Stop Beating Yourself Up: You Can Be Productive Without Guilt

The flip side of being productive is that there are always things you didn't get around to doing. Scott Hanselman points out that productivity doesn't have to come with that level of guilt. If it does, it's time to change your method.

Image by Sean MacEntee.

Scott outlines a number of tips that we've covered in detail before, such as the importance of keeping an eye on where your time goes and not checking email first thing in the morning. But he also reminds us not to beat ourselves up over the work we didn't accomplish, and not to get caught up in the rat race to the bottom of our to-do lists. As long as you're doing the things you really need to get done, you're in good shape.

It's a point that is often lost when we talk about how to be more productive: your to-do list never really has a bottom, and there's always something else to do. So if there is something you really want to do, schedule it. Get it on the calendar and find time for it so you'll commit to it, Hanselman suggests; otherwise let it go. There will always be something you didn't get around to doing, and the whole point of a productivity system is to make sure those things are the ones that aren't important.

If you're paralysed by fear of missing out, make a list of those things you want to stay on top of and find time for them. Most importantly, Hanselman reminds us that no productivity system should be set in stone:

Don't feel so bad about not getting enough stuff done. Eat well, sleep well, say NO more often and try your best. Remember you can always make a small change in your system and try again tomorrow.

How do you draw the line between feeling productive about the things you've done versus feeling guilty over the things you haven't done? Let us know in the comments below.

Productivity vs. Guilt and Self-Loathing [Scott Hanselman]


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