Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Productivity is the name of the game these days. As it becomes the norm to work from home, many of us are experiencing more pressure than ever to prove that we are being productive. The problem is, being more productive is not motivating, it’s simply a means to an end.
We approach productivity with an old-school efficiency-centric mentality: we think of it in terms of how many things we can get done in x amount of time. We tackle our day like a champ doing all the things, and at 5 o’clock we look at what’s crossed off our to do list. We feel accomplished because of how productive we believe we were. We’ve achieved something, we can clearly see it, and we get that dopamine hit (look at all those crossed off items!).
That’s why writing down our goals, our visions, and our daily to-do lists can be so effective: as we tick off each task our system receives a visual message to release dopamine.
No visual cue, no dopamine. And while there is potential to ride that wave and stay motivated, it’s easy to fall off course. That’s because dopamine is highly addictive; this hormone is released when we’re productive and achieving our goals, as well as when we consume alcohol, engage in gambling, or check out how many likes we’ve scored on our social media post. So even if we had an uber-productive day today, like any addict chasing the next high, tomorrow we may find ourselves spending our afternoon sipping a glass of wine while Instagram-scrolling because it’s significantly easier to befriend dopamine this way than efforting through a to-do list. And we all know how much our brain loves shortcuts!
So how do we avoid this very human pattern?
How do we achieve productivity on a consistent basis if being more productive is not motivating?
We know that taking action, showing up, and getting the work done is important, yet when we aren’t as productive as we would like to be, we tend to get down on ourselves. How exactly do we stop feeling guilty about our less than ideal productivity levels? What is the best way to be productive?
We recognize that Productivity is not our goal. Alignment is.
If we feel guilty about our lack of productivity, we’re likely not focusing on the right projects.
So what are the “right” projects?
They are the things that are aligned with our value system. If we aren’t doing the things that make us feel good: the things that sing jubilantly to our core desires and purpose, then it won’t be long before we become victim to the social media vortex of laziness, cheating the dopamine system yet again. On the other hand, we will always be more productive when focusing on something we truly care about, therefore it’s joy and inspiration that we need to aim for.
So, the next time you feel like you’re running around in circles accomplishing nothing, try taking a moment to ask yourself: What is the ‘Why’ behind the ‘What’? and, Why am I doing this?
Dig deep, because in all likelihood your first answer won’t be the core of it. Keep asking yourself ‘Why?’ until you reach the truth of your motivation. You’ll know when you’re there because you’ll vibrate with inspiration and taste joy on your lips. Once you can genuinely connect the dots between the ‘What’ and your ‘Why’, you’ll find that you’ll be more productive, achieving flow state on a more regular basis. It’s so much easier to get in the zone and produce high caliber results in less time when your actions are backed by your values and beliefs.
Sustained productivity is a result of the conscious connection between the task and our core desires, values, and purpose. Productivity is a byproduct of alignment.