You Need a Productivity Cheat Day

Ironically, I’m writing this on a plane. Making the most of my time. Trying to be as productive as possible. Filling all the gaps with various to-dos.

Many of us try to do this a lot. We have lots to do. Not enough time.

So we cram. We strategize.

We yearn for productivity as a key to achievement.

Which is great. Until it isn’t.

It’s not so great when we feel bad about not doing enough.

Doing lots is not the goal. Doing the right things and doing them well is the goal.

But being happy and satisfied with our efforts is important too.


If you’re like me, you find it exciting to get things done. To push them over the finish line and then throw your arms up with a sense of satisfaction.

That sense of accomplishment can be addicting.

You might, however, be putting too much pressure on yourself.

You might feel great when things get done, but also frustrated when they don’t get done. Those feelings might even sort of pile up over time… because we never get everything done that we wanted, but we always seem to linger onto the sense that we somehow should…

That is, of course, counter-productive. Because we need to manage our energy and enthusiasm as much as (or more than!) our time.

And that, my friend, is why you need a productivity cheat day.

You need to let yourself off the hook. And feel good about it!

Some of the best diet and exercise programs are built around this very concept.

Discipline is an exhaustible resource. If we keep running ourselves all the way down to empty, sooner or later we’ll just stall out on the highway.

That’s when all of the dirt at the bottom of the tank gets sucked into the engine…

Not good for long-term engine care.

It’s better to take a vacation day from productivity.

But don’t go all Type-A on down time! Don’t try to get that recreation check list going and to drive those items over the finish line.

Leave a day unscheduled and just feel out what to do or not do. Let it happen and be ok with it. Forget about the to-do list.

I’m giving you (and me) permission to take a real break from doing stuff and to feel good about it.

Celebrate unproductivity as much as we celebrate productivity.

Then, get back to work!

Recharged and ready to tackle new things. Without worrying about all the old things that will always be lingering around.