Productivity: It’s Not What You Think It Is

New year, new commitments. The two phrases are linked together that a person can say one without the other and not lose the meaning. No doubt 2017 will bring once again the endless search of productivity. Tables will be created, applications will be downloads, and processes will be put into place all with the idea that this is what it takes to be more productive. There’s one problem with your productivity goals for 2017: I suspect productivity does not mean what you think it does.
It seems fitting that my Monday Motivations post, meant to encourage us to be and do more, would address the issue of productivity. After a haphazard year due to some major life changes, I maintain a hope of getting back on track for 2017. I am certain that others may have a similar hope as well. Therefore the next couple of weeks, I  plan on tackling this topic with the idea that we can learn, grow, and be encouraged in this endeavor.  Yet it is important to start with a right foundation.
Setting the foundation of productivity requires two major actions. The first is that we must have a right understanding of what it is. With an increase of technology and a decrease in both accountability and integrity our understanding of productivity is misdefined and misapplied. The second related concern is the right placement of it in our lives. For many the desire to be productive rules one’s life, being elevated to the role of idol worship. Thus the process of building a foundation for productivity requires the deconstruction of the current one.
Consider the following three areas and the teachings surrounding each concept that have shaped your own understanding:
  1. False Explanations: Ask most people and the standard definition/explanation of productivity is some variation of getting the most things done ins the shortest amount of time. This definition is rooted in the idea of efficiency. Because this is the standard understanding it conveys the idea that productivity can be increased with a few applications and the institution of some quick fixes. Such a definition fails to capture interruptions, delays, people, and sin.
  2. False Expectations: Ultimately the definition proves to be the most basic part of any concept, infiltrating every other area as a result. Therefore the false definition we have leads first to false expectations. The expectations are manifested through completeness and conformity. First, productivity is measured in terms of completing a project and thus is very task-oriented. Second is it insinuates the idea of conformity, noting that every person will perform at the same level and to not meet these minimum standards is failure.
  3. False Evidence: As the explanation dictates the expectations, the expectations dictate the evidence. Because one expects completeness of a task and conformity to a certain level, people grasp for any evidence they can find to ‘prove’ their productivity (also insinuating this is proof of their worth). For many then, the evidence of productivity is not found in the outcomes that one achieves, but in the testimony of busyness that one portrays.
False explanations, false expectations, and false evidence have found the foothold in societal productivity creating negative effects on what is truly accomplished.
Our goal should be to institute a right definition of productivity so that we may rightly institute it in our lives. Productivity has been given permission to control us instead of us controlling it. Therefore, we must recapture the heart of the issue dealing with it rightly, something I plan to do in the next couple of posts.
Photo Credit: Photo ‘Productivity’ is courtesy of user Joel Dueck and Flickr.