Should Maximum Productivity be the Goal?

Last summer I spent some time one afternoon pickling some hot peppers.  I do a fair amount of canning.  I usually send large amounts of produce through the canning process using methods I’ve streamline over the years to get the most jars of food put up with the least amount of effort and time.  We are talking huge vats of applesauce, bushels of peppers, jars and jars of jam.  I know how to get the maximum amount of canning done in a summer.

That afternoon though?  I pickled two pints of hot peppers.

It was early in the season. We had some hot peppers, but not really enough to be starting the whole giant process of pickled peppers, jalapeno jam, and salsa.  I had these peppers though.  They were pretty colors.  I wanted to put them in jars.

So I started the process.  With just a few peppers it took almost no time to prep them for the canner.  There was only a small amount of vinegar needed.  I was able to use just my smaller canning pot to process them in a boiling water bath.  I was done in no time.  As I took them out of their water bath I felt a little sting of regret that there were just two of them.  I had heated up that whole pot of water for just two jars of peppers.

two jars of pickled peppers

But they were so pretty!  I realized I had never really spent much time admiring my jars of peppers before.  I am usually completely exhausted by the time the last jars come out of the canner on processing days.  

I needed to do only two jars of peppers to realize how pretty they were.

They made me smile a different smile than a sea of jars did.

Getting the Most Things Done

If you do any surfing of the internet related to task management you will end up with article after article in your media feed telling you how to get the most things done in your day.  Eat the frog first, knock items off your list with a Pomodoro timer, listen to podcasts while exercising.  

I get it.  I also want to get the most I can get done in the time I have.  I have lots of things I want to do.  I’m very task oriented and I love crossing things off my to do list.  I have tried all. the. things.  I am always checking out the newest productivity app to see if it will finally allow me to work the way I want to.

But in actuality, there will always be more to do.  We have so much in our lives now that it’s hard to know when to quit.  We keep trying to squeeze just a little bit more in our day – to just get a little more done each day. 

Because we think if we just get more done we will feel like we accomplished something and that will bring us peace. But just doing more and more and more won’t bring the peace we want.

Getting the Right Things Done

I smiled at those peppers.  But those two jars of peppers were not some vast accomplishment, right?  No, what happened that day was that I took the time to appreciate the process and the results of growing and canning peppers.  I savored the process. I love to grow my own food.  Growing, storing and cooking with what I have stored makes my heart sing.  Not because it saves me much money.  I just plain get a kick out of it.  I also love having a sea of jars of applesauce finished on the counter, but I can get so wrapped up in making it go as fast as possible that I often forget to enjoy the process.

Are you doing anything just because you get a kick out of it?  Or are you so caught up in just getting done as much as you possibly can that you’ve forgotten why you are doing it?  

Do you want to get the things done that will make you smile at the end of the day?

If you’d like some help getting off the maximum productivity hamster wheel, read on and check out my tips with links below to start getting YOUR right things done 🙂

Feeling a bit overwhelmed?  Get off the Maximum Productivity Wheel

Know what’s most important

If you are going to get done what gives you that two jars of peppers smile at the end of the day, you have to know what is most important to you.  It can be hard to figure that out in a world that is constantly telling you what it thinks is most important.  But take the time to really understand what you want in life, and you will have more smiles at the end of your days.

Focus on the important

Once you know what’s important to you, focus on getting that done in a sea of other demands. 

Avoid the urgency trap 

We humans default to doing the most urgent tasks first.  I bet you’ve been there.  You have a paper to write or other thought intensive work, or a garage to clear out.  You really should work on it first thing in the morning while you are still fresh.  But there are just a few little things you could get knocked off your to do list that have to get done today.  The next thing you know, it’s after lunch, and you are sleepy and struggling to even begin that important task.

The Eisenhower Matrix is one productivity method that is deisgned to help you avoid the urgency trap.  Implementing some of its strategies can help you get the important done.

Get the most bang out of your effort 

Ever spend all day making calls and in the end you realize you could have predicted which one was going to be the one that made the difference?  It’s easy to spend lots of time getting lots of things done but not really making any real progress.  You need to be able to identify which of those things you are doing is the one that really is moving you forward.  Apply the 80/20 rule to help focus on what gives you the most bang for your buck.

Plan for the important

Create margin 

If you’ve ever scheduled your day so tightly that one tiny deviation destroys the whole plan like a line of dominos?  Learn how to create margin in your days. Margin is vital to avoid burning out and not being able to get anything at all done!

Say no

Does your time get commandeered by other people’s projects?  Do you have trouble saying no to requests, or even to yourself when you get distracted?  Learn how to say no.  Your important tasks are actually important too!

Respect mundane tasks

I know I often forget to allow time to do the basic grunt work of living a life.  I’m a midday work out girl who needs to take a shower after that workout.  After many times of rushing out of the house with wet hair at the last minute for an afternoon appointment I learned to actually write ‘take a shower’ on my list and schedule the time to do it instead of getting distracted by ‘more important’ things.  Do you remember to eat when under a deadline?  It has to happen if you are going to be at top form!  When you make your lists of things to do, make sure you respect those mundane tasks that keep your life going.

should maximum productivity be the goal?

How do you get the right things done?

My three steps to getting the right things done are to know, focus and plan the important. It’s worked for me!

Have you gotten off the maximum productivity hamster wheel?  What worked for you?

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