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Productivity in your Personal and Professional Life

Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa
Date: 15 October 2020


Productivity in your Personal and Professional life

by Senzekile Shongwe


Being productive means getting things done and focusing on what you need to focus on at the time that you need to focus on it, being unproductive on the other hand means not being able to produce expected results at a specific amount of time. Procrastination is one of the biggest results of unproductivity; when you find yourself wondering and doing things that you are not supposed to be doing.

What it means to be Productive in your personal life

Practice self-care

  • Self-care is really important, it does not matter who you are or how many jobs and children you have, you need to have time to yourself doing the things that you love and enjoy. This allows you to be more productive in all the other areas of your life.

Build good relationships

  • Have a social life, this does not only help you escape life stresses once in a while but it also helps you to feel alive.
  • Go out with a friend; attend social gatherings with positive people.

Stay away from toxic relationships

  • Life is hectic enough, stay away from toxic people and toxic environments if you can. Focus on building mutual, good and fulfilling relationships rather.

Have good finances

  • Bad financial planning can turn your life upside down; it can control how much you work, how much you can spend and how much you can save. If your finances are bad you are most likely to work much more than you can rest.
  • Plan ahead and avoid getting into unnecessary debt to minimize financial stress.

Manage your stress well

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Eat well
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive


What it means to be productive in your professional life

Create a schedule

  • Create a schedule at every beginning of the week; make sure to put it where you can see it when you are working.
  • Make sure that your schedule starts from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.
  • Include breaks in your schedule, do not use this time to catch up on work, make sure you follow your schedule respectively.
  • Leave a slot for emergency work tasks, this slot you will use when you need to get a project done on the last minute or if you could not finish a task when you had hoped to finish it. It will help ease the pressure.


Make a TO-DO list

  • Create a to- do list daily so that it complements your schedule.
  • A to-do list helps you to break down big tasks into small tasks.
  • Give yourself small rewards for completing tasks, this will reinforce your efforts of sticking to your schedule and completing your to-do list.

Set realistic Goals

  • Make goal setting a habit.
  • You can start with small goals like completing a weekly task to big goals like meeting certain work targets or finishing a big project before time to even bigger goals like getting a work promotion.
  • Setting goals and achieving them helps you to see the productivity in your life overall.

Share your success

  • Celebrate your achievements and share them with people that are close to your heart.
  • Learn to appreciate and celebrate your great efforts.
  • This works as an amazing reinforcement for good work.

Signs that you may be having an unproductive life

 Developing chronic stress

  • This means always being stressed by work and personal life events.
  • This can include headaches, fatigue, burnout and low self-esteem.

Bad quality of work

  • If you are working just to pay the bills and you are not really enjoying the work that you do.
  • Doing the bare minimum just to tick the completed block.
  • Bad quality of work usually comes from a lack of motivation, pressure and being too tired to care about giving good results.

Missed deadlines

  • Missing deadlines for projects is a huge sign that you are unproductive in the work that you do and maybe it is time to look at better working methods.

Not seeing the fruits of your work

  • Whether you are trying to build a relationship, trying to lose weight or trying to work or study; if you do not see the fruits of your labor it could mean that you are unproductive.
  • You need to be expectant of the results that you want to see when you put in the work.

Balance your professional and personal life

Stay on top of your schedule

  • Try by all means to not procrastinate, follow your schedule as best as you can.
  • If you fail to follow your schedule today, try again tomorrow and do not panic.
  • Following your schedule will not be easy when you start, do not give up.

Do not let one creep into the other

  • Separate your work life from your personal life.
  • Have a separate working space from your personal life space.
  • Do not work when you are supposed to be spending time with family; do not play when you are supposed to be working.

Know the schedules of those around you.

  • If you want to have a balanced life, you need to know other people’s schedules before you set yours, E.g. If you want to go out for dinner this week you would need to know when the other person will be available so that you avoid having clashes or missing out on important events because you need to work or be in a meeting with someone else.

It is important to understand that moving from being unproductive to being productive will take time, effort and discipline. As you work to being more productive, you will cut down on wasted time and you will get back to focusing on what it is that you care about. I hope this course has helped you to learn more on how to be productive in your personal and work life.


  • Abraham, S. (2012). Job satisfaction as an antecedent to employee engagement SIES Journal of Management, 8(2), 27-36.
  • Anitha J. (2014). Determinants of employee engagement and their impact on employee performance International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 63(3), 308-323.
  • Stephanie Winston. Getting out from under: redefining your priorities in an overwhelming world. Perseus Books, Reading, Massachusetts, 1999 and her other earlier books on organizing for work and home

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