Beware of Being Too Productive

If you're too productive, you just may find yourself getting fired...for being too lazy! With Get-It-Done Guy's expert advice, this won't happen to you.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #322

If you must work at the office, get your work done in 20 minutes and spend the rest of the day rushing around with a worried expression, clearly "being productive." Or actually be productive, but in a way that serves you.

Advance your career by building strong relationships with others in the company, learning new skills, and making contacts throughout your industry. That way, when your boss is feeling threatened by how productive you look (not how productive you are) and tries to sabotage your career, you can call on your allies to have your boss banished to the fiery pits of Mordor, while you get a promotion.

Guard Your Slack

You may want to let people know your productivity has given you more time, so they give you more to do. You won’t get paid more, but you can start building your empire. And soon, everything will be under control...your control...

But beware! Your great productivity tools and techniques may help you juggle 20 different projects without dropping them, so you will feel powerful! You will feel great! But be afraid. Be very afraid. Those projects are covered with razor-sharp spikes, and they can land on your feet if you drop them.

It starts with a tiny fluctuation: Project 1 is delayed a day because the Oompa Loompas are on strike. So you have to delay the project 1 launch a week. But that pushes it right into the project 5 requirements-gathering phase. You reschedule requirements to the following week … which is the wrap-up for project 9. One minor Oompa Loompa labor dispute causes a domino effect among 19 unrelated projects. Guess who gets crushed under the final domino? That would be you.

Make sure that even if you choose to use your productivity to take on more work, you leave enough slack in your responsibilities so you can handle the unexpected. Slack time isn’t a luxury; it’s a critical part of successful project management.

Check Your Destination

Once you’re uber-productive, you’ll get where you’re going much faster. That’s a good thing if you're going towards a wondrous land of milk and honey. You’ll get there really fast! Or maybe it’s not so great: have you ever slammed into a vat of milk and honey at 60 miles per hour? It’s not pleasant. It only sounds fun if you don’t think about it too closely.

Ask yourself regularly, “If I’m more productive at what I’m doing, where will I end up?” You might end up tied to a single project for the next five years, because you’re too valuable where you are. Or if your team is slated for extermina–I mean layoff–after you release your project, then the faster it launches, the faster you’re out of a job.

If you’re self-employed, check your destination often. You might get so productive with social media, for example, that you send out a gazillion tweets in just an hour a week. That’s 52 hours per year. And if tweets don’t get you business, it’s 52 hours per year wasted. Efficiently.

Productivity is great, but only when you share the benefit. Make sure others perceive you as productive, not lazy. Keep busy with your free time, either by working from home and turning free time into quality of life, or building stronger relationships at the office. If you take on more work, preserve your slack time. And most of all, make sure that the productivity is taking you somewhere worthwhile.

Be sure to check out WorkLessAndDoMore.com, to see a video clip from my informational, dramatic, inspiring two-person musical about personal productivity, finding your path in life, and zombies.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.