On Productivity

You start your day early in the morning with a fresh cup of tea in hand. The day to come may have a lot of excitement or it may be subdued but you look forward to it. You want to be productive; you want to finish that last bit of work that has spilled over from yesterday. After a plethora of calls, meetings and aggressive keyboard-banging, you are finally packing up for the day. Hours have whizzed past in a breeze leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and also, exhaustion. The question now playing in your mind is what to do with the rest of the day. Is there even a rest of the day left?

You walk up the path to your building thinking that perhaps you earned a little bit of respite, maybe it’s okay to just curl up and let laziness wash over you. But there’s this nagging thought at the back of your mind that keeps asking you to re-evaluate. This tiny voice asks you — ‘In the big scheme of things, with regards to your dreams and desires, what exactly have you accomplished today?’ The answer may be a resounding ‘A lot!’ or it may be a meek ‘Well’. You cannot get this tiny voice out of your head. You want to rationalize it all away. You want to say that a bit of rest is deserved but know it’s going to sound hollow. You enter your home and finally park yourself on the chair and reach for the TV remote. Your hand mid-air, you stop — ah, the tiny voice is back again.

This constant struggle is not alien to me. There are days when I feel like shouting ‘carpe diem’ from the rooftops and days in which I want to just sit in front of the laptop, load up some House MD and let the good times roll. Irrespective of how much I love my job (and I do!), it’s inevitable for me to ask that question of whether I am ‘all that I can be’. If you are anything like me you will relate to this relentless energy that makes you want to read more, do more and basically consume every minute of your life with purpose. Not everyone understands that nor is it necessary for everyone to relate to it. We are all such diverse creatures and have nothing to justify to each other. If relaxing at the end of the day is something that comes easily for you, I’d love to learn a few tricks of that trade.

Having this incessant need to create — to write, to code, to read — can do you good or it can leave you breathless without focus on what you want to achieve in life. It’s important to step back once in a while and reassess your priorities. And for sure, those priorities change over time. Being a technologist, a lot of my time has been consumed by learning the trade craft and applying it at my work. Introspection has made me realize though that while my fascination and love for technology will never diminish; my free time has gravitated more towards the art of writing and reading. The timelessness of the written text appeals to me like none other and to that repository of ideas is where I’d like to leave my mark. Whether I am successful or not is irrelevant. What matters is having a purpose beyond your day to day so that those days can culminate towards realizing your dreams. In other words, have dual goals every day — one for the immediate present and one for the future; even if it means just reading that one article or taking 15 minutes on your commute to read a few pages. Every little effort counts, make your day a non-zero day.

The point of this lengthy tirade was to make you pause and ask yourself what exactly you want from life in the long run. And to evaluate whether the daily sums of your actions can build up to that desire or is there anything lacking. Your productivity is a measure of what you are trying to achieve. If you have worked tirelessly today without furthering your long term goals, it’s time to fix that.