The Time Trap of Productivity


» moretothat.com — originally shared here on

Anytime you try to control or reverse disorder, you introduce tension. This is true on a sociological level, where any attempt to organize people inevitably leads to rebellion. But more relevantly, it’s also true at the individual level, and is particularly poignant in our desire to control time.

This same thought (trying to control disorder) has been going through my head a lot lately, but I’ve only ever applied it to political discourse or workplace drama. I’ve never once thought to apply it to time.

Burnout is often associated with working too much, but the real reason it happens is because you have defined yourself by what you produce. It’s not just the exertion of energy spent during your working hours, but the exertion of thought spent during the time you’re not working. It lives in the moment where you’re physically with your family, but mentally planning out what you need to do next. Or when you keep looking at the time when you should just be enjoying lunch.

Again, as a recovering entrepreneur, I’m only now becoming aware of how awful my compulsive need to check in on my team had become.

I’m striving in 2023 to better utilize time as an ally, and to build back the healthy habits that I’ve surrendered in the name of maximum productivity and profitability. Those habits include things I actually used to do (5K run or 2.5mi walk every morning, journaling) and things I keep telling myself I want to do (yoga, biking, playing with my kids, dating my wife).