Being productive is all about action — it’s moving forward and making progress, marking off “to do” items and feeling a sense of accomplishment and achievement. In one sense, being productive is just how much you can churn out.

On the other hand, it is much more than just getting things done — it’s getting the right things done in a meaningful way. As Henry David Thoreau said, “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” The etymology of productive comes from the Latin root meaning “to bring forth.”

How productive are you?

I love that imagery — it makes me think, “what do I want to create today?” When I frame it that way, being productive isn’t just checking off to dos — it is bringing my thoughts and ideas to fruition.

This week’s Challenge: This week, I will slow down just enough to make sure I’m doing the right things. Then, I will tackle them with single-minded focus!

Avoiding being a Workaholic (overuse): It can be easier than we’d like to admit to get addicted to the satisfaction of making progress on work. When you find that you are out of balance and leaning too much into work, it’s time to redefine what “productive” is for you. Broaden your definition of the “right things” to be more than just work — maybe it is also getting exercise. Getting enough sleep. Spending quality time with friends and family. Recharging by doing a hobby you love.

The key is to be aware of whether or not your life is in balance over a period of time. We all can be out of balance one way or another from one day to the next — it’s when there are weeks or months on end when we’re out of balance in the same way that we have a problem.

Commendable Trait: Productive
Underused: Unproductive
Overused: Workaholic
Strength: Diligence
Quadrant: Wisdom