The Balance of Productivity

Let’s talk about productivity. It may seem odd to talk about this before jumping into resiliency, but we are laying a foundation. The Oxford dictionary defines productivity as: the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. I have heard a person is often measured by their level of productivity in the workplace.

The author of Radical Candor, Kim Scott, talks about people’s productivity around work. Some people work best and most productive in 30 hours while others thrive on 60 hours a week because they love to work. When doing a self evaluation, she talks about the importance of not comparing ourselves to others amounts of time we put into something when the productivity is the same.

Self-Evaluation: I love being productive. I am also driven. The Oxford dictionary defines a person who is driven as: relentlessly compelled by the need to accomplish a goal; very hard-working and ambitious. This is me, until it’s not. Let me explain. I wake up at 7 a.m., pull my goal planner out, set high expectations for the day and off to the races I go. I work, tirelessly until 10 p.m., if necessary. I have a list of tasks completed and have moved to next steps. I feel great, happy and ready for the next day. The next morning comes and I am sluggish. I have decreased will to have another day like that again so soon.

On productive days I thrive in the middle of things. I want to feel needed. I get in a grove and pour everything into it. Then, I get tired. My inner critic starts marching in and I forget to take a breath. I end up discouraged and not wanting to do anything the next day. When the next day comes I spend hours evaluating “how to make my life better” and attempting to be emotionally fit. I run on full speed for 15 hours in the name of productivity, but I’m burning myself out in the meantime.

My life is never been regulated by one job, I tend to focus on immediate needs of the work or the people around me. Do I have photos to edit, a project to finish for my nursing job or does someone need me for something? I am a 2 on the Enneagram, if you are wondering. I will drop almost anything if I feel I can be invaluable to someone or a situation. I can do all this in one day when I’m not wearing my nursing hat. I rush to accomplish everything on my list because the next day I am scheduled at the hospital for a full 12-hour shift. The third day I may be catching up at home or on appointments. This has created a habit of up and down expectations of myself around productivity.

I have come to realize that I operate like a nurse even on my days off. A nurse has her day set by policy and procedures, medication times and patient needs. The day is marked by things getting accomplished. A great nurse adds some goals into the day in hopes of encouraging the patient to conquer the day. After a long shift, it’s time to rest and get ready to go back for the next scheduled shift. This is how my brain is wired. I operate like a nurse everyday. I have my tasks and I push through until the end of the day. I have no boundaries and wonder why I can’t take a break.

Anyone outside of shift work may have different work patterns, but I believe no matter what work we do, we can loose balance in the name of productivity. Balance for me means giving myself grace to not have to press through every day to get more work done. It’s the permission to enjoy the work of my labor. It’s choosing what “winning” the day looks like every day. Sure, some days are busier than other days. Giving ourselves permission to fill that space with grace when we don’t accomplish everything is key. It is how we will learn to rest. I’m speaking to myself here, but I hope this also gives you permission to create this balance for yourself as well.

When we find the need for resiliency, the balance we have found between productivity and rest will be essential. If you are a leader in your company, modeling this balance is a great way to care for the emotional health of your team. I just enjoyed some sessions at the this week. One tip around balance was to email the team saying something like “We just had a big project finish and I’m going to take Friday afternoon off. I encourage you to do the same.” This is giving permission to your team to rest because you are modeling the behavior. Just food for thought as you find this balance for yourself.

I’m going to practice some balance by having an unplugged Sunday. I hope you enjoy some rest this weekend as well.



Published by Stephanie Trowbridge

Follower of Jesus. Artist. Wife. Mother.

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