Is Productivity the Key to Happiness?

productivity and happiness

Productivity is a good thing, right? That wonderful sense of accomplishment we get from getting more done in less time can be a genuine source of joy and satisfaction. I think most of us are on the lookout for ways to ramp up our productivity. At the same time, it’s easy to get so caught up in the push that we forget why we are striving to be more productive. Have you ever wondered…

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What’s really behind our drive for increased productivity?

Isn’t the real reason we want to accomplish more in less time because we have other things we want to do besides work? Aren’t we all trying to create more time for all those “other” enjoyable activities that we keep putting off? If you had the money and you had the time, what would you do? I’m guessing that listing everything that fits into that category would provide you with a good sized list, right? In fact, chances are just thinking about it brings a smile to your face.

The endless pursuit of happiness!

Anything we would attach to: “As soon as I have the time and the money I’m going to…” is something we really want to do. Consequently, there is a lot of good feelings linked to that list. But in reality isn’t it happiness postponed rather than realized? So what do we do? We convince ourselves that increased productivity will ultimately result in a happier life because it will allow us to do all those wonderful things on our list.

Is that the way it’s worked out for you?

Here’s the downside to that kind of logic. It is way too easy to lose track of the big picture and become obsessed with just being more and more efficient for the sake of productivity. Instead of spending the free time we have created with our families or friends, we use it to get more done. We get locked into the mindset of doing more for the sake of increased productivity. Why does that happen? Is it because we all want to work our lives away without taking time to stop and smell the roses? Probably not!

Making happiness conditional

The real problem is that somewhere along the way we managed to confuse accomplishment with happiness. Those happy feelings attached to our list can become so closely associated with being productive that we start to think they are the same. Happiness started as the inspiration for achievement, but somehow things got reversed. Happiness became conditional. When being happy gets anchored in achievement, we can easily fall into the trap of projecting that happiness into the future. We put conditions on when we will allow ourselves to be happy. I’ll take some time off just as soon as:

I pay off that last debt.
I solve this one problem.
I close this next deal.
I get a little more money saved.
I have a slowdown at work.

Being more productive is great. Getting more done in less time really is a good thing. But those are not legitimate reasons for missing out on happiness now.

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Happiness and productivity

There is no inherent conflict between being happy and being productive. Actually, the two go together very nicely. The only danger lies in getting out of balance and obsessing over productivity. So what is the take away here? Don’t lose your balance and allow the desire to accomplish more become an obsession. If this is what’s been happening in your life, take some time to think about your priorities.

Make sure that you maintain a healthy sense of equilibrium between living in the present and planning for the future. Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in compulsive accomplishment that you forget who and what are really important to you right NOW. Make sure to take some time to enjoy your life in the present instead of waiting for someday, because all too often, someday never comes.

Has productivity ever become an obsession for you?
How do you stay balanced and productive at the same time?
The lines are open!

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