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What is Your Reason to be Productive

By June 26, 2022May 30th, 202413 Comments

The most common reason to be productive is to make money so we can fund our way of life. But are there other reasons for being productive? Or rather, are there other reasons for being continually doing something? My friend and colleague, Julie Bestry, has been writing recently about Toxic Productivity. These blog posts have fascinated me. Julie always, in every article or blog post, provides lots of interesting background information and research. Are you wondering why I am writing about this? Well, I started thinking about my own reason to be productive.

I asked myself some questions. Am I a workaholic? Do I work too much? Does my quest to be productive come before anything else and to the point where I exclude things that are not productive? Am I being productive or am I just staying busy so that I have things to do? How does being organized help with productivity?

As I work through the answers to these questions.  I encourage you, as you read along, to think about your answers.

Being busy versus being productive

There is a distinct difference between being busy and being productive. I can be busy all day long and accomplish little or nothing on my to-do list. When I am busy, I float from one task to the next and am usually avoiding a certain task. Having said that, being mindlessly busy allows my brain to mull over the problem I have encountered with the task I am avoiding. Typically, I resolve the problem and can then get started on the thing I didn’t want to do.

I bet you can come up with all sorts of little things to do around your home to make it look like you are doing something when you are just avoiding something else.

Don’t get me wrong. Doing those little tasks is being productive. Although, you may be doing anything but that which is on your list of things to do.

There are some days when I don’t feel like doing anything productive. I find it best on those days to admit that it’s not a good workday and to put my energy into self-care.

You can argue that taking time for self-care is another way to be productive because when you indulge in self-care you are better able to care for others.


As I pondered the first question, am I a workaholic, I realized that I spend an awful lot of time working. But I don’t think I am a workaholic. Something Julie wrote in response to another friend and colleague, Linda Samuels, was that weekends are not for work.

What a novel thought!

My weekends are often filled with work. Why? Well, frankly, many of my clients work during the week. So, if I am going to work for people who work Monday through Friday I must do so when they are not working.

Having said that, I agree that there must be days when I don’t work.

That brings me back to boundaries.

I thought about how I can give myself non-working time. When you work for yourself, and you work from your home it’s easy to find work things to do unless you create boundaries and honor them.

I made a promise to myself that I will only schedule clients on one Sunday and two Saturdays a month. The other weekend days will be days to rest, relax, and have fun.

Then I promised myself two half-days at my desk. One day is for the business of running my business and the other is for the more creative work I do.

The last boundary I created involves my work hours. I am a morning person. My best work is done early in the morning. So, I decided to end my office hours in the late afternoon/early evening.

I admit,  I sometimes stretch these boundaries when the reason is compelling enough.

Household Chores

Maintaining a clean and tidy home is another reason to be productive for me. I love seeing the clean surfaces and having my home smell fresh – and not like my adorable dog, Josie!

I have a regular schedule for doing household chores so that I do not spend a lot of time cleaning. And because I only do a little bit at a time it never becomes overwhelming.

Organizing and productivity

The final question was: does being organized help with productivity? The answer is a resounding YES!

Being organized helps you be productive in every way.

When your physical space is organized you can more easily organize your thoughts and your workflow.

My best reason to be productive

As I pondered these questions the thought came to me that I truly love being productive. Simply put, it makes me happy.

Just like seeing those clean and clear surfaces in my home makes me happy, it makes me happy to think through the day that has been and acknowledge the many ways in which I was productive.

This is one of the reasons the clutter support group I run with Jonda Beattie is so popular. At the beginning of each session Jonda asks each participant to enumerate their wins. Voicing the ways in which they have made progress towards their stated goal makes each person proud of their accomplishment.

I have concluded I am not just staying busy to have things to do, I am purposefully productive. Additionally, I am not a workaholic because I take time for self-care and to do things other than work.

Do you have questions like these floating around in your head? Are you looking for ways to be more productive with your time, so you also have time for fun? Consider joining the Clear Space for You clutter support group I run with Jonda Beattie.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.


  • Julie+Bestry says:

    I’m so honored and delighted that my post resonated and inspired you to write this excellent piece (and it’s great because Linda’s post inspired my series)! Taking your points in turn, I think we’re often busy instead of productive because we lack prioritization…and that brings us back to organization. Too often, we talk about organizing in terms of tangible things, or maybe even time management, but at the heart of everything is really organizing our thoughts. Determining what we do requires figuring out (as you note) why we do it, but then assigning relative values along the importance/urgency axes.

    Those boundaries we set? They reflect our values and priorities. The effort we put into our spaces? The same thing. Self-care? You know it!

    You’ve identified that all the ways in which you are productive are for your own reasons and you do it on your own terms — you want to accommodate your clients *but only to the point it doesn’t adversely impinge on your life* whereas someone else could value their weekends more than their clients (who are unable, or perhaps just unwilling, to give up their work hours to organizing they way they would to meet with the cable guy); it’s all about your priorities. And you are a superior role model in that regard! Stellar post!

  • Diane,
    I am also a morning person and feel most productive in the early hours, so like you. I try to stop work in the early afternoon for “self-care!”

  • Sara Skillen says:

    This is fantastic food for thought. I tend to work a little more than I should (well, ok, sometimes a lot more) because I simply enjoy what I do. That said, we all have to take some down time to renew ourselves – it can be hard when others come to expect you to be “on call,” but that’s where your thoughts on boundaries come in. Letting other people dictate the boundaries is a recipe for burnout, at least for me. Thanks for the wisdom…and now I’m off to check out Julie’s posts too!

  • Seana+Turner says:

    It’s always good to think about this. I love being productive. I think it is just my personality. At the same time, I do usually ‘shut off’ around 5pm, and then I let myself relax. I couldn’t have done that when I had kids in the house, but I can do it now. I count on being able to be off duty. I also take Sundays off of work, and even try to minimize household chores on Sundays. That’s my day to sit on the beach or paint or whatever, without guilt.

  • You expressed your viewpoint and process so eloquently. Thank you.

    Boundaries are so crucial in my line of work. The majority of my work is done online and with clients remotely. I purposefully make my work hours only from Monday through Thursday from 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM, and on Fridays, I only work till noon. To keep my work and home life boundaries, I make it a point not to go into my office on Saturday and Sunday on most weeks. So much so that I do laundry during the week since it is near my office.

  • Love your comment on boundaries! I try hard to put boundaries in place but sometimes I violate my own boundaries. It is something to watch out for.

  • I love how Julie’s Productivity series encouraged you to tease out your thoughts about work, productivity, self-care, and organizing. I also appreciate the way you addressed each piece, which led to the next ah-ha. When Julie commented to me about the weekends NOT being for work, she did so half-jokingly. The last several weekends I’ve focused on playing and celebrating more and working less. And it’s been wonderful! But with all things, it’s a matter of finding the balance that feels right for you and setting boundaries. You’ve done that beautifully with your client work schedule. Recognizing that most of your clients work 9-5, you have some weekend hours to accommodate them. However, you’re also reserving weekend time for you to play and relax.

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