Productivity Is a Tool, Not a Virtue

With many people still working from home, finding the right work-life balance is more difficult than ever. Here’s an important rule of thumb: Productivity is a means, not an end. Hard work should be viewed as a tool for reaching your goals rather than an inherently noble character trait.

A professional who gives the impression of being on the clock at nearly all hours of the day seems inherently better than one who engages in lengthy periods of idleness. Periods of intense concentration and dedicated labor should be used to complete concrete, measurable goals.

For the majority of humanity’s history, this was how labor was organized, with all work being performed in short bursts of productivity. These periods of intense activity were initiated to fulfill specific goals; for example, farmers would till and sow fields for harvest and hunters would bring down game for future meals. After the labor had been completed, most humans celebrated or rested.

Part of true productivity cycles, then, are specific end goals, which professionals must decide upon in advance. Individual tasks are always a means to achieve an end. If a given task doesn’t serve an end goal, then it’s possible that the time spent engaged in that task should be reduced or eliminated.

Work is an activity that provides financial resources, but that doesn’t mean it should be the center of your life. Ready to reclaim your downtime? Optimize your workday with our Instaread on Do Nothing.

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