You’ve heard it before.
“Create the perfect morning routine!”
“3 Hacks to 10x your productivity!”
“How to force yourself into an unnatural routine to conform to society’s productivity expectations and burn yourself out!”
Okay, maybe not that last one. But it seems like that’s what most “productivity hacks” actually do—force you to create some unattainable goal that doesn’t consider who you are and how you work best.
There’s an idea that gets thrown around a lot— “You have the same 24 hours in a day that Beyonce does.”
Well, sure, technically. But do you have millions of dollars? A personal trainer? A maid, a nanny, an assistant? Queen Bey is fabulous, but she’s also got a lot of help getting the little things, like grocery shopping and laundry, done.
What if you decided you don’t need to 10x your productivity?
(seriously, why are we always 10x-ing things? can’t we just 1x and see how it goes?)
So much of our perceived self-worth is tied up in our work output and overall productivity.
We’re constantly bombarded with messages like:
- We can have it all.
- We should be able to handle it all—and more.
- If we can’t handle it all we’re failing as employees, business owners, partners, parents, or general human beings.
And we’re done with it! Whether it’s The Great Resignation, quiet quitting, or the rise of the anti-work movement. We. Are. Tired.
But quitting the crushing standards of productivity culture is easier said than done. There are a lot of factors that make it impossible for some people to cut back on work and still make enough to meet their needs. We definitely acknowledge that.
We’re specifically talking to you—an entrepreneur who can’t help but do everything yourself or a small business owner that can’t quit working evenings and weekends—and telling you it’s okay to give up someone else’s idea of what productivity means and embrace your own version.
Know Your Limits and Lower Your Expectations
Some people are hummingbirds with unlimited energy, able to get a crazy amount of things accomplished in a day. Some of us are tortoises, slow to start and steadily working through our tasks.
How much can you realistically do in a day? We all have different amounts of bandwidth and mental energy to devote to work. Constantly over-scheduling and over-promising (even to yourself) makes you feel like a failure every time you don’t reach those impossible goals, and leads directly to burning out.
Set yourself up for success by limiting the number of tasks you set yourself in a day. Make it an easily achievable goal. If you have time left over you can complete another task or just take a break!
Let Things Go
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, instead of trying to increase your productivity, can you decrease your responsibilities?
Finding things you can let go of or ask for help with can dial down the pressure to get it all done. Prioritize what’s really important. What absolutely has to get done? And let some of the not-so-important stuff fall away. Then you can structure your day around what actually works for you.
If you’re having trouble prioritizing, check out the Eisenhower Matrix.
Find Your Best Hours
When do you have the most energy? What helps get your brain going? When do you get your best work done? Figure out what works best for you and, as much as possible, plan your days around that information.
Not everyone is a morning person who thrives on routine. If you are, great! If your brain doesn’t really get going until 10 am, don’t start on any really important tasks until then. Maybe you can’t concentrate after 3 pm. Fine, save all of your small-stakes tasks for the afternoon.
If you have the flexibility to set your own schedule, there’s no reason to be chained to a 9-5 mentality.
Keep It Going
Unlearning all of the harmful ideas around productivity doesn’t happen overnight. We still struggle! Case in point: recently, one of our team members was debating taking her laptop on vacation, to PARIS.
We threatened to change all the passwords so she couldn’t work.
Time is a non-renewable resource, and we try our best to protect ours. We think you should, too.
You can follow us on Instagram @upsweptcreative for all of our thoughts about navigating business ethically, sustainably, and professionally.