It is funny that I am writing about this particular topic because I actually struggle with the need to be productive more than most people. Maybe as I write this blog to shed some light on it in your life it will help me finally release it in mine.
We as a culture put pressure on ourselves to be “productive” as if the person who is the “busiest” is winning. We all complain about being so busy, overwhelmed and stressed out constantly, yet we never take the time (or in my case) feel comfortable just being.
A few years ago when I was in a hard place in my life with relationships and work I used to find so much satisfaction in cleaning my house. It was a way for me to have some control over my life situation and feel good about myself. Looking back that seems so silly that doing something like cleaning my house made me feel productive and therefore a good person. Now I still have a very clean home but I don’t get much satisfaction out of actually cleaning it. It is more of a means to an end. Not a gauge of how productive I am or to see how many good virtue points I could rack up.
At this point in my life I really am much busier than before with the addition of a baby. But on days where I don’t have a ton on my to-do list I still feel like I need to fill up every moment with some sort of errand, organizing, cleaning, etc. I feel lazy if I have minutes in my day that are not jam packed.
Ironically, I wait all day to have a free moment to myself when the baby is in bed and dinner is done. I finally sit on the couch to watch some mindless TV and what do I do? Look at my phone the whole time the TV is on. I can’t just sit on the couch without feeling like I need to do multiple things at once and get caught up on news and social media. Why is this need for “business” so engrained in our behavior? Is there really that much to do or am I just dramatizing everyday life?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many days when I get outside and hike or bike but even those activities feel rushed and almost obligatory. I know that exercise, fresh air and nature are good for me in many ways so I make getting out a priority. But I find myself not being present in these moments because I am going over my to-do list or trying to plan out my next few hours and how I will fit it all in.
I need to take a page out of my dad’s book and implement what he calls “piece of shit days” where he does nothing all day but read and watch TV. He is a very busy man with work and family and it is smart of him to take the time to recharge his batteries when he is not obligated to be somewhere. However, he will mention to me that he feels guilty after one of these days which is obvious by the name he has given for his down time. Maybe he should call them “R&R” days instead and he wouldn’t feel so guilty!
What it comes down to is that our lives are very task oriented and those tasks are never going to go away. We just need to just focus on one thing at a time and take care of what needs to be done with as much ease and grace as possible. We need to stop glorifying “business” and realize that no one is keeping score of how much we have on our plate. Finally, we need to realize that being productive does not equal success and that taking time to let joy, play and stillness into our lives will always lead to more happiness and health. This summer let’s vow to stop feeling guilty when we are not being productive!
Am I the only one that struggles with this? How do you find the time to rejuvenate? Are you able to relax and not feel guilty about it?