Remembering Why

(Originally published on SuperYesMore)

Your productivity is all about you.

I don’t ever like to advocate for lists like “10 ways to boost your productivity today”.

Productivity is personal. Everyone’s ideas about it are different. We all seek a definition of it, and when we find one that sounds sensible, we put precious energy into achieving it. However, if it’s someone else’s definition, there’s not a huge chance we will achieve it and this can leave us feeling bad.

Seeking an easy answer or universal definition for something like productivity is not unusual. Encapsulating something into one definition is easy and tidy. We can move onto the next thing quickly. It’s one of our many priorities we can attend to and then cross off the list.

Not only is it kind of useless to have one definition of productivity because it’s personal to each of us, but the way we feel about things is transient in nature. Emotions are fleeting, priorities get re-shuffled, things constantly change. What works for us at one point in time may not work at another.

Exploring what helps to increase your productivity at any given point in time is a great opportunity to learn about yourself. One way to begin this process is to think, and really get to the root of, why you do the things you do.

Before doing this, it’s really good to remember that trying to achieve a perfect level of productivity isn’t a good idea. In the increasingly competitive environments we find ourselves in, we tend to strive for perfection to try and stay ahead of everyone else. However, when we fail to meet the mark we set for ourselves, we become understandably disappointed. There is no perfect mark, there is only doing the best we can. Perfection isn’t an achievable goal, but doing our best is something much more within our control.

When I wanted to increase my productivity in my job as a web developer, I thought back to what excited me about it in the past. I used to enjoy huge levels of productivity and motivation just as I was beginning my new career.

I was reading articles and blog posts, watching videos, meeting more and more people in the creative community around me, enjoying connecting with them, having interesting discussions, and getting lots of advice. Part of the excitement came from everything being new. I can almost compare it to the honeymoon period at the beginning of a relationship. It was a great buzz. I also spent a lot of time outside in the job I had before being a developer, which helped me clear my mind and relax. Most importantly, it was way easier to give myself breaks from coding.

These days, I work inside for at least 8 hours a day as a developer. I have less time for the things that I really enjoyed about development in the beginning. Once I reflected on this, I remembered the things that used to really excite and motivate me. I then figured out some things I could do to enjoy more productivity in my job.

Three of these things are:

Through reflection about what motivated me in the past, I not only learned what it takes for me to be happier and more productive at work, but also what makes me happy and productive in general. I think it's possible to apply this reflection to any part of life.

Sometimes when we’re really busy and juggling a lot of things, it’s hard to remember why certain things are important. If we take time to reflect on where we used to be, where we are now and remember where we got our motivation for these things in the first place, it might help us be a bit more productive.