6 Ways to Implement Sustainable Productivity in Your Life and Business

Growing up, our household ran on one simple motto: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” My parents, bless their hearts, instilled in me the value of “hard work” at a young age. 

Saturdays weren’t for lounging around, they were for rolling up our sleeves and getting things done. Rest? Who needs it when there’s more work to be done?! 

As a kid, I soaked up all the benefits of this hustle mentality. I’ll be honest, it definitely helped me in getting good jobs and being asked to take on leadership roles because, well, I never stopped—Like the Energizer Bunny, just swap out my batteries, and off I went 🐰

But let’s be real, all that go-go-go eventually caught up with me and led to deeeeep burnout. I’ll never forget my senior year of undergrad—I was a full-time student, managing a coffee shop AND doing an internship all at the same time. I got so extremely overworked that I was actually hospitalized because I came down with a bad case of mono and literally could not get out of bed.

Talk about toxic productivity.

But amidst all the chaos and exhaustion, I learned a valuable lesson—a lesson that reshaped my approach to work and life, which is the concept of sustainable productivity. 

What is sustainable productivity? 

So, what exactly is sustainable productivity, and how does it differ from the hustle mentality I grew up with? 

For me, sustainable productivity is finding a balance between genuine hard work and taking care of yourself. It’s about realizing that productivity shouldn’t come at the expense of your well-being. 

Instead of working yourself to the bone, it’s about focusing on quality over quantity, prioritizing what truly matters, and embracing the principle of doing “less but better,” something I learned from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less by Greg McKeown—HIGHLY recommend btw. 

At the end of the day sustainable productivity is about redefining what it means to be a “hard worker” in a way that respects your humanity and acknowledges your need for rest and recovery. 

Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. 

Buuuuut through a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of trial and error over the years, I’ve discovered six game-changing principles that have helped me embrace a more sustainable approach to productivity as an entrepreneur and ya know, a normal human being. 

6 Principles To Help You Embrace Sustainable Productivity

1. Intentional Procrastination

I’m a world-class procrastinator. Always have been and (probably) always will be.

I used to see it as a bad thing, like self-sabotage. Honestly, sometimes it is—BUT lately, I’ve started looking at procrastination a bit differently.

Sure, sometimes it can feel like I’m just wasting time by delaying the inevitable. But other times I see procrastination as a helpful tool.

Sometimes, when I’m putting off a task, my brain is secretly working on it in the background. It’s like my body’s way of saying, “Hey, let’s take a breather and let those creative juices flow.”

So for me, procrastination isn’t just about avoiding work, it’s about giving my mind the chance to sort through ideas and find their rhythm. Rather than forcing myself to dive straight into work, I’ve learned to embrace what I call “intentional procrastination.”

This might look like doing something mundane like laundry or cleaning the bathroom. At first, it feels like I’m just avoiding work. But I’m moving my body AND doing something productive, even if it’s not directly related to my task, actually helps me focus. And sometimes these are when my BEST ideas come to me! Kinda like I’m pressing a lil reset button for my brain so I can approach a task with a fresh perspective and more energy.  

So yeah, intentional procrastination isn’t always the enemy—it can be a surprisingly effective tool in getting stuff done. 

Tip: Next time you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself: Is my brain trying to tell me something? Use that time to engage in intentional procrastination by doing simple tasks that allow your thoughts to simmer and your creativity to wander. 

2. Embrace “Done is Better Than Perfect”

Confession: I used to wear my perfectionism like a badge of honor—as do all recovering perfectionists, I’m sure. 

Every project had to be flawless, every detail meticulously planned. But as I started to embrace the idea of sustainable productivity, I realized that perfectionism was holding me back. It was basically fear, dressed up in fancier clothes, and was 1000% serving as a barrier to making any progress.

So, over the years, I’ve  made a conscious decision to embrace the mantra: “Done is better than perfect.” It wasn’t easy at first and I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. But I’ve slowwwwly, begun to warm up to the idea that imperfection is NOT a sign of failure, but it’s an opportunity for growth.

What helps me is making lists—if you’ve been around for a while, this should come as no surprise. 

The two lists that I live off of are:

1️⃣ I like to call it the “move the needle” list.

It includes things that will make a direct impact on my big-picture goals. Things that are most important to me and require more focused time and attention. I allow myself to be more ridged with things on this list and not gonna lie, I allow the perfectionist version of myself to play around a bit more. Because lord knows, I’ll never be rid of her, so I like to throw her a bone every now and then.  

2️⃣ The “you did your best” list.

This is where allll the other tasks live. Don’t get me wrong, I still make an effort with this list, but I embrace the “done is better than perfect” manta and at the end of the day, I tell myself, “Welp, you did your best, Lorin. That’s all that really matters.” 

