How to defeat ‘Productivity Shame’


‘Productivity Shame’ is the feeling that you haven’t done enough.

You haven’t accomplished enough, you didn’t work hard enough, you’re not good enough.

In part, it’s caused by believing you “should” accomplish at a certain level or pace. You should work as hard as others do and accomplish as much as they do, and if you don’t, you’re weak and ineffectual.

So, we push ourselves to do more than we’re able to do and set ourselves up to fail.

We do that by setting unrealistic goals or schedules for ourselves, because humans tend to underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a task, and/or overestimate our ability to complete a task in that amount of time.

How can we change this?

First, stop comparing yourself to others.

We all have different goals, responsibilities, and energy. What someone else does (or says they do) may inspire you to attempt to do more but if that doesn’t work for you, stop it and allow yourself to do what you can do.

Because you can only do what you can do.

Your body needs time to rest and recharge and time to do other things. You have to stop beating yourself up because you can’t (or don’t want to) live up to someone else’s standard.

Pushing ourselves when we’re exhausted leads to bad decisions and bad outcomes. Things take longer to do because we’re tired, make mistakes and need time to fix them.

If we keep pushing, it can lead to burnout.

On the other hand, when you work at a pace that’s suited to you, you get more done in less time and you get better results.

Second, focus on what’s important and let go of everything else.

There is never enough time to do everything. Determine your priorities and get them done.

When you do that, when you get your most important tasks done each day, the things you didn’t do don’t matter.

Look at your list of tasks and choose the most important one. Ask yourself, “If I could only get one thing done today, what would it be?”

This doesn’t mean you can’t do more. It means that if get your most important task done, your day has been productive and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Finally, celebrate your accomplishments.

When you have a good day, meaning you accomplished one or more important tasks, pat yourself on the back, forget about everything else, and don’t look back.

Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do.

Feel good about yourself and reward yourself for having a productive day.

Whatever you do, stop caring about what other’s think. What they think is none of your business.

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