Better questions to ask yourself than “was I productive today”

Anyone with lots of goals understands how frustrating it is to not feel productive.


Anyone with lots of goals understands how frustrating it is to not feel productive. What was I wasting time on? How can I be more efficient at work? How can I produce more? I wish I would have gotten more done at work. Bills, errands, traffic, chores, and the maintenance of daily life make it easy to feel like we didn’t achieve our potential today.

In the long run, it’s not important. Here’s what a hospice nurse revealed were the top five regrets of the dying:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

Work is always right in front of our face. Our projects and goals are inevitably quantified and measurable, so we always notice the gap between “what I did” and “what I still need to do.” The more time we spend thinking about work, the more natural and important it seems—and the more we identify with work.

But when it comes to the important stuff in life—the stuff we’ll be musing about in decades, when our bodies and minds aren’t cooperating as well—there are no project managers busting our chops; no Gantt charts holding us accountable.

At night, don’t ask yourself if you were as productive as possible at work. Ask yourself:

  • Did I give myself time to do something personally meaningful, that makes me happy?

  • Was I honest with the people around me, or did I bite my tongue out of fear? How can I set things straight tomorrow with compassion?

  • Did I reach out to someone I haven’t been in touch with in a while?

  • Did I do something today that got me closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream?

The universe will carve out 8 hours for you to work and be productive tomorrow; you alone are responsible for carving out time for building the foundations of a meaningful life.


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