How to (not) be productive

February 08, 2019


Nowadays productivity is a recurring topic: "7 things you should do to be more productive", "How to stop procrastinating", etc etc. And here we are talking about it once again, but I will use a different approach. Giving a more personal view on this topic and tell you what are the steps that I unconsciously make that dives me into an unproductive state. Hopefully this will help you (and me) to notice and avoid these steps.

But if you are trying to be more productive by reading this article on your work time I will give you a quick hint on increasing your productivity. Mark this page for reading later, be patient and go back to work even if it is sucking your life away. For the day it will boost your work output, but for the long run come back and read the rest ( you will dry out if you let your entire life be sucked ).


I assume you are at home back from work now. So, Let's continue...

First and foremost a disclaimer: I don't believe in silver bullets. Nothing that anyone can tell you will make you crazily motivated, working 753 hours a day, replying thousands of emails, reading 22838 books every week, having time and energy to socialize with family and friends AND OF COURSE taking care of your body and health.

I really got tired and overwhelmed just by thinking about it.



Definition of Overwhelm:

To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.

This feeling of submersion under hundreds of things to do is my main productivity killer. Let me explain it further.

The only way to do the same job over and over again is to be motivated by it, to love it, to give your best and rejoice over the fruits you harvest.

In my case I love what I do, I love to create things and cultivate it. Be it an app, an article, a game or a company. This exact love drives me out of bed into a computer every day and without knowing I start to pick some stones to carry: a task I have to do, a message to answer on Facebook, a call to make on Skype, a code to deliver, should I do this or that?, etc etc. All in name of my creations!!! * mad laugh *

These little thoughts and tasks start to build up, and rock by rock I create on my head and shoulders a huge mountain. I don't usually see my knees shaking over the weight. I am just a little tired, I think, some rest over the night will do the job. The next day I keep picking my rocks, and on the next day, and the next, the next... Until one day when walking a very short step I crumble on the ground without the strength to carry on this mountain.

What do you expect that a reasonable person would do? Leave the mountain and start moving just some small rocks again... DUH!

But that is not what people usually do. We start to avoid the mountain failing to see what it really is... just a pile of rocks!


Doing what you should not be doing

Here is the funny part, in order to cope with that huge weight waiting for you to be carried and resolved you bring a good old friend: PROCRASTINATION.

I am not saying that everyone that is procrastinating does it because is feeling overwhelmed, but in my personal case in almost 100% of the times that is the reason. Or at least the main one.

So... here is this huge pile of rocks. What do I do? Watch an episode of an anime, only one will give me the energy to work again. Hours binge watching later and not a single rock has moved.

What a crazy thing hum! All these hours to "restore" your energy and instead of shrinking the mountain it seems to grow larger with guilty and the "wasted time". It almost seems like doing nothing results in no thing.

Time does not have mercy for no one.

Suddenly, the pressure of life makes you AMAZINGLY productive. You start to carry huge chunks of the mountain, letting things fall all over the place, but well at least you are doing something, right? Wrong. This is exactly the time when you will produce your WORST. Don't let this happen.

So how to keep you out of this trap? It is simple... Don't put too much pressure on yourself.

But I have fallen, help!

How I escape this cycle


I organize myself by making an inventory of all the rocks on the mountain, putting each rock side by side. A list with all tasks, thoughts, worries that are on my mind and scattered around. Just by doing that the mountain shrinks, you remove the fog of the unknown around what the mountain contains and you see it as it truly is. Just some rocks!

Now just get your work tools and get to work. Rock by rock. Issue by issue. Bug by bug.

Do you also do something like this? Let me know in the comments!