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It is not enough to be busy…. the question is: What are we busy about?”

 –Henry David Thoreau

Over the last several days, the word (and concept) of “being productive” has come up in multiple conversations. When I hear something, sometimes in a manner different from my familiar, an internal antenna begins to quiver.  I pay attention.  “It’s” getting my attention for a reason.  And so, Lin being Lin, I’ve given a good deal of thought to this self- and other-admonition of “being productive.”

Huh.  What I’ve discerned is this:  who’s definition and evaluation of ‘being productive’ is being used?  The old assembly-line measurement?  Or ‘piece-work’ which will establish what one is to be paid at the end of a day based on some bottom-line, shareholders’ profits desired?  (Ah lassie, there’s TwoHundred Forty widgets at a ha’penny apiece. Here’s your 10 shillings for the fine day’s work. Ha!)  

Setting ‘value’ of a person’s worth by what they “do”, how often, and how much?!  

  • One bag, two bags, three bags full? 
  • The quantity of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • OMGosh, and what about Sally, and the endless seashells selling?!!  

(‘Silly’ nursery rhymes – yet… the socialization that takes place … at a very young age.)

What constitutes ‘enough’ – and who be constitutin’ it?

Are you being productive….enough?    “I’ve had a productive day.”    “He missed his quota.”  “She’s not staying up to speed.”  Whether it’s us judging ourselves, and/or others, there seems to be this often-unspoken benchmark of what is ‘enough.’ (And in some professions, that benchmark is clearly posted and adhered to!!)

This past week, Business Insider posted: “Inside the ‘messy’ end of a Facebook contractor’s job, break time was tracked intensely, perks evaporated, and workers were put on performance plans for showing up late. A hiring slowdown at Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about operating with fewer resources has sparked fears of job cuts among employees.”   (Hmmm …Seems even 62.7 billion dollars t’ain’t enough for some … gotta keep them dogies rollin’, Rawhide!) 

Well, what is enough?How am I going to value myself and my contribution? That’s the real bottom line.

Following these ah-ha’s about ‘being productive’ and ‘productivity’ ~ mine and my judgment of others, I am going to ‘work’ on changing my own language about myself. (Lovely how that ‘leaks over’ into valuing others as well.

I’m making a new commitment to grin and celebrate a feeling of accomplishment. Using “a sense of satisfaction’ as a measuring tool. I can be satisfied that the commode is clean. I choose satisfaction to recognize my contribution to what-I-hired-on-to-do. I feel great accomplishment when I meet a client’s request. No more ‘musts, shoulds, have to’s’. Simply an internal measure of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

So how about a modified batch of nursery rhymes?

  • Woohoo!  Look at what the sheep and I did! (hahahahahaha – ok, let’s reframe that quick mental-visual) Ahem, “Look at these three bags full of great wool.”
  • Peter piped up: “Pickled peppers. I can just imagine how Farmer Dell’s going to love getting these pickled peppers I picked!  Yessss.”
  • And, OMGosh, Sally danced with joy because folks really liked the seashells she was selling.

How cool!  

No more bemoaning what-didn’t-get-done. No more anxiousness and fear-based performance.  (Fact:  if it’s important to me, I’ll get’er’done … to the best of my ability.) Therefore, the plan is I am going to follow more of friend Pat McD’s suggestion a while back of having a ‘Ta-Dah’ rather than a ‘To-Do’ List. At the end of the day, make a mental or written list of what the day entailed, clap your hands, wiggle your butt and say Ta-Dah!!! (PS ~ I added the hand-clapping and butt-wiggling. Those were not Pat’s imperatives. ha!)  

Satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Got it.  Groovy!