Nine principles of sustainable productivity

Our productivity, or lack of it, is one of the things we beat ourselves up about most. We judge the success of our days by how much we get done. We become fixated on how much we can do, not whether we’re doing the right things. And we put pressure on ourselves to do more, and more, and more. What if there were another way?

Sustainable productivity is an approach to work that takes into account the human element of getting things done. It’s about setting a pace that we’re able to maintain over time and doing work that matters not just work that fills our time.

Here are nine principles of sustainable productivity:

  1. Lay strong foundations. Make time to look after your physical and mental health; we can’t run on empty.
  2. Gather data. Observe, ask questions and run tests. Understand where you are starting from. Get to know what works for you and what doesn’t.
  3. Align tasks and goals. Know what you are doing and why. Keep the destination in sight at all times.
  4. Be realistic. Accept there is a limited amount you can get done in a day. Don’t over commit to yourself or others.
  5. Be ruthless. Protect your time and energy; prioritize, stop busy work, set boundaries, say no.
  6. Experiment. Test productivity methods; keep what works and ditch what doesn’t. Get creative; craft your own system.
  7. Reflect regularly. Pause to check you’re still on the right path, celebrate successes and learn from mistakes.
  8. Learn to reset. Develop strategies that help you to get back on track when obstacles inevitably arise.
  9. Rest. Schedule down-time; short breaks, lunch breaks, days off and holidays. Disconnect. Let your mind and body relax.

This is my first draft of these principles. They’re going to shape a lot of my work this year as I explore them all in more depth. I feel like I’ve written about each one individually, sometimes extensively, but never put them all together before. I’d really appreciate your feedback. Agree? Disagree? Indifferent? Let me know!

Featured image by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

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This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Gathered Thoughts.

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about emma

I am a coach and facilitator helping people to pause, reflect and make conscious choices about what comes next. In my writing I explore themes of personal development, reflective practice and what it means to live well.