Don’t Go Too Far Down the Productivity Rabbit Hole

This morning I rose early, far too early.

The clock said it was still sleepy-time, and I agreed. I was tired, utterly fatigued. Yet, I could not make myself return to the realm of sleep. So instead, I just lay there in my perfectly comfy bed, turning and tossing for what seemed like hours to an end.

And what caused this predicament?

Somewhere deep inside, I heard a voice: “Either you sleep NOW, or you get your ass out of bed and do something worthwhile.”

This inner voice allowed no middle ground. It was unthinkable for me to lay still, doing nothing. And because I felt a compulsion to sleep, I could not. So, alas, I lay there, doing nothing, the very thing I feared.

By striving to be productive, I actually became less productive. For if I had accepted that I may or may not sleep and that it’s fine to lay there doing nothing, then I would perhaps have been able to sleep.

So, that’s one aspect to take into consideration. It seems that striving to be productive (when taken to the extremes) can lead to less productivity.

But this is far from the most important reason you shouldn’t go too far down the productivity rabbit hole.

Because ask yourself the following question:

Why do you want to be productive, to begin with?

Naturally, you want to be productive towards something meaningful to you. And as for the process itself, it should be enjoyable, right?

Because what’s the point otherwise?

Does one enjoy life whilst running through it, constantly out of breath?

Is life about doing as many things as possible, or is it about enjoying our stay on this earth as much as possible?

Am I Saying That We Should Stop Trying To Be Productive?

In some cases, yes. Because too much focus on productivity becomes a state of busyness. And what does that mean?

Well, consider what it means to be productive.

You likely think of it as being efficient with your time. I agree.

However, there is also, as I see it, an aspect of productivity concerning meaningful action. Because one can certainly busy oneself with almost anything, but if it doesn’t get us any closer to what is meaningful to us, and if the process itself isn’t enjoyable, then what’s the point?

To be busy is like having a clock ticking in your head, feeling the need to keep track of time and not waste it.


We are wasting time by being busy. Things done in pursuit of having to do something are by nature meaningless; we do not enjoy what we feel that we have to do, and if we do not enjoy it, then are we not wasting time?

It’s like being trapped in an hourglass — sand slipping through the cracks of your fingers as you desperately try to hold onto it.

I certainly do not want that for myself.

Thus, It seems that one has to find a middle ground between being productive and being busy.

Because productivity is great, busyness is not.

On Reaching The Middle Ground

I can’t give any cookie-cutter answers here because it depends largely on where we are with our own journeys and circumstances.

But, here are a few things that are working for me:

  1. Cool your head. When I am feeling stressed out, I try to get into the habit of cleaning the muddiness from my brain. How? Usually, I go for a walk, but that’s not necessary. What’s important is realizing that you will get nothing worthwhile done in a state of extreme stress (you will be busy, not productive). Some people enjoy lying down listening to music, and others enjoy drawing or reading a good book. Do what works for you. The important thing is that it serves to cool your head and thus help you leave the state of being overwhelmed.
  2. Ask yourself: why am I doing this? This is a great practice for anchoring yourself to the purpose that underlies your actions. Because it is easy to lose oneself in work being done right now. And zooming out, looking at the larger picture, and reminding yourself why this action is being done, is a great way to connect with the purpose towards which you are striving to be productive (Better than coffee). However, you may also come up with an answer along the lines of “there really isn’t any worthwhile reason I am doing this” — in that casestop doing it and start doing things that matter.

I end this article by repeating the following words.

Does one enjoy life whilst running through it, constantly being out of breath? Is life about doing as many things as possible, or is it about enjoying our stay on this earth as much as possible?

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