Sunday Snippet: Productivityist Mike Vardy

“The quality of our lives is much improved by the times we have as opposed to the things we have. I also believe that by working on the things I love for little to no money, I will gradually increase the amount of money I make doing things.”

When the topic of life-work balance is brought up, many people have the impression that these two aspects of your life can and should have on-off switches. After a long day at the office, the thinking is that you can shut off the “work” part of your brain and turn on the “life” part of your brain to enjoy the weekend. Other people, particularly entrepreneurs, recognize this may not always be optimal or even possible. It’s more of a blend, since neither aspect is ever completely shut off.

Thinking about “work” and “life” in terms of on-off switches can lead to the impression that your job is nothing more than a paycheck. It’s simply a means of generating income so that you have the money to buy a new TV or a new smartphone. The happiness you may glean from your purchases is fleeting, because you’re always chasing the next carrot on a stick.

I’ve known about Productivityist and Mike Vardy for a number of years, but I’ve only recently started listening to his podcast. I also picked up (and read) his book Beyond Trying not that long ago. It’s a collection of some of his favorite essays on the broad topic of productivity. Interestingly, he doesn’t really offer real advice on how you can get more things done in less time. Rather, it’s about figuring out how to do the right things on your own time.

As a freelancer myself, it becomes far too tempting to seek a direct connection between work done and income generated. If I write this article for this client, I’ll earn this amount of money. But if I write this blog post on Beyond the Rhetoric, I may not necessarily see any direct financial gains. And if I spend the afternoon playing with my daughter in the park, I might not earn any money at all.

It has taken me a long time to realize and to appreciate that I should allow work to revolve around my life and not the other thing around. As Mike Vardy says, this ethereal “quality of life” that we seek is better bolstered through experiences than physical objects. Money isn’t all that useful if you’re miserable trying to get more of it.

“Sometimes it’s best to hit the brakes when you need to in order to make sure you don’t crash into anything. After all, if you keep going at full speed, you’re bound to lose control at some point.”

Another subject that I’ve approached on this blog in the past is that, as a freelancer, I may feel compelled or obligated to work all the time because I can work at any time. This lends itself to tremendous guilt and a propensity for burnout, neither of which is particularly healthy.

Pump those brakes.

Take a step back.

And go for a walk in the park.

Your productivity, sanity and “quality of life” will surely improve as a result.

Image credit: Simple REV (Flickr)