Productivity Redefined

‘My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, “Oh God, I’ve got to do this today”‘ –Richard Branson

As time goes on—and on! for our “shelter at home” requirement, how are you doing?

Have you become acclimated to this new way of life, and/or are you losing patience with your limitations?

It’s a good time to take stock, think about and evaluate how well things are going and what you might be able to do to improve your quality of life while maintaining safety for yourself and your loved ones.

I’ve been hearing mainly two types of comments:

1. “I’m just overwhelmed with trying to get my work/classes done and taking care of my kids’ school work, finding ways to keep them entertained, on top of trying to keep the house clean and meals prepared. My productivity has gone way down, with so much to do.”

2. “I’m feeling so unproductive—not working, not enough to do that holds my interest and gives me satisfaction.”

What were you doing pre-pandemic that you would describe as productive. Make a list.

How do you know when you are being “productive?” It depends on how you define it and how you are feeling, as well as where you’ve learned what productivity means. We usually get our standards of productivity from family, teachers, role models, bosses, and friends.

Give this some thought:
If you had all of the time and talent you want, and no obligations, what are three things you would most want to be doing with your time that would make you feel good about yourself and give meaning and value to your life:

If you were doing any of these, how do you imagine you would feel about yourself and your life:


Of course we are “sheltering in place” because our health and that of our loved ones is a priority.

How would you define your priorities and what being productive meant to you pre-pandemic?


Have any of those priorities changed as a result of the pandemic, needing to shelter in place, and the changes in your activities it requires. You may now have a surplus of time available and not knowing quite what to do with that time, or too much to do and needing to make choices.

Consider this: For most of us, individual productivity means completing tasks that put you closer to accomplishing your goals in a timely manner and helps bring a sense of control to your life.

Before the Pandemic hit, what were the activities you did that made you feel productive?

What activities were you not doing that would have made you feel more productive?
a) Approaching work as an opportunity to learn, to be creative and to feel a sense of accomplishment.
b) Exercising and eating well to maintain your health.
c) Spending time with family and friends to meet your relational needs.

What else would you include on your list?_____________________


For most of us, being “productive” helps us feel we have a purpose and a sense of usefulness, and that when we are “productive” we are making a difference.

How has society, your peers, your family, teachers, role models, and your own internal voices influenced what your goals are and your definition of productivity?

“You can’t let people set your agenda in life” –Warren Buffet

How well was that working pre-pandemic? Were there things you were spending time on you thought you needed to do but that didn’t feel productive, or kept you from feeling more in control and satisfied with your life?

Has the pandemic changed the way you look at and define what your priorities are, what your goals are, and what it means to be productive?

What activities are worth your time now? Pay attention to your stereotypes!

Things to consider:

Embracing quiet time can make you more creative, better at problem solving and better at coming up with creative ideas. So binge watching TV or just staring into space isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The idea Is to use it to give your mind a break—just avoid using it too often or as your regular go-to activity.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a coaching client many years ago. He was a successful screen writer, and he said: “My wife doesn’t understand, my most productive time in my writing is when I’m out on our balcony, taking in the scenery, and letting my mind wander. That’s where all my good ideas are born.”

Social Media—it can help you feel less isolated. Just don’t use it as a substitute for most of or all your social activity. Are there any of your social media “friends” you can call, do Face Time with, or send a note to? The more personal the contact, the more satisfying and productive it will be. Studies have shown that too much time on social media can leave you feeling depressed.

Think about which activities you are currently doing that make you feel more productive, and which are not. One of the ironic outcomes of not purposely taking a mental and physical break from your to-do list, is this: regularly thinking about what you need to do can create stress, especially if you don’t feel like doing it, and as the stress builds, it gets harder to get those things done!

What I’ve noticed for some people: they’ve started to recognize what activities they have been engaging in and no longer can, that aren’t necessary or even desirable. Some have found freeing up mental space has made them think about what they’ve put off that they wanted to do, and the extra time has given them the opportunity to make that happen.

It will make a difference in the quality of your life if you take some time to reflect and evaluate which activities make you feel *productive* and which ones don’t, before you actually adopt new habits that will make your life truly more productive. Define “productivity” as activities and attitudes that make you feel better about yourself as a person, make your life feel easier and more enriched, and brings value and meaning to your life.

Can you think of any goals you previously set and accomplished, but didn’t feel the kind of satisfaction you wanted?

Have there been times when you felt a sense of fulfillment without being aware of setting a goal? What were the circumstances?

What are you currently doing you would like to do more of—or less of?
What are you not currently doing you would like to do?

Measure your productive days by: Did you learn one thing?
Did you help and/or inspire one person?

“There’s no reason not to follow your heart.” –Steve Jobs

I hope this has given you some food for thought. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.

And, if there are any subjects you’d like me to write about, I’d be interested in knowing what they are.

Feel free to send this to anyone you think might be interested.


Share Button