samantha,

      Thanks for your comment and yes I agree with you.

  • Reply Desiree December 9, 2021 at 9:05 am

    Yeah I am definitely a list ticker and I learned that not accomplishing everything I wanted to do for the day doesn’t mean I didn’t have a successful day. Some days, just getting up in the morning is the most I can do and I stopped beating myself up about not completing the tasks I set out for the day. Great read.

    • Reply Lani December 10, 2021 at 12:03 am

      Hi Glocoa,

      The most important thing is that we are kind to ourselves and create a system that works for us.

  • Reply Alison December 9, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Wow- this is a powerful reminder & great article!

    • Reply Lani December 10, 2021 at 12:01 am

      Hi Alison,

      Thanks for your comment, hope it helps.

  • Reply Ali December 9, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I love your take on this. It is so true! It can feel good to check things off and get things done – but it’s definitely more important to do things effectively than just doing A LOT!

    • Reply Lani December 10, 2021 at 12:00 am

      Hi Ali,

      Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you! Being effective is much more important than just ticking all your unnecessary to-do lists.

  • Reply Sienna December 9, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Love your tips for small adjustments to be more productive rather than just busy. Too many people relish in being busy. I had a job once on location and they worked so so hard but what took them all day took me 2 hours. At night it was late and I was done so I decided to go to bed. I got basically yelled at for not staying up working. It didn’t matter that the job was done all they could see is they were up late and I was going to bed. So much value in being really productive rather than looking productive!

    • Reply Lani December 9, 2021 at 11:56 pm

      Hi Sienna,

      This is a great story- I loved what you said about actually “being productive vs. looking productive”.

  • Reply Jimmy Clare December 9, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    I have a to-do list on all of my devices and its helps me

    • Reply Lani December 9, 2021 at 11:54 pm

      Hi Jimmy,

      Me too. Check out my posts on best lifestyle apps maybe some of your apps are there and you can learn of other great apps too.

  • Reply Headphonesthoughts December 9, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    limiting distractions is important. I remember when I was in college I used to try to keep my phone away from me so that I could study for an example.

    • Reply Lani December 9, 2021 at 11:52 pm

      Hi Deborah,

      I totally agree with you. Sometimes it’s just challenging though.

  • Reply Christina December 10, 2021 at 2:08 am

    I like to use a priority list for work. It helps me to identify projects that fit into my timeframe or even find some “low hanging fruit” to mark off my “list.” I think of my lists more of weekly goals. I do change adjust them as needed. It works for me, but I also both get overly caught up in the need to mark things as done.

    • Reply Lani December 12, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Hi Christina,

      I’m doing the same, it also works for me- but yeah sometimes I really do enjoy ticking as many boxes as I can.

  • Reply Trina Foreman December 10, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Great article. I read an inspiring book about making the smallest change each day rather than trying to do something profound. The small changes over time add up quick!

    • Reply Lani December 12, 2021 at 7:55 am

      Hi Trina,

      I’m doing the same, it’s just so easy to convince ourselves to make and do small changes consistently, this practice easily builds a habit than doing one big thing one time.

  • Reply Jeanine December 10, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    This is a great article & a timely wake up call, to cut my to-do list & do a brain dump it gets me in trouble all the time too many things on that list for the day.

    • Reply Lani December 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Hi Jeanine,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, indeed we all need to narrow down our to-do list.

  • Reply Krysten Quiles December 10, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    I think there is a fine line between being productive and being over-productive. Great read!

    • Reply Lani December 12, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Hi Krysten,

      Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you.

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