Is Being Productive Always a Virtue?

Sometimes I just like to surf around and see what is going in different place. I check sitepoint to see what people are talking about, sometimes just as a lurker. I go over the Digg and see if there is something interesting. I mind want to exercise my mind with a game of Yahoo chess. Maybe I’ll check out Fail Blog for a laugh.

But there are some days that I feel like being productive (writing articles, assigning work, doing work, etc.) is not the right thing for me that day. At least not initially.

  1. On Digg, I might find something interesting that will apply to my business in some way, whether it be the way Digg is programmed, or a story that helps me see something different.
  2. Playing Chess, it may change a little how my mind sees possibilities
  3. Fail Blog may help me bring humor to my writing or my approach.
  4. Sitepoint might show a new technology I have been wanting to try

But must I start the day with the idea that I NEED TO BE PRODUCTIVE. For me, the answer is sometimes “NO!”. Other times there is always the “list”, but I have found that giving yourself permission to think less, and not try hard can be very effective.

And of course, there are all kinds of things that don’t involve a computer. :slight_smile:

I often feel the same way as you … some days I’ll work on client jobs for hours on end, other days I just don’t feel up to it…but I’m always doing something that relates to my work. My boyfriend says I’m “always working!” because I always seem to be at my laptop, and even though it’s not always “direct work” ie client jobs, I’m reading blogs, visiting forums, or reading books/ebooks about my work.

I do find it can be a problem though, when I really should spend the time getting work done ahead of schedule and things like that. And it’s a bad habit to get into, just “going with the flow”, because when one gets into a 9-5 job working for someone else, you can’t just work “when you feel like it.”

I think the key is to find a balance to avoid having too many of those “unproductive” or “pseudo-productive” days.

Ha, you still use Digg? I thought everyone moved to Reddit after the latest version disaster?

On the subject of Reddit, when I’m working I typically have a bunch of websites open, like SitePoint, StackOverflow, Reddit, BBC News/Football, Twitter and a few others. I can’t explain it, but by keeping up to date with what’s happening on these websites it makes me less likely to slack off when I need to get work done. Also, if I’m struggling with a bit of code, clearing my mind by commenting or posting stuff on Reddit or making a post or two on here allows me to come back to the problem and take a fresher perspective.

But there are some days that I feel like being productive (writing articles, assigning work, doing work, etc.) is not the right thing for me that day.

It depends on what you mean by being productive. A lot of people think that means efficiency.

You can be efficient but not very effective. Productivity implies effective efficiency. And that can mean taking a step back from the task at hand and actually seeing what’s going on.

In other words, you can paint a house in half the time – that’s efficiency. That you have your ladder propped against the right house – that’s effectiveness.

And way too many are trying to get more efficient are doing things they shouldn’t have done in the first place. So, if by looking around you see somebody who has a better way, you can be productive.

Productivity is certainly a virtue if you work for yourself.

Sometime it is not, if you work for others (some people inside that company may see you a threat if you are too productive).

“Is being productive always a virtue?”

A virtue is “the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong” or “a particular moral excellence”. Generally I would say being productive is not a virtue at all. It’s connected to virtues especially when you are contracted to doing work for someone else. Your client may expect you to be as productive as possible, even to the point where your comfort and health are at risk. Your client may prefer quality over the speed of production. Some clients will expect speed and quality as part of productivity. It’s all subjective and variable.

Some could argue being a human-being of virtue would create the by-product of being “productive” due to certain virtues working together.

You need to set your own bar for what is being productive. Same with being successful. However if you have clients involved you need to communicate what the level for being productive is. This is normally done by saying how many days you’ll work at day and how many hours a day you will dedicate to their project.

What’s productive though?

Working 40 hours a week? is that productive? or is achieving results being productive? You need to set goals to be productive don’t you? I think you need a measurement of what productive is. Man-hours is generally the old school way of looking at productivity but that is no longer the case thanks to “technology” and knowledge.

Being productive isn’t all that subjective, and it’s certainly a good thing (without getting into the definition of a ‘virtue’).

If taking breaks and being less focused at some points in the day makes you more productive overall, that is good. If taking a day off from time to time makes you more productive overall that is a good thing.

Being productive is good, and things that help productivity like rest, recreation, etc. are thus good things, too.

It is virtuous to provide for one’s family so others are not needing to do so. It is doing your best within the framework of the agreement to build a website for another. It may even impart doing a bit more than was agreed simply because you know that you are helping someone out by doing so.

Virtue is one thing that can be applied to many. One of the things I love most about my work is the satisfaction that I receive when I finish a site and the owner loves it. I particularly love this when the owner simply did not know what they wanted and we came through for them.

I need time off away from website work like anyone other person. I need time totally away from my work, but at times I simply need time away to think creatively about my work. While too much leisure isn’t good for anyone, some of it can recharge our batteries. My family is more important to me than building websites, but the income I receive helps provide for my family. The ability to balance family, work, etc. can be difficult. Doing it can be rewarding. I have learned to move from being a night-owl to being an early bird. I typically wake up at 5:00AM and begin my day. I used to use up my evening time on work and my family suffered for it. Now, in waking up early, I get up when they are not, I am more rested, and I am more productive. I can get twice as much done in the morning as I could when I was staying up far later than I should.

All in all … I love providing for my family doing work that I love for people who love my work!