Are You in Productivity Purgatory?

July 2, 2023

Tell me whether this sounds familiar:

You’ve got some important thing to do. It’s on your to-do list. In fact, it’s been on your to-do list for a while.

But you’re not working on this important thing.

Instead, you’re doing much less important work. Work that doesn’t move the needle at all. Or perhaps you’re simply killing the time on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

You’re not doing any important work, but you feel that you should be, so you don’t allow yourself to fully relax, either. You allow yourself to pretend that you’re working and you allow yourself to engage in some mindless distractions, but you don’t allow yourself to step away and do something really fun. You don’t allow yourself a true break from work.

This is productivity purgatory.

(I was recently a guest on a podcast and the host introduced me to this phrase. I’ll share the episode with you when it’s out.)

You’re in productivity purgatory when you’re not productive, but you’re not allowing yourself a break, either.

Sound familiar?

Next time you find yourself there, instead of continuing to feel guilty yet not producing anything, just stop. Get up from your desk. Call it quits on this workday. Forget about the important thing entirely. Allow yourself a proper break.

Often, the reason you’re having a hard time with this important work is that it requires you to be fresh. It requires creativity. It requires focus.

How do you put yourself in a fresh, creative, focused state? By first allowing yourself to truly relax. And relaxing doesn’t have to mean physically relaxing, like going to the spa. (Although I love going to the spa.) It’s more about mentally relaxing, which, hey, you know for yourself how you do that. I’ve recently discovered that jumping out of an airplane is great for taking my mind off work!

Give yourself the permission to take a break when you need it. Step out of the productivity purgatory. You’ll come back refreshed and crush that important task—and you’ll have had some fun in the meantime!

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