The more you do, the more you want to get done. That’s basically the definition of the efficiency trap.
That’s because busyness is an addiction; you could call it instant gratification for work, I call it the adrenaline rush.
We’ve all been there: impossible daily to-do lists, powering through emails, planning projects in too much detail, endless meetings, setting unrealistic deadlines for tasks, rushing to get more clients, more market share, more exposure, more done in a day. Squeeze in just one more hack to make your morning more productive. Or optimise just one more process so you get more done before noon. And do it all over again the next day.
Whatever the reward is for you (money, fame & glory, making the world a better place), you have to realise at some point, you’re just doing it for the thrill and you’d do anything to take the edge off.
Because like with any addiction — the more you satisfy your craving, the more you want (or need) to do to get that satisfaction back.
And then you get to a point where you do it just for the sake of it; you don’t necessarily know why you’re doing it anymore (there’s a distorted sense of pleasure in it anyway), but you can’t stop doing it either.
Productivity is like a hamster wheel — after the initial few steps, it’s spinning mostly out of inertia and it goes faster and faster until you crash out of it. It also doesn’t get you anywhere, it just gives you the illusion that you’re living at 100 miles per hour.
So what is the solution?
Simply slow down. As counterintuitive as it might sound, slowing down doesn’t actually make you waste time or accomplish less in life. On the contrary.
Slowing down will make your perception of time slow down as well; you’ll come to think you have more of it. Just like looking through the window of a car going slowly through the countryside — you’ll not see a lot in an hour or feel exhilarated by the ride, but you’ll enjoy the scenery a lot more.
Slowing down will definitely give you more time to come out of auto-pilot, become more self-aware and consider the important things in your life. Make room for the people & stories that matter, for getting bored and living with imagination and purpose.