5 May 2020 | 3 min read


The world has been talking a lot about productivity lately. Here at Volunteer U, we’ve spent some time focusing on the subject as well. Last month we wrote an article on the 7 Ways to Stay Productive During the Lockdown. In the article, we talked a lot about ways to make yourself feel productive. Because the truth is, productivity is just as much about emotions as it is about completing tasks. 

Many top performers struggle with feelings of inadequacy and ineffectiveness. You might be more productive than you realize, and if you aren’t focusing on the wins, it could lead to a spiral of stress. 


But as the pressure to be productive keeps building, it’s time to crush some serious productivity hangups. The most important of which is: Your productivity doesn’t equal your worth. 


You can have bad days. You’re still valuable. You can take a long time to finish a project. You still have worth. Your laundry can be piling up, dishes flooding the sink, kids still in pajamas, and ordering pizza for the third time this week. You are still important. You are more than what you accomplish. Understanding the difference between who you are and what you do is critical in finding contentment. It’s all about your mindset. 



As we mentioned last month, it’s important to celebrate even tiny achievements. When you celebrate a goal accomplished, your brain releases dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and elevates endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller). If you need proof of what celebrating the small stuff can positively do for your brain, check out this Forbes article or this post on Psychology Today

And according to educational development expert Mehrnaz Bassiri, small wins can turn into major victories by shifting a few habits in your life. Like balancing expectations, finding a few friends to support you, and keeping a journal. 



Comparison is a trap that can discontent the best of us. In times when we judge our productivity by what we see around us, it can be particularly grueling. Doubt fuels comparison. 


There is an issue common among graduate students called Imposter Syndrome. It is the persistent fear that someone will come along and unmask you as a fraud. Even though they have many examples of outward success, these individuals feel that their achievements are only due to luck. But it’s not a lack of their ability that is at the root of this problem. Graduate students and other high achievers who suffer from Imposter Syndrome are often really struggling with self-doubt.


According to researcher Kirsten Weir, there are a few ways to beat Imposter Syndrome. Realize no one is perfect, reframe the way you think about achievements, remember what you do well, and recognize your expertise. 



Our thoughts have a direct impact on our life. 


And you are most likely your own worst critic. It’s time to switch off the negative narrative playing in your head and lean into the positive. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking allows us to approach difficulties, unpleasantness, and fear in a more productive way. It also has a tremendous amount of health benefits. It all starts in your mind. 


Famous actor-comedian Jim Carrey is the perfect example of positive thinking (and doing). Coming from a low-income family, Carrey was no stranger to hard work. In 1992 sitting in his car after another failed attempt toward his Hollywood dreams, Carrey pulled out his checkbook and wrote himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered.” He dated the check for 1995 and slipped it in his wallet—fast forward three years. The movie Dumb and Dumber cast Carrey in the lead. His paycheck for the film? You guessed it—$10 million. 

 It’s not enough to think positively. You need to keep positive with your actions as well. It’s a mixture of positivity and hard work. According to Carrey, “That’s the thing, you can’t just visualize, and then, you know, go eat a sandwich.” 

Want more great articles delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe to the Volunteer U Blog