Having these two lists, as silly and simple as they may be, has allowed me to let go and focus on progress over perfection.

Tip: If you’re also a recovering perfectionist, I encourage you to create your own lists of tasks that require a bit more focused attention and those that don’t. Challenge yourself to prioritize progress over perfection, and remember, you’re allowed to make mistakes! 

3. Rest is Productive. Period. 

As a marathon runner, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of rest in achieving peak performance. Just like overtraining can lead to injury, overworking can lead to burnout—I mean, obviously, you know I learned that lesson from my previous story. 

That’s why I’ve made rest a non-negotiable part of my version of sustainable productivity.

Now, what “rest” looks like varies from person to person, but the key is to PRIORITIZE it. I go so far as to literally schedule it into my daily calendar, treating it like any other task on my list.

In the running world, we have what’s called “active recovery” days. These are lighter workouts that follow more intense training sessions. The purpose is to help your muscles recover without tightening up and risking injury.

Now, let’s apply this principle to entrepreneurship. Say you’ve had a particularly demanding day of work and you’re tempted to spend the next day vegging out on the couch with a Netflix binge (hey, no judgment—we all need those days!). 

But instead, maybe consider engaging in activities that still require some level of brainpower, but just a different kind. This could be reading, listening to a podcast, doing house chores, or even hitting the gym.

These activities not only give your mind a break but also help you decompress in a healthy way, especially if you tend to carry stress in your body (like me).

So, remember, rest isn’t just about being “still” it’s about recharging in a way that works best for YOU.

Tip: Schedule rest and “active recovery” days on your calendar, treating them with the same level of importance as work tasks. If you’re not even sure how to rest (been there), try experimenting with a few different activities to find out what feels best.

4. Start Tracking Your Time and Capacity, and Learn to Say ‘No’

Time management has always been a struggle for me. 

I’m what you might call a “time optimist,” always underestimating how long tasks will take. But recently, I’ve started tracking my time more diligently, and it’s been an absolute game-changer!

I’m not suggesting you need to track every minute of every day, but for me, time tracking has helped me keep my priorities in check. It also helps me see which aspects of a project take longer which helps me make adjustments in my process, and timelines, and evaluate whether or not I’m charging the right rate for my services. 

Time tracking is also a game-changer for me when it comes to figuring out my capacity. As someone who’s trying to get better at saying “no” (recovering people-pleaser here!), knowing how much I can realistically handle in terms of projects helps me flex that “no” muscle without burning myself out. 

And when I talk about capacity, I’m not just talking about hours in the day, it’s also about energy levels. If you’re not sure what that looks like for you, check out this post where I dive into working according to your energy. 

Tip: Try tracking your time for a week and see what pops up. Are there any areas where you’re spending more time than you realize? Use that info to set realistic expectations and boundaries for yourself.

5. Flexibility is Your Best Friend

Reality check: we’re entrepreneurs, we’re not performing surgery here mmmmk?—nothing’s an emergency. 

It’s totally cool to roll with the punches and be flexible. I mean, isn’t that why we started our own businesses in the first place? To break free from the nine-to-five grind? 

As someone who has been a victim of toxic productivity in the past, I have to remind myself of that every single day. And you know what? My energy levels fluctuate like crazy, so being flexible is key. Some days, I’m up at the crack of dawn, ready to conquer the world and knock out my to-do list. Other days, I’m dragging and need to take it slow. 

And guess what? That’s perfectly OKAYYYY! 

You’re allowed to work at your own pace, based on what works for YOU. If you’re not sure what that looks like, check out this post where I dive into how to craft your ideal day based on what works best for you and your life as well as some tips for what to do when things don’t go as planned. Trust me, it’s worth a read!

Tip: Pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day and adjust your schedule accordingly. Remember, flexibility is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength!

6. Aim For Quality Over Quantity

In a world that glorifies hustle and grind, it’s easy to fall into the trap of equating productivity with busyness. But I’ve learned that true productivity is not about how much you do, but how well you do it.

When a task starts to feel like pulling teeth, I take it as a sign to step back and reassess. Maybe I need a break, or maybe I need to approach the task from a different angle. Whatever the case, I’ve learned to prioritize quality over quantity—to focus on doing fewer things, but doing them better. 

Tip: The next time you find yourself struggling with a task, ask yourself: Am I sacrificing quality for quantity? Don’t be afraid to step away and come back with fresh eyes.

Sustainable Productivity is Personal 

In the end, sustainable productivity is a deeply personal journey. What works for me may not work for you, and that’s okay. The key is to experiment, listen to your instincts, and find a rhythm that allows you to thrive—not just survive—in your work AND life.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy these posts from my Productivity category on my blog:


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