Productivity has become a common factor in the days that we all have. It is like the dashboard in a car that influences how we get to our destination. Even though we may have moments to dread the idea of having to do work, we realize that we’ll never be able to move forward unless we get our jobs done, so we eventually do it.
Working is inescapable, and we now live in a society where the demand for work is so high, but the amount of people willing to work has decreased. Moreover, we’re called to be productive and figure out what we want to work on for the rest of our lives to be successful. Do we ever really know what we want to do when we’re supposed to? Not always, but we know we won’t succeed if we expect it to be given to us for free. It comes at a price, and we have to work for it.
I have always been a productive person. I’m used to working not to fall behind. I work hard, knowing it always pays off. My success as valedictorian in high school, getting scholarships to pay for college, getting my first internship, and maintaining my dean’s list position in college while being in extracurriculars wasn’t given to me for free. I worked for that.
As a result, I’ve worked tirelessly to achieve the best I can for myself, and I still work hard today, but I’ve realized that working too hard also comes at a price, a not-so-pleasant one. For that reason, I’ve concluded that productivity has a double edge sword; here’s why.
Being Productive Guides You To Success
When you’re productive, you’re setting yourself up to make a change that’s good for you. You make changes while working toward getting a task done for yourself and others. You make a difference by making your bed, washing the dishes, and flushing the toilet after you use it because you make the house cleaner for yourself and others.
Additionally, your changes can expand to include work with long-term benefits such as doing your homework every day to do well in school, getting a job to be financially stable, and working toward being a great partner to your significant other to have a healthy long-term relationship. Working to achieve great results brings you one step closer to being a successful person, and it’s proven that there are benefits to being productive.
Being productive makes the time that you relax more rewarding. When you decide to unwind, you do so knowing you got more done than when you started. You can feel happy, empowered, and satisfied knowing you can achieve something. Additionally, you feel a sense of purpose when you set yourself up to complete a task, and you have more opportunities to work toward success when you feel motivated to use your time to work.
As a result, it is said that happy people get more work done more efficiently. According to a 2015 study at the University of Warwick in the UK, it is found that they’re precisely 12% more productive than the average individual. Ultimately, productivity creates happiness and influences productivity, so it all works together.
In addition, being productive helps reduce your workload as you develop time management skills. You begin to learn how to control your time and use it. Being productive has enabled me to create a working system in college where I work toward only a set time on my daily responsibilities. It helps me not to feel pressured to complete all of my work at once, and it allows me to divide my assignments to do on special days to have it all done by the end of the week. It’s practical, and it will enable me to share with other people in life by having moments to have fun and live my life with no worries, even if it’s for a brief time.
Lastly, productivity helps to produce a stronger work ethic that gives you an excellent reputation among the people you work with. This is important for internships and jobs. Your work ethic will speak for you as you are given opportunities to apply for positions in the workforce. Besides experience in a field, employers look for employees to have a strong work ethic and be professional. You develop strong work habits when you place yourself in a position to be willing to work, and you’re able to work toward the long-term goals of living independently with wealth when you’re in a job that provides you with good benefits.
In sum, being productive is a healthy way to self-regulate and accomplish goals that give you great benefits and work habits. I’ve learned to value the benefits of being productive by looking ahead when I am unmotivated to work. It’s good to be on the move, but there are moments that you need to consider when you are being too productive. If you don’t, it will lead to you being hit by the other edge of the sword.
Being Overly Productive Can Burn You Out
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that less is best. This applies to my skills as an editor and also as a worker. In my high school yearbook, I won the title of the “workaholic” of my senior class. When I looked back to my days in high school, where I invested all of my time working rather than having fun like teenagers my age, I began to see how much of a workaholic I was, and I wouldn’t say I liked it.
I used to be an adrenaline junkie who not only grew to want to work all the time but needed to work all the time. I became restless when I didn’t have work because I was so used to working. Having work to do was my coping mechanism for combating the loneliness I would feel, never fitting in with anybody and wanting to be one step ahead. Consequently, I would work to the point that I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with my family, I wouldn’t sleep a lot, I wouldn’t eat as much, and I would be more unhappy in feeling like I was never done with my job.
