What does it mean to be productive? A typical definition might be something like, “Getting the most done in the least possible time.”
Here’s a different take on what productivity is: You’re being productive when your work is entirely satisfying and fulfilling.
- You grow as a person.
- You enjoy the company of others.
- You are proud of what you’ve completed.
- You feel confident about your abilities.
- You look forward to undertaking the same or similar projects in the future.
- You help others.
- You receive the acclaim of your peers.
Notice, the qualities that make work satisfying are all about you, not about the work.
There are, of course, lots of tasks that are neither satisfying nor fulfilling that have to get done nevertheless.
At it’s best, time management offers a set of strategies for maintaining balance between “work” and “life”. I’ve put those terms in quotes because a) our work is, of course, not a thing separate from life, and b) by “work” I don’t mean our job but all the least satisfying and least fulfilling tasks that we need to take care of in order to live.
Looked at this way, the hoary phrase “work-life balance” that so many employers are paying lip service to these days takes on a new meaning (and one most employers don’t have even remotely in mind): to balance our lives more in favor of tasks that are satisfying and fulfilling.
Often that means giving employees room to do things that challenge and stimulate them, and minimizing or automating the things that don’t.
When you have the “work” under control, you can afford to give time to the projects that turn you on. In fact, you can afford to take pleasure not in getting things done but in doing them. While a completed task or project can give you a great deal of satisfaction, the act of doing should also be fulfilling.
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