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What’s the Downside of Increasing Productivity?

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Practically everyone wants to increase productivity. But are there any downsides to becoming more productive? One article lists several enormous, yet hidden costs to increased efficiency.

That’s the topic of a blog post at A Year of Productivity. Chris Bailey writes:

People like the idea of becoming a more productive person. They, like me, want to be known as “that guy” or “that girl” who wakes up at 5:30 every morning to run, meditate, read, and eat a huge, healthy breakfast before most of the world even wakes up.

The problem, of course, is you can’t become more productive overnight. You don’t just get to be more productive because you decide to – you have to work at becoming more productive; pushing on the outer boundaries of your potential until they budge. If you could simply decide to be more productive, you would be!

Increasing Productivity: Drinking Coffee

© Flickr user iotae

So what are the “four, huge hidden costs of becoming more productive?” According to the blogger:

  1. Becoming more productive eats up time
  2. Becoming more productive sucks up your willpower
  3. Some results of becoming more productive are invisible at first, which is discouraging
  4. Productivity can turn you into a robot

The last time we covered problems with increasing productivity it was related to working from home. (Check the article for more details.) Usually, we here at The Methodology Blog are covering the advantages of increased productivity.

Bailey’s points are well-taken. But perhaps the most significant is #4, the concern that getting more done can make you feel robotic. Accomplishing more shouldn’t be about moving faster through repetitive tasks. Instead, it’s should be about creating more time to have more freedom to innovate..

His advice makes great sense:

  1. Start with your values. And if you don’t know them, look to your actions and work backward.
  2. Hook your productivity goals into your values. I can’t think of a better place for your goals to come from.
  3. Every day, live intentionally, making sure you reflect on-the-fly how your actions are linked to your long-term productivity goals.
  4. Act with more motivation, drive, and ambition than ever before. Really.

Don’t be afraid of increased productivity. Be afraid of working without meaning, or a workplace devoid of values. That’s a recipe for disengagement and frustration.

Instead focus on what’s possible—and set your sights on making it happen.

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