How to Get Rid of the Pressure to Be Productive
If you’re anything like me, you often feel the pressure to produce even more in even less time as a creator.
A book idea is waiting to be realized, a new article needs to be written, and the new blog is still not up and running. Surely you don’t just have three creative projects you want to push at the same time, but many more. At least that’s how it is for me.
When I sat down at my computer in the morning, I used to feel overwhelmed when I thought of all the tasks that would come my way during the day. 2000 words for my novel manuscript, 1000 words for an article, another 1000 words for a short story, plus administrative work, marketing, and continuing education.
Who wouldn’t feel pressure there?
Now the thing is, I don’t have a boss. I’m my own boss, so there’s no one to put pressure on me but myself. Even if you have a full-time job, you’re always your own boss when it comes to your creative side projects. Do you want to write a romance novel after work? You’re the boss. Is your goal to write two books at once? You’re the boss.
Many people think it’s easy not to have a boss. Having no one breathing down your neck must be wonderful. Well, it really is on the one hand. On the other hand, you’ll quickly discover that no one can stress you out and make you feel bad more effectively than yourself.
Get rid of the pressure
At the beginning of every personal progress, there is a decision.
The first thing you have to do to get rid of the pressure you put on yourself is to decide against it.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. If it were that simple, this article could end here. Deciding to stop putting pressure on yourself is only the first necessary step. But that alone is not enough. If you choose to run a marathon, you haven’t completed it yet. Without the first step, you will never put this decision into practice.
So what’s the next step after deciding to renounce the pressure of productivity?
If you’re feeling stress because you’re taking on too many projects, chances are you belong to a specific personality group. The people I’m talking about and to whom I belong are incapable of focusing on one thing for long periods. More specifically, we can’t work on the same thing for more than an hour or two at a time without boredom.
We can still write dozens of books, build successful YouTube channels, or write thousands of articles over the years. In fact, we can do everything side by side if we act according to our nature.
Most of the time, however, we go about it the wrong way. We try to manage our diverse interests in ways that don’t suit us. People who can focus well are the ideal image to which we orient ourselves. So when we can’t manage to work on a task for three hours, we feel inferior or incapable. This leads to stress and frustration.
Yet, there is a way to use our unfocused personality to our advantage. When we do, we suddenly experience the pressure we’ve felt for so long vanishing into thin air and being replaced by enthusiasm.
Work the way no one would tell you to work
I discovered some time ago how I get much better at managing all my creative projects. Previously, I divided my day into blocks of time, as is often recommended. If I wanted to write 2000 words for my novel, I calculated how long it would take me to do it and set aside that time in a chunk for that task.
Following this pattern, I spread my projects out over the day and hoped that my plan would work out.
Unfortunately, this was very exhausting for me. After twenty minutes at the latest, the words no longer flowed so quickly, and only a little later, I had to get up and go out for a smoke on the terrace.
The longer I sat on the same text, the greater my unwillingness to continue working on it. But I had made this schedule. Every productivity guru out there was hammering into my head that this was the best way to structure your workday. Nothing was more detrimental to productivity than constantly jumping back and forth between different activities.
For many years, I believed that this was true for everyone. Until the day I allowed myself to work the way I felt was right for me from now on.
For some time now, I have been working on several texts in parallel every day. As soon as I get bored working on my manuscript, I switch genres and write a new erotic short story. When that becomes too exhausting, I write an article. Then I switch back to my novel or short story, and so on.
When I get bored with all three projects, I start something completely new. That happens from time to time, and I accept that instead of resisting it. Because I take it, however, it happens very rarely. Most of the time, I jump effortlessly back and forth between my three main projects, feeling previously unknown ease.
My goals haven’t changed. I still want to finish this book by a fixed date, publish an article every day and a short story once a week. The only thing I’ve changed is my approach. That’s the only thing that’s suddenly taken the pressure off.
Often we feel pressure to be productive, not because we’ve taken on too much but because we force ourselves to work in a way that doesn’t suit us.
Focusing and time blocking is definitely the right way for many people to be productive. But for me, and I’m sure many others, that’s precisely the wrong way to go.
What is often condemned today as multitasking enables people like us to be very productive in a joyful and relaxed way.
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