3 Pitfalls of a Productivity Driven Society - Intentional By Grace

3 Pitfalls of a Productivity-Driven Society

In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a productivity-driven society. We focus on tasks more than people. We consider our day well spent if the entire to-do list is checked off.

We rush from activity to activity feeling very proud of our “busyness.”

We wear our multitasking abilities as a badge of honor, and we look down our noses at those who don’t serve on every committee just.like.we.do.

I mean, isn’t this part of it? This harried, exhausted lifestyle is just the way it is, right? There’s no other way, and we might as well resolve ourselves to this way of life.

But at the expense of what? What does our busyness sacrifice?

Not too long ago, my husband and I were talking with a couple. We were asking them about their community of friends – did they have any? We asked them what they did for fun together and as a family with their two children?

We were saddened by their answers.

They had no close friends. They didn’t have time for them.

They didn’t spend time as a family often because they held down two jobs a piece making ends meet.

The nights they had free from work, they spent at whatever extracurricular events their children were involved in.

Nights in at home cuddled around a bowl of popcorn watching a family movie was unheard of, let alone a date night out together.

“We’re just too busy for those kinds of  things,” they said.

pitfalls of a productivity-driven society_edited-1

So, I pose the question again.

At the expense of what? What does our busyness sacrifice?

This isn’t just a family issue. This is an issue that each and every single one of us faces day-in and day-out.

This is why I’m so passionate about intentional living.

I’m passionate because our productivity-driven society has some major pitfalls, and it’s these pitfalls that we have to be aware of and be intentional to combat.

3 Pitfalls of a Productivity Driven Society - Intentional By Grace

3 Pitfalls of a Productivity-Driven Society

We Sacrifice Relationships

Community. We crave it, but we don’t know how to obtain it.

We want to know and be known by others, yet we don’t have time to move past the surface.

We don’t have enough margin in our day for a crying friend … or teenage daughter … or aging parent.

We ask, “How are you?” but we don’t really want to know the answer. When we see the person who actually tells us, we avoid them at all costs.

Or better yet, we’re rushing around serving one another – taking Mom to the doctor, delivering food to a new mother, making costumes for the elementary school play, planning the next women’s retreat, and creating graphics for the local mom’s ministry brochures.

This is hard to move past. This idea that you’re serving and staying so busy taking care of everyone else that you don’t have time to stop and just talk with them … to just be known by them.

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We have to slow down and connect our hearts to others. We have to intentionally tether our lives to people who love Jesus and love our community in a deeper way.

Conversations are rich when faces are familiar, yet we sacrifice relationships when we’re too busy.

Serving one another in love is a good thing but every need is not our calling.

We Sacrifice Real Food

Oh real food how I love thee.

However, you’ve only to walk into the local grocery store and head to one of the middle aisles to see what I mean on this pitfall of our productivity-driven society.

Have you seen the cereal aisle lately?

It’s not just down one side of the aisle anymore, it’s down both sides! Quick and easy breakfast options full of sugar, food dyes, and GMOs just to name a few of the culprits.

One pitfall of our productivity driven society - real food.
But these boxed foods are easy. Convenient. All we can manage because we’re so busy.

We frequent drive-thrus in favor of a quick meal on the go to our next activity instead of family meals gathered around the dinner table.

We buy boxed foods and dine on frozen pizzas (and I don’t mean the homemade kind).

We have no idea where our meat comes from, let alone who was forced to work in the fields in less than stellar conditions to provide this coveted piece of chocolate.

We don’t think about the pesticide ridden foods we consume, let alone who is affected by this mass production lifestyle.

We don’t think.

We just keep plowing forward with our agendas and lifestyles thinking that what we do (or in this case consume) doesn’t affect anyone else.

This is just the way things are.

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I get it. I’ve been there.

My husband and I were there until we couldn’t afford it anymore. We still go there from time to time, but it’s not our desire to stay there.

We get there when we’re just too busy. Too driven by our lists and agendas rather than our desire to serve others and be a good neighbor.

