Over the last year or so, as I moved through my second year as a lawyer and got ready to begin my third, I’ve found myself completely obsessed with chasing peak productivity. The pursuit of peak productivity as a junior lawyer, and beyond, really can be a balancing act which we’re not always completely on top of.
What I mean when I talk about ‘peak productivity’ and our tendency to become obsessed with it, is the need to fit as much in a day as possible and almost to strive to never, ever have a second off task. Do you, like me, sometimes wonder what task you can make a dent in when you’re walking from your car to the office or between appointments, so as not to ‘waste’ even a second?
Sometimes, it feels like all we hear in the media, in pop-culture, really everywhere we go is that there is more and more (and more) that we could be doing and that there’s always new ways to ensure we are doing it. After a year or so of chasing that very thing, I’ve had to pause and ponder exactly whether my obsession (one which I think is shared by many) is completely healthy and right for me.
Below I’ve gathered my thoughts on the topic of the tricky pursuit of peak productivity and how we can stay in control of it.
Watch What You Take On
If you’re anything like me, and are always willing to hear how you could be doing things bigger and better, you’re probably served countless pieces of content all about how you could be doing more. It seems like everywhere we look whether it be in our favourite online magazine, the ‘hustle culture’ influencers on our Instagram feeds or the people we work with, you just can’t escape the discussion of ‘more, more, more’.
I’ve found so many amazing and wonderful resources in my travels, and as I gobbled up every piece and take new tips on board every day, I very quickly found myself with an almost Frankenstein-like combination of productivity hacks, tips and tricks integrated into my every day.
I think it’s all about keeping a track of exactly what you’re taking on and making sure you know when enough is enough. The hacks, tips and tricks that we find online each claim to know it all, so why do we feel the we need to take all of them on board, all at once?
Trial and Error
Perhaps the answer to the above is that instead of having the Frankenstein-like combination of hacks, tips and tricks following you around forever, is instead to begin a process of trial and error.
My key point here is don’t take on too much all at once, if you hear of a new and exciting way of fitting more in maybe the trick is to stop and start and have a sort of trial for each. I just don’t want you having too much on all at once, pick and choose which pursuits are worthy of your time.
Knowing When Enough is Enough- Trust Yourself!
It’s a fine art, that I really encourage you to master, of knowing when enough is enough and when you are doing enough. It’s almost a case of knowing that you are enough, isn’t it?
One side effect of this obsession with peak productivity that we seem to have is that when we’re trying to build, build, build, we lose sight of where we started. I think the best antidote to tackling peak productivity and ‘hustle culture’ is to keep stock of just how far you’ve come.
If you’re able to keep sight of the shore and remember where you were when you first started to build your skills, your productivity and your career, you’re able to avoid the almost snowball effect of searching for peak productivity, on top of peak productivity. It’s really easy to lose sight of all the things you’ve already done, so by regularly stopping, taking stock and really analysing just all the wonderful things you are doing, you’re able to measure yourself against a different benchmark.
The last thing I want you to do is feel like you’re starting again each and every time you feel a push to try to do more and more. Instead measure your success right now against where you came from and I guarantee you’ll see all of the wonderful things that you are achieving and that you are. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll come to the decision that, if you knew where you were today, back when you first begun, that would wouldn’t expect yourself to do more.
This one is all about being kind to you and if it takes finding an accountability buddy or even reaching out to me for me to tell you how wonderful you’re doing, then I think that’s a-okay.
Let’s all band together and fight against the unsustainable pursuit of peak productivity on top of peak productivity, ‘hustle culture’. Sometimes, there’s only so much that can be done in a day and I would happily bet that you’re already doing so much good.