As I wrote about last week, I’m currently in Taranaki running a three-week experiment on what it means to be ‘unhurriedly productive’. If you’re not already following my daily clips, you can check them out here.

As I write this, it’s the end of Day Eight. I’m in a bit of an uncomfortable state of mind. The first week was kind of novel. I had some client work to deliver, so I had some rhythm to my days. This week, I have nothing pressing to deliver. And as I reflect on what I’ve achieved, you could say by normal productivity measures, it’s not much. And that’s making me uncomfortable. One third of my way through my time, shouldn’t I have produced something by now?

A few weeks back, I shared a model that outlines the problem with our current workplace cultures when it comes to productivity. (You can read about it in more depth here). In essence, most of our workplace cultures and reward systems have us looping unsustainably between the Exhaustion and Observation boxes. We’re far better off setting things up to have our centre of gravity in the Flow box, and allowing ourselves to spend an appropriate amount of time in the other three boxes.


When I first wrote about this idea, I didn’t say much about the Frustration box. I think that’s where I am right now. I’m not producing much (except a daily video and this post!) and my mind is racing about what I should have achieved by now. I’m feeling hurried to want to make something happen, and yet I’m feeling unproductive.

I shared my discomfort with two colleagues, Simon Dowling and Colin Ellis, on our weekly Zoom call. They both wisely reflected that maybe feeling this way is just part of the process. Maybe feeling uncomfortable is something to sit with right now, rather than something to make go away?

I think they’re right. The Frustration box has some potential value. As anyone who has achieved mastery in any field can attest to, the creative process needs gestation time. You can’t rush it. I should be listening to my own advice – I recently wrote about allowing things to take the time they take.

Interestingly, as I write about this, I can feel myself surrendering to the idea of letting the need for productivity go. It seems more sensible to not try so hard, and let the days unfold at a more natural pace.


Here are some questions for you to sit with and explore:

  • Where in your life or work are you prioritising delivery over discovery?
  • What’s the real cost to you, your team, or your organisation by doing this?
  • What opportunities exist right now for you to allow ideas to simply gestate?
  • How can you make it OK for yourself and others to let go of doing for a while, and just be, without the pressure of the next deliverable?




Like this post? When you’re ready, here are three ways I can help you further:
Sign up to my ‘Thinking from the Edge’ newsletter to get tips, insights and early
release information that I don’t share on the usual social channels. Delivered weekly
to your inbox.
● Get my book, Change Makers: How to make your mark with more impact and less
drama. It’s available here.
● Check out Change Makers Kick Start – an online course + community to help you
make your mark with more impact and less drama.