Four Ways To Work Productively Without Struggling or Being Miserable

An Atypical Writer’s Note: I would love to tell you that I discovered these principles in ancient texts or through my award-winning research studies on working effectively. However, the fact is I discovered them by doing the EXACT OPPOSITE OF EACH ONE. I have changed the names and exaggerated the details of each example in this post for the sake of protecting the identity of the person involved.  (But let me just say his first name might rhyme with mason.)    


I have come to believe that working productively involves understanding how to work Consistently, Effectively, Efficiently and Joyfully.

Consistently means not working to the point of exhaustion and then being out of commission for a period of time because of fatigue or sickness, but rather working fewer hours, so that you can work in a steady and productive manner.

For example, Stanley’s boss is focused on productivity and doesn’t care what hours his employees choose to work as long as they get their job done.

Stanley wants to show the boss that he’s exceedingly motivated so he chooses to work 75 hours each week for three weeks straight.

Then at the end of the third week, he falls asleep on the way home. Luckily, he only hits a guard rail, throwing his back out.  This injury puts him out of commission for the two weeks he spends recuperating.

Now Stanley’s total amount of work is 225 hours in five weeks, 75 hours each of the first three weeks and zero hours for each of the next two weeks.  In addition, Stanley was only productive for 50 of the hours during each of the weeks he worked.  During, the other 25 hours he felt exhausted, miserable and strongly disliked his job.

So in grand total, Stanley put in 150 productive hours in a five-week period.  One hundred fifty productive hours, divided by the five weeks equals an average of thirty productive hours of work a week over the five-week period.

So, Stanley could have gotten the same amount of productive work done a week if he had worked just thirty hours a week for the five-week period.  He also could have probably avoided an auto accident, damage to his car, throwing his back out, pain, and recovery time.  If Stanley had worked fewer hours each week, he would have also had ample free time to enjoy his life during those five weeks.

Basically, by working less, but working smarter and more consistently, Stanley could have given himself and his boss a just as productive if not more productive five weeks.  In addition, he could have provided himself with a joyful five-week experience versus five weeks of struggle.

Effectively means you apply your focus to the task at hand.

For example, one of the things Gloria loves about having her own business is the freedom to make her own rules.  A few months ago, she was listening to a mystery book on CD while she did the monthly book-keeping for her business.  Gloria took her time because she was enjoying the audio book and finished her book-keeping in two and a half hours.

Although she is great at accounting, Gloria was so engrossed in her audio book that day a few months ago that she is now finding errors in her calculations, errors which are currently costing her many hours of extra time and a great deal of stress to figure out.

Alternatively a few months ago, Gloria could’ve chosen to totally concentrate on the book-keeping without distractions.  By totally focusing, she could have gotten it done and double checked in an hour and half and avoided all the extra time fixing mistakes, time she could have used to read the mystery books she loves.

Efficiently means that you make use of time-saving technology when it is available.  (The following is an extreme example.  There are many more subtle examples in our work environments.)

For example, Tim’s boss asks him to copy fifty pages of text and doesn’t care how this job is done just as long as it’s accurate.  Tim has the choice between doing this job in ten minutes with a copy machine, or spending a whole day copying the pages long hand.

Whichever way Tim chooses, he will do a great job meeting his boss’s specifications.

However, copying by hand takes seven hours and fifty minutes longer than using a copy machine and would be exhausting, tedious and most likely full of struggle.  Plus, Tim would have missed 7 hours and fifty minutes of opportunities to do other work.

Joyfully means striving to be happy as you work.  This is a gift to yourself, as well as those around you.

Susan just doesn’t like end of the month inventory.  Her co-workers know the end of the month is coming because Susan is cranky, angry, and critical for the whole week before inventory.  And on the day of inventory, watch out!   Stay out of Susan’s way!  If one of Susan’s co-workers forgets and makes even the smallest joke within the range of her hearing, the outcome isn’t appealing.

Alternatively, Susan could focus on smiling and laughing on inventory day, as well as the week leading up to it, even though she knows that in the past these times have been tedious and stressful for her.  Then as Susan’s co-workers see her smiling and laughing, they are more likely to smile and laugh, which would empower them all to work as a team to lighten this task.  This jovial atmosphere would probably eventually result in inventory day being less tedious and stressful for Susan.

Game of the Day

What ideas in this blog could you use to make your workday more productive and enjoyable?

How can you begin to use the ideas that you like today?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to


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