Reframing what it means to be productive

Do more. Work harder. Hustle.

This is the motto we are used to hearing in the modern age, especially in the workforce. Hard work is celebrated and anything less is perceived as weak. Clocking long hours, sacrificing sleep, forgoing leisure time, neglecting nutrition, and living to work have become badges of honour, signifying dedication and a ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality. 

Productivity is often associated with how much you tick off your to-do list and the more work you can do, the better. 

But if you keep going like this, symptoms of burnout are bound to creep up on you – no matter how strong your stamina and work ethic is. You may feel irritable, exhausted, unable to focus, lack motivation, and have an overall negative outlook on life.

The good news is: a shift is occurring. Self-care and wellness are coming more and more into focus, climbing up our ladder of priorities. However, these two frames of mind seem to clash – so how, then, do we adjust our lifestyle and thinking to harness the positive aspects of both?

Navigating ‘Hustle Culture’ 

The ideology of ‘Hustle Culture’ has gained traction in the Western world, largely propelled by social media. This cultural movement glorifies a lifestyle where aspects of our lives that typically bring fulfilment – such as hobbies, passion projects, self-care, social and family interactions – take the backseat while our waking attention is diverted to our career. 

While these recent ideals glorify overworking as a point of pride, the collateral effects set the stage for an environment of fear, guilt and shame when you don’t commit yourself to the same ideals of endless work. 

These ideals are anything but sustainable. We encourage you to recognise when the toxic aspects of this culture are affecting your judgement of productivity. 

A refreshed perspective of productivity

Ticking off your tasks, taking steps towards your goals and feeling accomplished is an incredibly powerful, motivating and uplifting feeling. It helps you feel pride in yourself and helps boost your mental clarity. But this stops being the case when you cross the line and become imbalanced in your pursuit of achievements.

This is an easy fix! We just need to open our awareness and recognise our boundaries. Knowing when to draw back and focus on rest and recuperation is more beneficial to your productivity. 

Yes. Rest. Is. Productive.

Studies have shown that a balance between work and life commitments improves work performance, allowing people to stay focused and attentive.

So factor your work/life balance in! When organising your tasks for the day or the week, include time to recharge and how you will fill your cup with whatever brings you joy. 

Below are some tips on positive ways to enrich your much-needed downtime that will boost your performance when you are working or ticking off tasks on your to-do list.

Nourish your body 

By fuelling your body with nutritionally-dense foods and proper hydration, you can achieve a persistent state of wellness which is key to fortifying your productive energy. 

By giving your body all the nutrients it needs to thrive, you’ll experience greater mental clarity and improved mood, and be able to sustain focus for longer. To do this, set and persevere with balanced daily eating habits that consist mainly of nutrient-dense, wholesome foods, but allow the space for foods that serve the purpose of bringing enjoyment. 

Detach from your work state

An integral part of achieving effective rest during your resting moments is to stay completely detached from your ‘working state’. This means disconnecting from any stimulus that requires you to engage in that mode of being. This may include talking about work, doing work-related tasks on your device, and thinking about or organising future work tasks. 

Optimise your flow state

To fully embrace your rest and keep them uninterrupted, you’ll want to make the most of the time you are working. This isn’t about working for longer but maximising what you can do in the short time periods you set yourself. 

To do this, accessing your flow state is key, which also means minimising avenues for procrastination. To make the most productive use of your time every day, set your intention to find the routine that works best for you personally, and stick to it as much as possible. This may involve a morning commitment to self-care involving relaxation and exercise, followed by a period of deep work once your ‘cup’ is full. 

Then, when it’s time to get down to business, clarify the task that must be completed, set a timer for the period that you intend to spend working without a break (for example, 25 minutes), and enter an uninterrupted workflow for that period of time. Once the time has passed, take a short break to rest your body and mind. 

We’d encourage a period of stillness that’s free from engagement with devices, such as a few moments of meditation, enjoying a light snack, or having a quick stretch, before beginning your next period of uninterrupted work (if required). 

Say no

You’ve set aside some time to take a break from work or chores. This doesn’t mean time to pack out your schedule! Commit your intentions in advance and prioritise time to recharge. Whilst you may want to occupy this time by socialising, exercising and doing hobbies – which is of course, important for a healthy, happy and balanced lifestyle – don’t let this override your intention to simply press pause and unwind. Remember: this is productive too.

Shifting your perspective of what it means to be productive will not only help you achieve a greater sense of self-satisfaction but also cultivate a work-life balance that will leave you feeling happier, more content and fulfilled with life. For more guidance on how to optimise your productivity, click here.