Is Productivity Killing You?

Productivity secrets and life hacks are great. At least, I love them.


I often find myself browsing online and clicking on nearly every link promising life changing “hacks” to make my days more productive and easier. When I scan through an article I find myself thinking - wow! these could actually work!


Every once in a blue moon I may actually apply one to my life - sometimes to great success.


One of my favorite “hacks” is making layered salads in mason jars for the week. Saves so much time and money later in the week. Gives me an easy, healthy, go-to lunch everyday, and means I have one less decision to make at 6am- which is always appreciated.


So I love these things. And honestly, I think much of the first world does as well.


Who doesn’t want tools to help us make less daily decisions, get things done in less time and with less stress?


So what is wrong with these?


Well fundamentally nothing. In fact, the more clever ideas can help people, the better.


However, I would argue that what is wrong is not the ideas themselves, but what they represent. 


Ultimately, the popularity of these ideas shows us that we live in a society that prizes productivity and getting more done in less time. 


“Well, duh…” you might say, “whats wrong with that?” 


Well nothing - until it gets in the way of resting and down time.


The problem I see is that we so badly want to get more and more done that when we reach a point emotionally, physically and/or mentally when we need a break - we struggle to actually give ourselves a break without overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. We feel guilty about off time. We feel FOMO (fear of missing out) for fear of missing something fun. On sick days we find ourselves still working - just from home.


There is something wrong with this.


When our bodies reach the point where we get signals to slow down and rest we need to listen, respond and honor them.


Instead, we see this as weakness and as something that we can work or play through.


Side Note: Going and doing fun things whether playing a sport, hiking, going out for drinks - as much as they can be rejuvenating to a certain extent - these things still do not count as rest because you come home just as exhausted, if not more so than when you left.


So what do I propose?


I propose that we give ourselves PERMISSION.


We give our society and our friends permission to take a break.


Rather than guilt our friends into joining us when they tell us they need a day off - we should respect it and tell them we both understand and are impressed they are taking care of themselves.


Rather than reach out to coworkers on their sick days to see if they are well enough to get some work done - we should encourage them to turn off their cell phones and email and allow themselves to fully recover for work the following day. 


Rather than beat ourselves up over not getting the to do list done on a Saturday - we should respect our bodies and the innate understanding they have about our needs - and remember that anything that needs to get done can be completed the following day when our energy is back to normal.


And when we find ourselves craving a nap rather than a run on a Thursday afternoon- we should be willing to listen to that as well (within certain reason - we don’t want nap time taking over exercise).


Because ultimately if we give ourselves the time we so deeply crave to rest and be still and truly recover - we can and will be stronger than we can ever imagine when we reemerge fully recharged.


So what do you say?


Lets make a pact with one another to consciously choose to run on full battery rather than half. Lets make the intentional effort to no longer guilt ourselves or others when they need a day off and be willing to listen to the cues our bodies are giving us day in and day out.


Because I can only imagine how awesome this world could be if everyone were fully engaged and living life to their fullest.



In the comments tell me, what are your thoughts on productivity and how does it hurt or help you in your day to day life?

Time To Rest

What are your associations with REST?


Are they positive? Negative?


If you live in America or another results-oriented culture, rest tends to have a negative association.


We often see stories glorifying the overworked, under slept, successful entrepreneur who manages to build a business despite all odds, no matter the time and cost to his/her personal life. And we look to these stories for inspiration. As the example of what we want to be. And what we want to be able to do.


We believe that the only way to success is to burn the candle on both ends. Schedule life so you can do it all.


Have a family, start a business, work full time, build the perfect body, etc, etc… 


And the crazy thing is we believe it!


We believe anyone can do it with the right motivation and tools.


We often think the only thing standing in the way is the right schedule, the right morning routine or the perfect planner.


Millions of dollars are made by people in this segment creating perfect planners, helping you design that perfect routine, or teaching you to multitask like a boss so NOTHING can get in your way.


So what is wrong with this? 


