Nowadays, the world only seems to be interested in one thing: how much work we can fit into a certain amount of time. “Productivity” is the new ‘it-word.’ There are books about it that teach thousands of people how to be more productive, but is there actually anything in it for us, and does being productive help make us happier people?
Being more productive makes you happy. It can help you achieve goals you’ve set and challenge yourself to try new things, all of which lead to you being happy. This is a result of the dopamine that is released by your brain as a reward mechanism. However, this process is far more complicated.
In this article, we will be discussing whether or not being more productive makes us happier, how it can affect our mood and general state of being, and whether there is such a thing as too much productivity. Now, let’s get started!
Does Productivity Affect Our Happiness?
There’s nothing like that feeling of dread you get when you have a task due that you haven’t finished yet. However, nothing feels as good as finally checking it off your to-do list. When there’s a task that we’ve been putting off for a long time, getting started on it may feel incredibly daunting, but once we do, we start to enjoy it and can actually feel good.
There has been a lot of research done on whether happy people are more productive. A study done by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom concluded that happy people are up to 12% more productive than unhappy people. Meanwhile, there has been less research done on whether being productive can make people happy.
However, it seems that this concept can actually go both ways: happy people are more productive, and being productive makes people happier.
The concept of happiness may differ from person to person, but one crucial part of our happiness is determined by our interactions with our environments on a daily basis. This means that most of your happiness comes from your daily life actions, which is very easy to control.
There are a number of ways in which productivity affects our happiness, which we will go over in the next section.
How Does Being Productive Make You Happier?
As we’ve mentioned before, being more productive can make us feel happier, but what we want to know is ‘how?’
Being productive gives you purpose. Whether this is fulfilling your work obligations or trying out something you’ve always wanted to do, having a purpose makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and get on with your day. This sense of purpose comes from wanting to be productive and accomplish the goals you have set for yourself.
If you’re being productive, it also helps you grow as a person. Productivity makes you challenge yourself in all aspects of your life, which means that you’ll be developing old skills and learning new skills along the way. These will allow you to have a more versatile approach to the tasks and correspondences you encounter in the future.
Doing productive things will have you on a path that’s always moving forward and making you grow.
Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz around the concept of ‘deep work’ or being in a ‘flow state,’ which basically boils down to being in a mental state when you are performing a task where you feel entirely focused on the task at hand and can perform the task without being distracted. It also states that you enjoy the process of completing the task while you are doing so.
Productivity and deep work are somewhat similar in the sense that both involve completing tasks that add value to one’s life while bringing on a tremendous sense of achievement and contentment during and after their completion.
At the center of it, productivity creates happiness by triggering certain biological responses from our brains. Accomplishing a task and checking it off of your to-do list prompts our brain to release a certain amount of dopamine into our nervous systems.
Dopamine is colloquially known as the “happiness and reward” hormone and is released when we experience something pleasurable or accomplish something.
In short, the results created by being productive set off a chemical reaction in our bodies that creates a feeling of happiness and satisfaction. However, being more productive is not always going to lead to being happier. It can have quite the opposite effect if it is not balanced out with the other aspects of our lives, but we will discuss this more in the next section.
Can You Be ‘Too Productive’?
While being productive and checking things off of your to-do list can make you feel great, but as the old saying goes, “too much of a good thing can be bad.”
Anything that is otherwise enjoyable done in excess can be unhelpful or even harmful. Just the same as being productive can make you happy, trying to be productive all the time will make you unhappy. There is a fine line between just enough and too much.
Jamming your days, weeks, and months full of ‘things to do’ will eventually lead you to become tired of doing things and may even leave you feeling burnt out.
When you do or experience something for the first time (e.g., finishing a task), it makes you feel fantastic, but, over time, as the experience is repeated, you get used to doing it. The pleasure you get from said experience decreases.
The same can be said for how much productivity you can (or should) fit into your day. People who are newer to being productive often cram too much into 24 hours and then feel dissatisfied when they do not accomplish all of their to-dos. This is why the so-called productivity masters often suggest writing down three things that you’d like to accomplish in a day, which will make you feel most satisfied afterward.
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. Being busy means that you have many things on your plate (that often don’t amount to any value), which you are trying to finish as fast as possible so that you can move on to the next thing on your list. This often results in highly-stressed individuals who always feel like they are falling behind.
On the other hand, productivity is still having a lot of things to do, but knowing which ones are more urgent and which ones need to be done by that person, and which of those tasks can be outsourced to other people.
It’s also about knowing how to prioritize the tasks that will make the individual feel most accomplished and when it’s time to take a step back to rest and come back to it again later.
You need to find a balance between productivity and rest that works for you and your lifestyle because ensuring that you get proper rest and quality time away from work is just as important as ticking off the things on your to-do list.
Being productive is all the rage these days, and with good reason. It makes us feel accomplished and content as a result of the things we have done. However, being productive shouldn’t be the number one priority. It needs to be part of an intricate balance created with the other aspects of your life; otherwise, it might be more detrimental than helpful.
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