How I Broke My Productivity Addiction, and How You Can Too

Photo Credit: Carl Heyerdahl

I’ve spent the past few years trying to build the perfect productivity system. The last few years have led me to find some way to balance running my full-time business, restarting my youtube channel, freelancing with different genres of photography, menu design projects, and now adding consistent writing into the mix. Needless to say I have a lot on my plate; many of my friends have accused me of biting off more than I can chew, and sometimes I tend to agree with them. I’ve found a system that works for me, but it wasn’t always that case. My relationship with productivity started strong but slowly morphed into a monster that destroyed my confidence, work-life balance, and even a few friendships. Today we take a look at how I broke my addiction to productivity, and hopefully you can find a way to do the same.

After putting together a break down of contributing factors in my previously unhealthy productivity system, I’ve come up with these five truths.

  1. Failing to discern between what is actually productive and what is just busy work.
  2. Failure to accept that my approach to productivity wasn’t working, and honestly became very unhealthy.
  3. The unwillingness to accept that self-improvement and building a healthy productivity system is a marathon, not a sprint.
  4. Tricking myself into believing that if I wasn’t always working on something I was falling behind.
  5. Thinking the unachievable goals I set for myself were attainable, and not pipe dreams I’d created.

All of these pieces came together as a lump sum of neurotic and unhealthy behavior. Eventually I completely burned myself out and fell into a deep depression due to the feeling that I had failed; then one day it hit me, there must be a different approach. I began searching for ways to make my productivity tools work for me, rather than living as a slave to them. I found a few solutions, and ultimately this entire experienced has transformed my life into a stress free existence.

There are three primary ways I’ve transformed my system. The first is using tools like Notion, Todoist, and Apple Calendar to plan out my life. By organizing my day around time blocks for specific tasks I’ve forced myself to evaluate what is actually important, and what is just busy work.

The second change I made was setting hard stops for working hours; I personally set anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours for each task on my calendar, and track my completion using todoist. Setting this block time has trained my brain to know when it’s time to work, and I notice that entering my flow state is almost instantaneous when the alert pops up to start on the task of the hour.

The third addition to my system has been incorporating the pomodoro technique into my working hours, I’ll be writing a separate article about how to utilize this technique, but the general idea is setting time for mini-breaks inside of the working times. I give my brain time to breathe and in these short fifteen minute breaks I actually have quite a few random ideas pop into my head. It’s kind of weird, I won’t lie.

Overall, this experience has given me my life back and I’m now happily working towards accomplishing everything I’ve set out to do. I’ve been granted unbelievable amounts of free time I spend with friends, going to my weekly AHL hockey outing, and losing myself in my life long passion… video games. I hope this story helps you fix your own system, we’ll return to this topic in the future.



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