At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I used to be on a Zoom name feeling flustered and overwhelmed when considered one of my colleagues assured me I used to be doing my “pandemic best.” Like many perfectionists, overachievers, and workaholics, I used to be decided to take advantage of out of my newfound down time with out realizing that hey, surviving a worldwide pandemic is greater than sufficient.
My colleague’s variety phrases made me smile as a result of I was doing my pandemic greatest. To examine my productiveness and creativity to pre-pandemic instances was merely outrageous and borderline harmful. Yet, right here I’m, three years later reverting to my previous methods and getting pissed off with myself once I don’t have a “productive day.” You know, those the place you’re firing on all cylinders, crossing gadgets off your to-do record left and proper and every little thing you contact turns into editorial gold.
Lately, these days have been few and much in between. Admittedly, quite a bit has modified in these final three years. I’ve switched jobs (twice) and gave delivery to a wonderful daughter who’s now a spirited toddler. I additionally wrote an entire e book!
So as a substitute of crossing off 10 gadgets on my unending to-do record, I sometimes get round to 1 or two, if I’m fortunate—with “keep tiny human alive” being the first one. My productiveness (or, somewhat, the shortage thereof) appears to be like completely different now and I’m making an attempt my greatest to not burn each ends of the candle (although e book deadlines demand in any other case). Moreover, I’m slowly beginning to settle for that not solely is unproductivity okay, it’s additionally not a mirrored image of my worthiness as an individual.
There is an immense quantity of stress in our tradition to carry out and produce in any respect hours over the day. We’re inspired to squeeze each ounce of productiveness out of the work day after which flip round and do the identical in our private lives. No marvel we’re a society of stressed, burned out, and in any other case unwell people.
I’m reminded of a New York Times article late final 12 months that simulated software program used to measure employees’ productiveness. I occurred to have been consuming breakfast once I was scrolling by means of the article and obtained pinged with a “We can tell you’re idling” notification once I stopped to load extra oatmeal onto my spoon. Is this what we’ve come to? Deducting factors when somebody pauses for a bit to nourish their our bodies?
Welcome, of us, to the world of poisonous productiveness—an incessant must at all times be productive, usually on the expense of your psychological, bodily and emotional well being. I’m of the idea that productiveness by itself isn’t inherently damaging, somewhat it’s the glorification of productiveness above all else that’s problematic. If you’re continuously doing—attending conferences; churning out tales; touring for work—you allow your self little to no down time to pause, mirror and relaxation. You run the chance of burning out and working your self into the bottom. No one desires to be labeled lazy, particularly not at work. But is that idea of laziness essentially a nasty factor?
Last summer time I learn social psychologist Dr. Devon Price’s Laziness Does Not Exist. I’ll be sincere, I used to be a bit skeptical concerning the premise and the title alone challenged some preconceived notions I had relating to productiveness and laziness. But Price argues within the e book that laziness is a social assemble designed to make us really feel unproductive and unworthy. And I’ve actually fallen sufferer to its ugly lure.
In an interview with NPR, Price mentioned, “Laziness is usually a warning sign from our bodies and our minds that something is not working. The human body is so incredible at signaling when it needs something. But we have all learned to ignore those signals as much as possible because they’re a threat to our productivity and our focus at work.”
When I hear that, I feel again to a phrase I first heard throughout a yoga class: “we’re human beings, not human doings.” We have been born to daydream, to float, to create, to marvel and to wander. What we weren’t constructed to do, within the phrases of Rihanna, is figure, work, work, work, work.
At the identical time I acknowledge that previous habits die laborious and, with out wholesome boundaries in place and ample function fashions of relaxation, it’s simple to at all times do “just one more thing.” Cross off yet one more merchandise on our to-do record. Respond to 1 extra e-mail in our overwhelming inboxes. I ought to know, I’ve been residing and dealing this manner for the final 15 years—much more in the event you rely by extremely bold educational days.
What I crave greater than something is to get again to a childlike state of relaxation and marvel, and I’m grateful to have a task mannequin and accountability buddy in my 16-month-old daughter who likes to learn, snicker, dance and observe her strolling up and down our hallway. She’s not being lazy by lounging about and consuming her Cheerios. She doesn’t need to earn her relaxation or proper to exist. And neither do I.
Unlearning productiveness goes to take some severe observe, however I’m sure it’s attainable. For starters, it appears to be like like really dragging myself away from my desk to eat lunch and unplugging whereas I’m at it to pay attention to a couple chapters of Spare or take a bit of psychological well being stroll. It appears to be like like assembly up with my greatest buddy for espresso each week. It appears to be like like not making an attempt to cram each errand and exercise into one weekend and deliberately taking time to do…nothing.
There is magnificence in having an empty calendar. We don’t at all times need to be “on.” Hustle tradition can wait (or, higher but, it will possibly die a fast demise altogether). We are greater than our work and our productiveness doesn’t need to outline our value. Let’s give unproductivity a strive.
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