I am done with fretting about productivity. I thought it was the only way to go about being a freelance writer. But guess what? It isn’t.
There is a myriad of other ways I can approach the challenge of organising my work and sustaining myself from it. The way I find particularly luring is to make it a quest to enjoy my work. Every bit of it.
The magic of the Present Moment
It all starts in the present. Right here, right now [you can play the song in the background for a better reading experience], as I am sitting at my white desk against the window, being blinded by the Sun beaming into my face. Right here, right now, I am PRESENTed with a choice:
a) I can worry about one of the following: whether I got up early enough today, whether I took good care of myself doing my morning routines, whether or not I checked Facebook way too early and it ruined my productivity. I can also worry about whether I will be able to finish the project on time, whether my friend calls me and asks for a favour, whether I have enough time to finish my to-do list before today’s other commitments. I can also worry about a 101 other factors building up my productivity - which, let’s be honest, could always be increased.
- I can enjoy my work in the present moment.
Now, I took my decision. How about yourself?
Do we really need to choose?
At the first glance, we don’t have to choose between being productive and enjoying our work. I mean, theoretically I can imagine taking care of both at the same time. I can imagine this state of mind when I schedule my work to be as productive as possible and then, if I fail along the way, I don’t beat myself up for it at all.
That’s theory. My experience is quite different.
When I do my best to be productive, I often end up in a loop of never being good enough. Because I know I can always improve. I could always avoid this one moment of distraction in the middle of my working time slot and have had it done earlier, right? I could have always woken up at 6, instead of 6.30, and begin work before anyone else in the house is awake.
“Man, that would make a whole lot of a difference! But you screwed up again and you are still not 100% efficient and productive. Too bad, but try harder next time.” — Voice in My Head
Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that there are more people out there hearing those kinds of voices in their heads. This is why I feel an urge to talk about it. Because I realised that we don’t have to let those voices rule our approach to work.
What we can do is to let go of the notion of always having to increase productivity. We can recognise that enjoying what we do, while we do it, is way more important than doing it as fast as possible.
Why enjoying your work is more important than productivity
It takes conscious effort to learn how to enjoy your work, regardless of how fast, slow or efficient you are. I am talking mainly — but not exclusively — about freelancers here, because we are the ones most prone to the pressure of getting things done as fast as we can.
We want to get it all done quickly, because we want more time and space to do things other than work. After all, we work to make a living rather than live to make a working. Therefore, we want to complete the required work as fast as possible, to be able to go out and live.
But there is a huge trap hidden in this approach. By mentally dividing our days into working and living time, we deny ourselves the possibility to live while working.
The thing is, work is an intrinsic part of most people’s lives. And it will continue to be, at least until Artificial Intelligence takes over our jobs for real. Therefore, the only reasonable approach is to embrace working time as a valid part of our existence. Because it is precious time when we breathe, smile, think, connect with others, create, and do all those other things that our job requires.
Finding a way to enjoy your work is way more important than increasing productivity. Maybe this enjoyment will not leave you with more free time to do things other than work. What it can do instead, is help you integrate your life and value each moment of it equally — no matter work or leisure.