What to do when productivity starts to become counterproductive

Vartika Kashyap
4 min readMar 8, 2017

There are no set metrics to measure productivity. But, one thing is for sure — measuring a person’s productivity by the number of hours he/she spends at work is wrong. We live in a world where the whole premise of productivity is set wrong. We believe that more the number of hours spent at work more is the person’s productivity. Whereas, reality is exactly the opposite.

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Let us take a look at the definition of productivity to help you explain this better. As per Oxford Dictionary productivity is the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

The key words here are — rate of output per unit of input. So as per this definition if you are spending more number of hours doing the same amount of work, then you are actually less productive than others.

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Internet is flooded with such stuff. People have become productivity experts by advising others on time management. But no one has ever been able to find the root cause of why we are become more and more unproductive.

May be we are at a stage where being productive has started to become counterproductive.

Stuck playing ‘The More Game’

When we entered Industrial Age more production was the sole measure of productivity. But, there were set parameters and guidelines for that production. The problem is that we are still stuck playing the more game. Whereas we are no longer in that era.

The core focus of management is to get people to produce more. And it’s turning out to be the biggest roadblock in their progress. A recent study from Mellon University shows that ‘the one factor that’s slowing advancement down in today’s time is our ability to focus and think. Why? Because our mind is too occupied in the more game.’

Our brain is under the avalanche of one task after another and then another. Amidst all this we don’t get time to think and focus. That’s why we are becoming productively dumb. After all, human brains are not machines.

Being productive or being busy?

As per cited in one of the articles published in Harvard Business Review — ‘It’s very easy to succumb to the temptation of staying busy even when it is counterproductive: It is the way our brains are wired.’

The irony is that most of the professionals today jump straight away to their tasks, without planning. They work to justify that we are putting more number of hours in the office, by choice. Does that mean they are productive? Well, no.

It’s like being a goalie who jumps to stop the ball without paying heed to the actions of the opponent. The result is his chances of stopping the goal already become less. Whereas if he could focus for a fraction of second to see the opponent’s action, he could increase the chances manifold time.

So rather than being busy, try to focus more on being productive. And, doing things which add to the progress of the team and business in the longer run. Putting more number of hours at work will not mean growth. Growth will come only when you will think, use your analytical mind and come up with ways to improvize the processes.

Stop doing, start experiencing

The counter productivity disease is spreading like an epidemic. In the constant struggle to do more in the set number of hours that we have, we are killing our analytical thinking. This can lead to more production, but less innovation.

So, how to overcome this struggle? The answer would be to stop focusing on doing, but emphasize more on experiencing. It’s human psychology — when we focus on getting ten tasks completed in 8 hours we will do them only for the heck of it. Whereas if we focus more on the experience of doing those tasks, it will help us evolve. It will give us time to think on how to improve those processes.

It will give us the motivation to come up with something innovative. And that’s the real meaning of progress. Isn’t it?

“Become focused on getting things done. Stop using email to manage work and switch to ProofHub.”


Vartika Kashyap is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016. She currently runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.


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Originally published at LinkedIn



Vartika Kashyap

Chief Marketing Officer@ProofHub. Featured writer on LinkedIn. Contributor at Elearning Industry, Dzone, Your Story and Business.com.