As successful as I was in my hard work, I didn’t know how to live a well-balanced life, and I suffered from that until I started college. I learned that it is not good to work so much at once. Being overproductive has its drawbacks. When you invest so much into your responsibilities, you forget to invest in your self-care and mental health. Therefore, one of the most significant consequences that we can suffer from is stress.
We typically feel stressed in our education, extracurriculars, jobs, and involvements with other people. Stress harms our mental health as it affects our heart, immune and metabolic functions, and hormones that work with the brain. It also increases our chances of experiencing anxiety and depression, which causes long-term consequences. It is something that we’re made to learn how to control. The most excellent start to fixing that is taking breaks. It’s okay to separate yourself from your work and relax; your body needs it more than you think.
Furthermore, working too hard also makes you tired in more ways than one. You become exhausted as you never truly rest. Your mind ponders too much on the work you have to do, which affects your physical and emotional health as you can suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia. You also become exhausted in your work if you do too much of it. You can lose a passion or interest in the work that you do when you no longer feel enthusiastic about working anymore. When this happens, you are experiencing burnout.
According to author Clark Gaither, burnout “comprises three main components - emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of a sense of personal accomplishment in one's work.” Emotional exhaustion entails you feeling drained and worn out. Depersonalization causes you to observe yourself outside of your body and feel disconnected from what occurs around you. When you find yourself feeling unhappy about what you’re doing, you fail to see the worth in what you are doing and you no longer feel as if you’ve accomplished anything. If anything, you feel as if you have wasted your time. All of these components are part of burnout.
Having burnout can ruin your motivation to work, your health, and your commitments. In high school, I realized that I was being too productive. I couldn’t answer the simple questions of what I liked to do for fun and couldn’t define myself as anyone else but a student who works.
I concluded that I wanted to change that and have my life be more than just working. For all those that have experienced burnout and don’t know if it’s possible to do more than work, I can reassure you that it is possible, and there are more ways to do it than you think.
Ways I Have Balanced My Life
It is said that it’s good to be productive, but it's not good to overdo it. It’s crucial to balance getting just the right amount of work done while having opportunities to have downtime. It can be easier said than done initially, but you will find what works for you to divide your time.
For me, I use a set study timer where I only allow myself to do work for a limited amount of hours every day so I can have some time to unwind. I dedicate at least 4 hours of my time every day to getting work done. In the times I am not working, I am eating, resting, talking to my family and boyfriend, praying, and watching videos. Having time away from the work I have to do allows me to get energized to continue working again later on. It reduces the risk of burnout while enabling you to remain productive without getting lazy.
Having a block time is practical and easily adaptable. If you want a block time that includes breaks in between, there are Pomodoro timer apps that you can use to guide your study time and motivate you to reach the finish line. Pomodoro allows you to decide how long you want to study and create a timer to enhance your pacing. It also helps you to prevent exhaustion by giving you opportunities to take small breaks to refresh while not losing your full train of thought.
Additionally, another tool to help limit your productivity is a planner. Planners help you to divide your work by days, so you don’t invest an extensive amount of time in working hard. Planners help me to separate my workload evenly between my academics and my internship. You can use a physical planner or calendar app and start organizing your responsibilities depending on your schedule and availability. It’s a great start to having self-control over your life and allowing yourself to have breaks.
Being productive comes as a double edge sword. While it is great to have products in your life, it can quickly become too much and lead to burnout if it is not controlled. It took me time to learn that there is a way to balance my life, but I’m glad I learned now while I am a student. It’s never too late to make changes in your life, especially if it is made to benefit you. Life will not stop for you; you have to be the one to take control of your life rather than have your life control you. Making changes in your life may not come quickly, but it is worthwhile when you can accomplish the best of both worlds by working hard while having time to enjoy yourself.
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