Don’t Commit the Sin of Overproductivity

Is it possible to be too productive?

The short answer is “Yes.” The consequences of overproductivity can be as serious in white collar work as it is in lean manufacturing.

If that surprises you, consider what it means to exceed expectations and not just by doing more than what is expected, but overproducing to such an extent that you sometimes run out of work and feel guilty if you stop to take a breath.

Laura Stack, a productivity professionals, calls overproductivity a “deadly sin.”

Why would someone who’s written more books on productivity than practically anyone and who regularly speaks at conferences about improving productivity warn about being too productive? Because overproductivity on a sustained basis leads to a poor or non-existent work/life balance, it takes a toll on your body to always be running, managers ding you should you ever perform at “normal” speed and burnout forever looms.

“Too much work,” writes Stack, “Can damage your health in many ways, from cardiovascular disability to too little sleep, a poor diet, dehydration, and more .”

If that isn’t enough, your co-workers will come to resent you, since they’ll be pushed by the boss to perform at your pace. When you need their help on some task how likely do you suppose they’ll be to come to your aid?

“Like a nova that briefly outshines, if you overproduce too long, you may burn out, whereupon you’re useless, not just to yourself but to everyone. And in the modern business environment, an underperforming asset, even a human one, is unlikely to last long,” says Stack.

The point of this post isn’t to dissuade anyone from working hard and being productive. Instead, learn to pace yourself so you can perform well, sustain quality and be as productive next week, next month and next year as you are today.

Image by mohamed Hassan

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