Does Stress Need To Accompany Productivity?

April 9, 2012

Recently, I realized I had fallen into the trap of thinking that productivity needed to be coupled with stress and anxiety. I thought I needed to let a problem consume me in order for me to be able to come up with a solution.

However, it dawned on me as I was driving in my car listening to an audiobook that I had it all wrong. You see, I thought if I was optimistic and grateful and kept my stress and anxiety at a minimum, I would be ignoring the challenges that needed to be addressed.

But I realized there is a better approach: It is better to be optimistic and grateful, but still be proactive about finding solutions.

If we use this approach, we will have more energy and our minds will be creative.

The alternative is to get stressed and anxious. When we are in this state, our thinking gets smaller and smaller and we won’t come up with any solutions!

Question: Are you more productive when you’re stressed and anxious or when you’re optimistic and grateful? 

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Ann J Musico April 10, 2012 at 8:06 am

    MUCH more productive and creative when I am optimistic and grateful. Many times I’ve found when something happens and I have no clue as to how to proceed, if I take a minute, breathe and thank God for showing me exactly what I need to do – I see the answer where if I get anxious and stressed – I lose focus and flounder in that mode.

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Ann, that sounds like a much better approach. I think it’s neat that you thank God for showing you how to proceed even before you know exactly how to do that. I guess that comes down to faith and trust.

  • Reply Scott Kantner April 10, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I’ll have to experiment and find out. Actually, it used to be that I wasn’t even aware I was stressed until somebody else would point it out to me, so I’ll try your suggestion and see what happens. 😉

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Scott, I can be guilty of the same thing – not even knowing when I’m stressed. I’m interested in knowing what you find.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply Stephen Krow April 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Great post! I think there is sometimes a false sense of importance that comes with being stressed out all the time. But in the long run I think it actually hinders our work, creativity, health, and family life. What was the audiobook you were listening to that addressed this issue?

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Thanks, Stephen. Great insight and input!

      I was listening to “Embrace the Struggle” by Zig Ziglar. It wasn’t even directly related to this revelation, but something about when he explained how he CHOSE his attitude after his fall, got me thinking.

  • Reply Joe Lalonde April 10, 2012 at 11:39 am

    The threat of a deadline always did wonders for my productivity while I was in school. Class assignments where hastily finished right before the start of a class. The down to the wire finish drew out my best work.

    Now, as I’ve aged, I’m not sure if it’s true anymore… Now I like to have things done and completed well ahead of schedule in case any unforeseen obstacles appear.

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Great insight, Joe.

      I think I did the same thing back in school. And, I find myself doing the same thing now sometimes as well.

      For instance, when I’m leaving the house to go somewhere, there’s a flurry of activity to get out to door. Not always, but sometimes. The thing is, I CAN get a lot accomplished this way. However, it stresses me out and, more importantly, those around me. In the long run, it’s not a very good method.

  • Reply Rob Coburn April 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Michael, our personality style have gea insight into what motivates us to be productive across most of life’s trials. Being a task oriented and direct person having deadlines and pressure is where I find comfort and creativity. I am so glad God created us differently so the world will run in some indoor sensible order. Thanks, @missioncoach

    • Reply Michael Good April 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

      Sounds like you’re somewhere in the D/C spectrum of the DISC profiles, Rob.

      I too have found learning more about my personality and those around to be a huge help. And, it’s a great point that the way we make decisions has a lot to do with our wiring. Thanks!

  • Reply Michael Wright April 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Michael, I think it’s been shown how much more productive and creative a person can be if they are not stressed being belief. Can you get your BEST work done when you’re anxious? I don’t think so. You can put out some fires that way, but you can’t do you most creative work with that mindset.

    I’ve found in my work life, that when I try to deal with those fires and problems when they first arise, and I am stressed out, especially at the end of the day, it’s a waste of time, most of the time. If I take some breaths, let it simmer and look at it the next day, many times the problem/issue is resolved on it’s own or gone away.

    • Reply Michael Good April 13, 2012 at 6:55 am

      That’s a really great approach! It sounds like that’s the difference between reacting and responding. I don’t want to react to a situation, I want to respond.

      I’m going to have to try your approach! I think it may work really well for me as well.

  • Reply robclinton April 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I am definitely more productive when I’m optimistic and grateful, but the stress of deadlines gets me moving too.

    This is somewhat a tough distinguish-er for me, and I think it all depends on the motivation. If I’m motivated by a goal, then I think there is a healthy stress to get there, but at the same time my optimism and grateful attitude that I’m moving forward helps me tremendously.

    It’s when I’m stressed over non-important matters that have nothing to do with the goal except for fixing quick leaks that slow me down, and make me fell unproductive. Great post!

    • Reply Michael Good April 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

      Thanks, Rob. I totally hear you! Having a deadline can really help me get motivated and get up and get going. It’s our approach that we have to be careful about. To not freakout but to get up and get going working towards that goal!

      • Reply robclinton April 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        Right on! Our approach is everything…

    Leave a Reply