What I learned from trying to be too productive 

True productivity comes from internal drive, not "hacks"

Silver Macbook on White Table

If we want to be more productive, perhaps we should focus less on productivity. Truth is, you can’t “hack” productivity, it doesn’t work that way. The true secret to increasing output is to focus our attention on the task itself.

This is what I’ve found after spending years trying to be as productive as humanly possible. The tips you see online can be helpful, but they’re more of a crutch. They are external assistants, whereas true productivity comes from the internal.

I started out my career working at a production house. We produced music videos for popular artists. I have always wanted to work with composers in theater production, but there was no money in that. I was driven away from what I enjoyed more because it wasn’t as popular.

I started because I wanted to become successful. There weren't very many people with the same job as me raking in the big bucks, and I wanted to be wealthy. To do this, I thought I would be a workaholic. I would wake up, walk to work, I work all day, I go home, and I do freelance work until I go to bed. In total, I would be glued to my monitor for 16-18 hours a day.

In the beginning I saw some benefits. I was proud of myself for making so much money. I would often compare this to my recent-graduated friends who struggled to find jobs, working part time at the local retail store. While working, I lost my motivation. It wasn’t much fun trying to squeeze out a few more hours of work from the beginning of my day.   

After a few weeks I wasn’t making as much money, because things had slowed down. I kept going to uphold my reputation in front of the boss. By then, I was usually too exhausted to a useful employee. My job performance was suffering, so my boss started asking me to come in on the weekend.   

At some point, I got fed up with answering why I hadn’t done a job right, or why I hadn’t completed it yet. I realized I wasn't learning as much as when I was working on my own. I finally switched to less demanding, more work/life equilibrium jobs.   

The more I learned about myself, the more I realized that pushing myself to work more hardly helped me in any way. I realized that working weird back-breaking hours could sometimes be useful, but he most benefit I ever got out of becoming a workaholic was when I was forced to quit. My work life improved after I figured out what I love to work on. Not everything was rosy, these jobs never really paid as well as the media job did. I still had to work a lot, but through hard work I achieved better outcomes, and no longer burned out all the time.

Each of us has to find out what works best for us individually. The correct answer will be different for each person. Freedom, balance, whatever you call it, our society is so focused on money that we often trade our time and freedom for it.   Often, we aren't even aware that we're doing it. Knowing yourself will give you the key to your happiness, and reduce the need to try and be excessively productive.

Because knowing yourself will give you the key to your happiness, and reduce the need to try and be excessively productive

I'm creating a life based on the idea that everything important will happen outside of my purview.   

I want to live the simple life.  Another bit of marketing caught my eye, this time it was a good copy instead of a bad one. What caught my attention is that I actually read it. What I got out of it is we can't take things too seriously. Our biggest headaches come from taking everything to heart. There was some advocacy about being free from popular culture, but I don't necessarily care for that message. I prefer to not take outsider criticism to heart. I want to soak in the music that I love in spite of what they're saying on MTV or to hell with whatever the paleo diet faddists are screaming about. I preferred to be in the season of my life where I could live the simple life.