What Being Productive Taught Me

We’re all told to make the most out of our time.

After all, most people who are successful are productive.

You have 24 hours in a day — giving you have about 16 hours to be productive. Assuming you have a full-time job, you only have about 2–6 hours to get a lot of shit done.

But is there such a thing as being too productive?

Productivity is great, but it comes at a cost. I experienced this cost and want to share my experience to help you avoid the same fate.

My journey to productivity

About a year ago I started focusing on improving my time management.

So, I did what anyone would do who wants to be productive — I downloaded dozens of productivity apps and read dozens of articles. I committed to growing my blog with any free time I had. This resulted in me waking up at 5 am and writing down all my goals the night before.

During the first few months, this was exciting. I was more organized, worked in sprints, and began using my calendar. The problem was that I began to feel drained. People would see me and ask if I was well since I had bags in my eyes — I was a mess. And, although I was being productive I rarely took time to plan.

This resulted in completing many “important” tasks but not knowing where I was heading. For example, I’d spend most of the time searching for ways to increase my website traffic — and not producing enough content. I had tunnel vision — and was heading down the wrong path.

Everything has a cost

The problem was that I didn’t realize my cost until several months had passed. I was tracking my time using a tool called ATracker. If you’re not familiar with this tool, you can use it to track your time in separate categories. For example, you can record how much time you spend reading, eating — even how long your breaks are.

It felt good to review my progress each night. On most days I’d spend 2 hours reading, 3 hours working on blog related tasks — it felt damn good. But, with this type of productivity, I was paying a price.

I’d spend little time with friends, family — that’s because I viewed socializing as being unproductive. This led to fewer invitations to go out and talking to myself for most of the days. I felt like a robot programmed to only complete tasks — I was miserable.

I missed important dates and lost important relationships because of my productivity. I became obsessed with building a successful blog that I lost sight of my priorities. The sad part is I’m no longer working on this blog.

Although most of the hard work I’d invested in my previous blog was a great learning experience — I doubt it was worth the friendships I’ve lost.

Discovering what productivity means

Today, productivity has a different meaning.

It means completing my most important tasks while not sacrificing important life events.

This means saying yes more often to invites from friends and family. It means having one full day of rest during the week. It means listening to my brain when it’s tired of working and take a break. It means taking a “chill-pill” when I don’t complete all my tasks some days.

I’ve found that working 3 hours daily is my sweet spot. These 3 hours are extra to the 8 that I’d spend in my full-time job. If I ever go over my limit it’s because I’ve finished other tasks sooner than expected.

I admire entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk who can work 10+ hours daily and feel happy. It’s easy to feel bad when you’re not working as much as this man is. But, everyone is different — everyone has their sweet spot.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

I’m a firm believer that everything in life has a cost. Spend too much time on your business and you’ll spend less time with your family. Spend too much time with your family and your business may never grow to the level you’d like.

I sometimes question if giving up most of my 20s is worth building a successful business. After all, there’s no guarantee that I’ll succeed — yet I know that spending too much time socializing will make me feel unhappy.

That’s why I’m writing this article at 8 pm on a Monday — and I’m not feeling sorry for myself. Maybe you’re a writer at Medium and can relate.

The question is, what does being productivity mean to you?

Does it mean getting more business-related tasks done? Maybe it means traveling more? You don’t need to be more productive you need to be more intentional.

Whatever productivity means for you, make sure it’s making you happy. Structure your schedule to complete only the most important things — the things that make you come alive.

Imagine completing all your important tasks and not feeling like shit.

You’ve built a thriving business, made time for your loved ones, and carved out time for yourself.

Doesn’t this sound amazing?

If it does then make time for it, and if it doesn’t then take time to define what productivity will mean for you.

Don’t count the days. Make the days count — Muhammad Ali

By:Chris Alarcon