Never slowing down, always driven by our to-do lists and obligations makes the mere need to eat food for sustenance a chore.

Food and all that it entails is a burden in a productivity-driven society instead of a way to enjoy this life God has given us. And allow others to enjoy their lives as well.

We Sacrifice Rest

We were created for rest. In fact, we are commanded to rest.

However, our productivity-driven society frowns on rest. We write books and teach seminars on how to be better time managers and make those in between times productive.

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Sitting in the carpool line? Use the time to balance your checkbook.

At the doctor’s office? Catch up on email.

Waiting on water to boil? Vacuum the floor.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the filling of time with productivity, but what if …

Sitting in the carpool line? Use the time to talk with the preschooler in the back seat.

At the doctor’s office? Talk to the person next to you.

Waiting on the water to boil? Sit on the front porch and watch the birds.

Leaving a to-do list unfinished is hard, but in the end, it comes down to faith. It takes great faith to leave a to-do list undone.

3 Pitfalls of a Productivity Driven Society - Intentional By Grace
Do you have the courage to say:

“Lord, in my own strength, I am incapable. You made me for rest and I must take it. I trust that what goes undone, you will fill in the gaps with your grace.”

Rest is not a sin. Rest is not idleness. We need rest, and we must learn to rest as God has commanded.

I have a secret for you. If you want to slow down in a productivity-driven society, you are the only one who can make it happen.

You are the only one who can choose to start saying no to things that aren’t deeply important to you.

You get to make a choice.

You get to make a choice whether you will live according to what your family values or what the world values.

I’ll be the first to tell you – living intentionally is offensive to people. You will be a square peg constantly trying to fit into a round hole.

You will be frowned on when you leave the dishes in the sink to play a game of cards with your four year old.

You will be made fun of for choosing to do without certain cuts of meat because your budget just can’t handle the price of organic or free-range.

You will offend people with your very existence, but you will also inspire others to live more intentionally.

However, you are the only one who can stop the cycle, cease the rat race, and start living the life you want and not the life our western society is handing you.

If you want a slower pace, you’re the one in charge of your schedule.

If you want to go deeper in relationships, eat better and experience earthly rest, you have to slow down and let go of the productivity mindset.

It’s up to you. What will you do?

Recommended Reading:

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, by Tsh Oxenreider

Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, by Macrina Wiederkehr

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, by Kevin DeYoung

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard Swenson

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11 Comments

  1. Yes, this. Thank you for writing this. My husband and I often talk about how we choose to work to support our lives, not live to support our work. Not a common viewpoint in the farming community but our family is already showing the rewards of our commitment to living more intentionally.

  2. Thanks for this post. Sometimes I feel guilty for not volunteering at school or having the kids in extracurricular activities. I was really bothered when one of the moms at school said about a nighttime school event, “I don’t know why more parents aren’t volunteering — it’s after work (5:00).” Maybe it’s after work for some people, but not for many — we all get off at 6:00 or later. Regarding extracurricular activities, I feel like some of my friends have their kids in too many. I was a little surprised to hear that there’s a new business in our city that is like Uber for your kids — it’s a car service that drives your kids around to their activities. I’m sure it will be helpful to busy parents, but I can’t believe it’s come to this. I’m also bothered by the fact that people are so into their smartphones while they’re waiting, that strangers don’t even chit chat with each other anymore.

  3. Thanks! Our daughter is still too young for all the extracurricular activities but I already feel it impending on me with all the activities I should or shouldn’t have her be doing! I’ve been trying to voice the same thing myself but everybody keeps telling me that I will change my mind when my child gets older! We will see, I guess, but I pray that I will not forget to focus on family!

  4. I really appreciate your perspective in this post! I can definitely feel like a square peg when everyone is going on and on about how busy and exhausted they are when my husband and I have specifically chosen paths that don’t lead us away from focusing on God and on each other. It means that we don’t have as much income as the Joneses, and we may not get to do as many extravagant things, but our days are more peaceful and intentional. It’s a different sort of life, but it’s a life lived well, if I may say so myself! Thank you for your post 🙂