Stop Focusing on Productivity and Save More Time

If you're constantly afraid you're wasting time, you probably are.

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Licensed Professional Counselor, Life Coach, Speaker, and Author
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Becoming a mass producer or multitasker is a badge of honor these days. Productivity is such a necessary part of life, but it can rob you of riches you can only access when you're not being productive. Sitting idle or not being productive can make people feel guilty, anxious and overwhelmed. These uncomfortable and uneasy feelings can be very hard to cope with. It’s not only about "not doing anything" it's also about constantly evaluating whether you're making the right decision or doing the right thing so you're not wasting time or life.

Let's look at one example: Beth is a young, high-achieving perfectionist. She graduated from an Ivy League school and is currently working with the big wigs of her company as an executive. She has very high expectations for herself in pretty much all areas of her life. She struggles with dating because she moves on to the next person too quickly. She constantly feels the need to evaluate her relationship because she is afraid of wasting time with the wrong person. Her doesn’t allow her to experience being vulnerable and in love with her partner. Because she doesn’t connect with her partner on a deeper level, she convinces herself that the person is not right for her. She quickly ends her relationship so she doesn’t waste time. The cycle starts all over again. Her fear of wasting time prevents her from taking the time to truly get to know her partner. In reality, she wastes more time by ending and starting new relationships pretty much every six months on average.   

Related: 4 Ways to Be More Productive, Not Just Busy

Being afraid of wasting your life away is an unfortunate phenomenon

Can you relate as an entrepreneur? Have you done something similar with your business projects or endeavors? Being afraid of wasting your life away is an unfortunate phenomenon, especially among perfectionists; 90 percent of the people I work with feel this time crunch. Personally, I've “wasted time” by being afraid of wasting time. 

I'm currently working on creating a digital course in my business. I keep going back to the drawing board with what I want to teach because there is just so much to choose from. I can’t "waste time" by not immediately choosing the perfect course to teach my ideal audience. In reality? I have wasted so much time that I'm still on step one. At times, I get so overwhelmed with anxiety that I just want to quit the whole course-creation project all together. It's not serving me well at all. I bet you know the feeling. 

Related: 8 Ways to Work Smarter and Improve Productivity

Entrepreneurs, generally, share certain tendencies. They're driven and want to make it big without wasting any time. But guess what? You have to slow down at some point so that you can rest and recover. You won't be able to perform at this rate forever. This hunger to achieve and be productive is not going to slow down anytime soon unless you turn inward. You will always be on the go to the next goal.

Pause for a moment and reflect: Have you ever slowed down in your life? When I look back, I always had my next goal lined up before I even achieved my current one. Then, I realized that I'm worthy of love even if I don’t achieve any goal. This course-creation project is reminding me again. It goes back to the example of Beth: Although she was struggling with dating, her real fear was to face the sense of unworthiness rooted in her perfectionist tendencies.  

I, and the people I work with, have found the following practices enormously helpful.

Practice mindfulness

Practicing being in the moment helps you slow down without actually slowing down. When you are fully present in the moment, you tap into so much more information. We miss out on this valuable information and experience when we are in over drive. Whenever you feel anxious or unsettled sitting idle, itching to do more, simply sit with that uncomfortable feeling. Face it. It might make your heart race, but I encourage you to do it anyway. This will help you courageously face the fear that is keeping you on your toes.

Related: Benefits of Mindfulness and Awareness Meditation

Waste time

Next, I would suggest that you take a day to waste time, but mindfully. I bet you have very few memories of actually being in the moment. You think the next goal, next perfect person to date or next mile marker in your business will give you the satisfaction you are after. It will not  I promise you. You will keep chasing and achieving, but one day you will fall short if you don’t pay attention to what is inside rather than what is outside. Taking a day to actually waste time can help you face your fears. 

Be playful

Being more playful improves your quality of life. I'm not saying not to be productive, but integrate it more into your life so you can avoid experiencing the crash of feeling unfulfilled.

You're afraid of what you might find within you, so you keep chasing external achievements. You're really afraid of not being worthy. By achieving great successes, you're really searching for that worth. But you won't find that outside of yourself — or through unrealistic expectations of productivity. 

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