The Productivity Paradox

When I was building Spinback as an independent company I would often work 16 hour days. These days were packed with meetings, work, planning, the whole 9 yards. I would come home at 1 am, 2 am, sometimes 3 or 4am. And you might think that after a long productive day the first thing I’d want to do would be to jump into bed and catch some much-needed z’s. Clearly a logical, sound thought. Work hard, go home, sleep. I definitely wanted to go to sleep to recharge and gear up for the next day, but that never turned out to be the case. I found that it was very hard for my mind to turn off and get the rest that I so desperately needed. But even with the lack of sleep, I still somehow had just as much energy the next day as I did the previous day.

In other scenarios and past jobs, I would often work 8 hour days. On many days work for me was slow so naturally I’d have a lot of time on my hands. You might think that having free time would imply that you could use that time to be creative. At the very least, you might think that by the time I got home, I’d have enough energy to start a new project, go to the gym or simply, do something productive. But it turned out that the less I did during the day the more mentally and physically exhausted I was. My brain was like mush. I felt useless.

I couldn’t explain it. It still doesn’t fully make sense to me, but after having this conversation with friends who are running their own businesses or who are really enjoying their work, it’s clear that I am not alone. They all experience this productivity paradox and they too recognize this weird imbalance of productivity and energy.

There is probably a number of reasons why this happens but when I try to make sense out of it I just recall this one quote from and old-time favorite – Shawshank Redemption (clip below):

You either gotta get busy living, or get busy dying.

I’m going to go with the “living” part of that quote. I might not get as much sleep but I think that’s ok. Hope you’ll do the same.