While pondering my productivity experiment, I’m coming to the conclusion that happiness is both an ends and a means to productivity and organization:
- Ends: Why do we want to be productive? Because it’s satisfying. It makes us happy. Or, whatever being productive gets us (career advancement, a final product, money, peace, more time with our family), brings us happiness.
- Means: It is difficult to be productive when we are unhappy. There may be some people or certain situations where we become productive when we are unhappy or angry, but I think of these as short bursts of reactionary productivity rather than anything sustainable.
In other words, it’s a cause and an effect.
What’s the point of this? Coming out of winter and what I’m thinking is an undiagnosed case of S.A.D., I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in this cause-and-effect loop where I think I will be more productive if I get happier, but I will be happier if I can be more productive. (Don’t worry, dear readers, I’m not very unhappy, just trying to figure out what I can do be more productive.) Sort of a chicken or egg issue (which came first?), but it seems they must happen together.
For the last year I’ve been enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. Here are some of her thoughts on happiness:
- A Secret to Happiness? Don’t Get Organized! (and a video) Get rid of things before you get organized – maybe you really just need to simplify. Also, it’s easier to stay organized if you have less stuff.
- The 27 Most Important Rules for Keeping your House in Order
- A Quiz: Are you Organized or Disorganized? (Surprisingly reassuring. Although I’ve been feeling a bit disorganized recently, I can actually check of everything on both lists — with the exception that I don’t own any food coloring.)
People, we don’t all have to be perfect. Organization (and the closely-related productivity) can help us be happy, and just the act of organizing can cause happiness. But obsessing about it can lead to feeling guilty. Organization can’t fix everything if you have too much stuff or too much to do. For me, it really helps to have EASY systems. Complex systems usually lead to either stress or failure.
Are you good at getting rid of things in the first place so you don’t have to organize them? What about the intangible things?
Where’s your sweet spot for staying happy with regards to organization? More or less organization?
Does organization interfere or help with your productivity?
Gretchen’s focus this month is order, so I’m hoping some more on-topic inspiration will come my way soon…