Being Productive

March 16, 2014

Sometimes I follow the path of the unproductive. It is hard for me to leave the internet alone. It started in high school, when I first got my own computer in my room. Every morning for the second half of my senior year I would check in on AOL after my shower. It’s always been a waste of time, and it’s something I hear a lot about when I tune in to the minimalist/mindfulness communities. I even saw an article recently about the one thing productive people don’t do first thing in the morning: check email. I agree that time spent online first thing in the morning is time that likely could be better spent. I find myself taking issue with this article and this mindset in general, though, because of the insistent use of the word productive. I suppose using “productive” in the title draws in readers. We live in a very competitive era; our presence online compounds this. There’s a lot of value placed on getting ahead making a name for yourself.

Personally, when I start to think about life in terms of maximizing my productivity, it amps up my anxiety and fills my head with “shoulds” and I start to have a hard time being still and giving myself permission to do nothing. This is a problem because I’ve found that I’m at my most creative when I have space for unstructured time in my day; space to write, to practice yoga or just sit quietly, spaced to settle in and become present. Most often, since I’m a morning person, I find the space in the morning before my husband wakes up. I try to use this time to do things I wouldn’t do when he’s awake. Things like writing and yoga. Things that feed my spirit and help me find the best version of myself. Things that help me set mindful and present tone for my day. And yes, sometimes I still get sucked into my computer. Sometimes I get hijacked by my to-do list, but if I allowed my productivity to be my priority, my to do list would dominate me. When you live by to-do lists, there’s always more to add, always more to get done.

So, starting today, I’m going to try to remove productive for my day-to-day vocabulary I’m setting my sites on presence. We are made to thrive on our work drive on work that resonates with us and fills us, but we’ve been programmed to believe that busy is better. From now on, when I feel like I’ve made huge strides in my business in one day I’m going to call fulfilling instead of productive. When I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of things out of the way, maybe things I didn’t want to do or things I’ve been putting off, I’ll call it clean slate day. When Jack and I have a day full of adventures, that should be exciting, joyful, and memorable, not productive. I want every day with Jack to feel like that. Sharing our love, sharing the adventure. Not producing or reducing our time to a measure of how much we can get done. Productive has become a blanket term; by eliminating it we can be more specific, nuanced, and celebratory with our language, and, consequently, more honest in our communication.

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