Are You A Productivity Tortoise? Or Hare?

Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.


Photo by wwarby

The the famous fable by Aesop, a hare challenges a tortoise to a race. As the race progresses, the rabbit works in spurts, getting sidetracked at various points, always telling himself he is far ahead and still has time to win. The tortoise plods along, set on his course, never deviating, taking slow step after slow step.

In the end the tortoise wins.

But does this hold true in productivity?

The Tortoise

In productivity, the tortoise is the one who keeps chipping away at projects and goals, a little at a time, never deviating. He makes progress, albeit slow, but always progress. There are no breaks.

The tortoise knows what course he is on, and the next step he must take to go a bit further. Every day.

The Hare

In productivity, the hare is one who makes rapid progress on a project or goal, and then sets it aside for a time while he does something else.

The hare knows the end course, and knows the path to get there. The hare works in spurts, making rapid progress before turning aside to do something else.

How To Harness The Power Of Both

I know many productivity experts will tell you “little and often”, which is essentially the tortoise mentality. However, I don’t believe that should be the only approach.

I believe that there is a time and place for both approaches.

Using the Tortoise

When you have a large project that can be done it little bits, it is easy to be a tortoise. You can do a bit every time you think about it and make large overall progress toward your goal.

It is also a really good method if you are procrastinating, and just need to get something done. Pick a little bit, do it, and you have started the project; you can then build on that progress to get the whole thing done.

I use this method to get a large amount of writing done, or working on a large craft project. I also do it when I need to get started on something, or I have let something sit too long.

Using the Hare

But if you are involved in a project that has a lot of setup or cleanup time, this can be hard to do in little bits. Or if you are working on something that you just need to finish. Or if you are completely inspired and in the flow.

These are the times to become the rabbit and sprint it to the end.

If your project has a lot of setup or cleanup, set it up once, do as much as you can, and then clean it up.

If you are just about done with the project, and a little burst will get you over the finish line, do it. Sprint it out and finish it up.

If you are in the zone of creative flow and everything is coming easily, enjoy the presence of the Muse while you have her and get as much done as possible. You never know when Flo will grace you again.

I use this method when I am painting a room, trying to bring an article to closure, or when I am inspired (I wrote an e-book this way).


While slow and steady may get things done, sometimes I am not convinced it is the best way. What do you think? Are you total tortoise or hare? Or do you mix? Share below.


Photo by wwarby

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