Busyness Versus Natural Flow
These days there seems to always be something that needs to be done. Even during those rare times, when work does run smoothly there’s always more that needs to be done. That to do list is simply too long, and that doesn’t even count the should do tasks.
Moreover, it seems that productivity in one area of our life always (like work) seems to require a sacrifice from another part (like home and family). It’s an attractive trap. Just work a few extra hours to reduce the pressure at work. Inevitably, home life suffers.
The Risk of Burnout
Then, there’s burnout. A human being is not made to be productive 24/7. Yes, we can push and be productive for a period of time but eventually our body and mind do get tired. Eventually even caffeine and sugar won’t provide enough energy to keep up the necessary pace.
Personally, I love being productive. I’m never happier than when I’m wresting with a project that takes over my life. Something that fires my passion so fully and completely that everything else is put on the back burner. During that time, I hardly eat or sleep. Even when I do take a short break, I’m working out a problem or my next move in my mind. During that time, I feel fully alive.
If Fibromyalgia has taught me anything, it is that for every action there’s a consequence. Yes, if I push, I can have these incredible periods of productivity. However, they are not sustainable. It wasn’t even sustainable back to my pre-Fibromyalgia days.
I’ve noticed that at some point, even if I push (drink lots of caffeine and eat lots of sugar), my productivity drops substantially. I start making stupid mistakes and am constantly revising my work. Other problems (at home) take priority. I get distracted. I suddenly come down with the flu or at the very worst a Fibromyalgia bout that takes me out for a while.
If high production isn’t sustainable, then what’s the alternative? I think the answer depends upon the individual. What works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for another.
Finding Middle Ground
Some people find a middle ground. They find that medial flow that floats between getting things done and staying healthy. They know their limits and never take on more than they can handle. They are adept at balancing work and home. Moreover, in the long run, they seem to get just as much done as everyone else but never burn out.
I wish I could say that I was a middle ground person but I’m not. I’m more of a go with the flow type of person. Like riding a roller coaster, I have periods where I’m extremely productive followed by periods where I focus on quieter things. I’ve even noticed seasonal differences with certain types of activities being more prevalent during particular times of the year.
Essentially, knowing myself (and my type of flow) allows me to be more consistent overall. I can compensate for my periods of lesser production. During those down times, I don’t waste valuable energy trying to sustain a high production level (and failing miserably). Instead, I use the time to plan, clarify, edit, and do all those little things that I might otherwise ignore if I tried pushing 24/7. Then, during the next wave of high production, my actions will be focused and on target rather than a scattered mess of frantic energy.