This is the seventh post in a series on productivity1. The articles are based on content from a workshop I led at The Makers Summit.
We have arrived at the practical implications that a solid philosophical foundation in productivity hacking allows for. The last post was called First, Know Thyself—an appropriate sub-head for this post would be Second, Care for Thyself.
Warning, if you’re a regular reader, this is mostly-recycled content from a post I wrote in a now-dormant series2.
Healthy, sustainable productivity
In this post we are going to discuss what I believe is one of the key components of people who maintain a high level of healthy, sustainable productivity. I use the descriptors “healthy” and “sustainable” because you can be extremely productive in any number of ways and not all of them are good for you. People commonly employ substances (sugar, caffeine, narcotics, etc.) or sleep deprivation in order to get more done (or, at least, feel like they’re getting more done). Too much of a substance or too little sleep over time is unhealthy—something we’re all aware of and that I touched on in a previous post in this series3:
Therein lies the problem, though: while these methods produce some sort of real or perceived short-term benefit, if used in excess or exclusively, none are sustainable, especially over the long run. In fact, repeatedly pulling one (or more) of these levers to force more output can be harmful to us. Sleep deprivation can wreak serious havoc (as we’ll discuss in an upcoming post) and no medical professional would recommend drinking 10 pots of coffee (or cans of Red Bull) per day.
The tricky part is that whether the levers you’re pulling are good or bad for you, the productivity gains are real. Unfortunately, it always seems easier and more convenient to make unhealthy choices, which creates a cycle of tangible productivity bursts followed by burnout or near-burnout—a pattern that takes it’s toll and almost guarantees severe burnout over time.
1. You can read the story behind this blog series and find links to all of the resources here.2. You can read the original post about sleep, exercise and diet here.3. Read my first mention of unsustainable habits in the post titled, Productivity is Not Intuitive, here.