Is there something wrong with this?


And what about the people who have managed to find real success in this matter?


Well, to them I say - amazing! What you’ve managed to do is impressive - and it is possible. Many people don’t have a choice and have to live the overworked lifestyle just to survive. And they do it. And they make it work. Sometimes for a season and sometimes longer - but yes it is possible.


However, do I think it should be considered the norm for success or even glorified? 


No. Not at all.


I think the glorification of the overworked entrepreneur or successful business person who has climbed the ranks to success and fame is a damaging idol for our culture. 


And not a very realistic one at that.


I can say with near certainty that almost every one of us knows someone who fits this description of "doing it all" at once. And many of us have seasons in our lives where this is us. 


We also know, deep in our gut, whether we want to admit it or not, that this lifestyle is not sustainable. That in fact, it is dangerous. That living this way risks damaging our health, our relationships, our alertness and ultimately ourselves.


Study after study have shown the negative effects of little rest on the human body. We are all a bit different in terms of what we may need, but the one commonality between us, is a need for rest. 




So what is REST?


Rest is allowing your body and mind to stop. It’s saying no to the social obligations on the weekend. It’s giving your body an off day from the gym. It’s spending quality family time reconnecting, without the demands of work or technology interrupting. 


Rest is allowing yourself to pause. To take a deep breath. To meditate. To pray. To be creative. To play music. To read. To do relaxing yoga or enjoy a lazy walk on the beach. Rest is down time. It’s turning the mind off.


Rest is so simple and yet so complicated.


And at one point in time it was the norm.


It wasn’t that long ago that on a Sunday, shops either weren’t open or had very limited hours. You couldn’t go grocery shopping or to the mall. In fact, when I was living in South Africa this was common. Not in the city, but if you were in a small town, good luck getting any shopping done on a Sunday (especially after 2pm). 


South Africa has a culture that understands rest and holiday. That understands Sundays are for time with God and time with your family.


A big family lunch was the norm after church on Sunday, where friends and family gathered to make food, break bread together and rest (even completely pass out on the couch next to one another).


I am sad that this isn’t the norm here in the US and really believe it is something that needs to be brought back.


Instead in the States, a Sunday is like any other day of the week. Shops are open, people are out and about, students are grinding through their homework and people treat it as just another day of the week.


When did this change?


When did we lose the ability to stop?


When did we start to look down upon those who take time off for themselves to enjoy life, their families and the other joys of life?


When did we forget how to turn off? How to rest?


I have a number of theories. Everything from the workaholic “American Dream” culture that keeps this country running to our materialistic desires that would have motivated businesses to keep their doors open on a Sunday because it was and is a great day for sales. There are a myriad of reasons and I’m sure they all played a part.


Regardless, I think we need to take the rest day back


Each one of us needs to make a commitment to ourselves. To our families. 


We need to make a commitment to allow ourselves to rest - without guilt, without fear, without the need for distraction. To allow ourselves to really listen to our bodies and be willing to respond, even if that request is as simple as going to take a nap - and not feel guilty about it. 


We need to structure our lives so that we CAN have a rest day each week.


Can you imagine the impact this could have on you - your family - even your creative mind?


By allowing yourself time and space you never know what kind of creative revelations may come. 


It’s why I believe we hear so many stories of people having genius ideas pop in their minds while showering or doing something repetitive like running. These are moments in our daily routine when we aren’t thinking about anything in particular and our thoughts wander.


Now imagine structuring this time into your life for an entire day, once a week, for the rest of your life.


Can you imagine what would happen?


I can’t. But I bet it would be awesome.


So I have decided.


As of today, I commit to myself to set aside time once a week where I allow myself to shut off. To not feel guilty for allowing myself to rest. To sleep. To do those creative things that make me come alive, yet continuously put off.


I would bet that even with the perceived lost time, I will make more progress and be more productive than ever before in the time I do have.


So will you join me?


Will you commit to give yourself time to rest? To shut off?


Because I bet we will all see amazing results.