Last night at my birthday party, a friend told me how his company insists he show up at work before 9 to make sure everyone’s productive. It seems we’re always trying to increase productivity. But this isn’t sustainable.

You see, productivity has its limits. Period. A woman can’t have a baby in six months by trying really hard. The process takes nine months. You can’t add a woman, hoping that two women working together can make one baby in four and a half months. The process takes one woman nine months.

Every task takes a certain amount of time to complete. If you’re manufacturing round metal paperweights, the metal has to be melted and then cooled. Those physical processes can only happen so fast without the metal breaking. We might be able to speed them up a little here and there, but at the end of the day, no amount of investment can speed the process beyond a certain point.

So it makes me wonder how we know when we’re as productive in an area as it’s possible to be? I have timed myself over and over, and I write about 400 words of finished draft per hour. My mood doesn’t affect it much, my typing speed isn’t the limit. That just seems to be how long it takes me to write a finished draft. Do I try to improve it, thus improving my productivity, or am I going as fast as possible already (since writing happens subconsciously), and I just relax and go with the flow?

It’s a question worth asking businesses, who often pour resources into misguided attempts at improvement, where the status quo is just fine on its own.

It’s also worth asking yourself. Some people look for their weaknesses and try to improve them. But your weaknesses may be just fine as they are. Maybe your time is best spent enjoying life, instead!

Productivity has limits!

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