We’re officially one month through 2024. Are you still making progress towards your goals?

It’s striking how much we’re all striving to be more efficient these days. The productivity software market is set to hit a whopping US$79.07 billion this year. 

Amidst this push for ‘peak productivity,’ I’ve started questioning its necessity. After all, we are not machines.

So let’s hit reset this week and chat about HUMAN productivity.

Industrial Productivity

Productivity, deeply rooted in industry, historically prioritized optimizing machines and processes for efficiency and output.

Figures like Adam Smith, with his emphasis on specialization and division of labor in “The Wealth of Nations,” set the stage for understanding productivity within this context.

Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management principles furthered this focus by aiming to maximize worker efficiency through task analysis and standardization.

Henry Ford’s introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913 marked a significant leap in manufacturing productivity.

Humans are not machines, and this industrial approach has led to toxic productivity in society. This looks like the relentless pursuit of work at the expense of well-being.

For teachers, the pressure to always be visibly working, even when unwell, and the constant pressure to achieve unrealistic goals or perfection is what leads to teacher guilt.

I think it is time to bring the HUMAN into productivity.

Human Productivity

Unlike “peak” or “industrial” productivity, human productivity is all about how we juggle our time and tasks while still finding room for a bit of balance and well-being.

It’s about getting things done without burning ourselves out, and maybe even finding a little joy in the process. Here is what it looks like.


5 Principles of Human Productivity:

1) It is mindful: Mindfulness and productivity may sound at odds, yet “mindfulness” just means awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings. Mindful productivity, therefore, is being present with your thoughts and feelings while engaged in work or other activities.

2) It respects boundaries: Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life, avoiding overworking or allowing work to encroach upon personal time excessively. (Yes, even if that means saying no to running that extra-curricular club after school!!!)

3) It is intentional: Making conscious choices about where to direct your energy and time. Optimizing for joy, fulfillment, and impact.

4) It is realistic: Establishing achievable and meaningful goals. Breaking down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks that align with your capabilities and available resources.

5) It prioritizes self-care: Incorporating activities into your routine to support overall well-being. This might include taking breaks for physical movement, practicing mindfulness or meditation, ensuring proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and/or nurturing social connections – whatever fuels YOU!


As an educator, your dedication can often lead to perpetual busyness, juggling countless responsibilities, and playing ‘Whac-a-Mole’ all day.

Amidst this flurry, I urge you to pause for a moment and consider: How does this constant busyness benefit you and your students?

It really doesn’t. By embracing a more human approach to productivity, we can set a better example for future generations.

Until next week!

Sarah Mae
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Sarah Mae | The educatorRESET

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Sarah Mae | Educator & Education Advocate | educatorRESET

Hi–I’m Sarah Mae. I help educators maintain a healthy work-life balance throughout the school year and teach their students to do the same.

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Sarah Mae | The educatorRESET

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