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the dilemma with productivity

If you're in a place where you feel as if you have to perform, check off the list, or be everything for everyone and then find yourself drained by the depths of the future - this is for you.


Reminder #1: productivity (in it of itself) shouldn't be the top priority.

Obviously, to get things done and to get to where we want to be, the drive and accomplishing tasks is necessary.

Reminder #2: nothing really but a thank you for joining my "TED talk" today.

productivity is not required of you at every hour of the day every single day.

It wasn't too long ago when I had one of the rare days where I was able to pin point the pressure weighing down on me. I say rare because with the flurry of a brain I have, it's difficult to figure out what it is that causes me grief.

There was a grocery list on my phone, then another one on a piece of paper, then a standard "to-do" list on the back of an old napkin I stowed away in my purse.

Amidst planning out what my day would look like, I continued to pull out my phone to see if there were any Shipt or Instacart deliveries to be made - i.e., what can I physically "bring to the table".

Apparently nobody needs anything on a Wednesday.

"I have to get all of this done in order to have a good day, and be good as an extension of that" was the pressuring thought that replayed in my mind every time I reached for my list or my phone.

And it tends to be a common one.

It seems obvious now that this perspective won't lead me to the type of success I hunger for, what by measuring my actual worth based on the work I do.

Instead it broke me.

I feel like I failed.

I haven't done anything wrong - I just don't seem to have the "right" things to say, or do.

Is this what rest is supposed to be like?

After a good long cry in my car, I chased after a soft spoken gut feeling that I should do something that wasn't "homework".

Nothing even close to being "check" worthy.

So - I looked up the nearest bookstore.

Fun fact about me is I always wanted to be an avid reader - start early, influenced heavily by the enlightened reading competitions and thrilling scholastic book fairs taking place during the early school years.

But I fell off the grid after finishing the Junie B. Jones series.

Heading into high school and college I learned people openly admitted to reading for fun - and I thought it was the coolest thing.

However, I didn't know where to start, so I didn't.

Fast forward to today where I read maybe 2-3 books per year.

All that to say, the pull to go into a bookstore for the sake of feeling some relief was a new one.

And I liked that.

I was hungry for an escape - not necessarily from what good I had, rather from my anxious thoughts, the worry that I'm falling behind in a world that now seems to be so fast paced.

From what I knew about books, it's that they were a good place to escape.

So I went - unwashed hair in the messiest of top knots (and not the one where it's "cute messy", but actually turn away from the goblin messy), stained tank top, and visibly tired and puffy eyes.

I didn't know what to look for, really. So browsing it was.

While meandering through isles of books, I learned it's much more of a thrill to do this than to scroll online.

Lesson learned: I'm not a machine - and neither are you.

Just as doing the simple act of walking - through a store, in nature - connects us to reality and looking at forged images and edited stories online doesn't really.

Just as doing some things we need to do, and then others' that we don't because it'll drain us unnecessarily.

Yes, there are tasks and people that require our attention on a daily basis.

Bills have to be paid, some paper for school needs to be submitted, and a family member needs care.

The responsibility (in most cases) is not the problem.

It's how we perceive and take it all upon ourselves to solve it perfectly. In a short period of time, even. In the age we're in, it can seem as if you have to get things done in a short period of time or else it wasn't "worth it" or "good for you".

Perfection is not - and should have never been - the goals (yet some of us are wired to believe differently, myself included).

To do it well enough...

When we start to believe we are measured by the results, how good it turns out, when it's done, and how the person it impacts is left feeling...

Some of this we have control over, and some of it is impossible. So why weigh the measure of our worth on that?

Maybe it's because the world we live in is truly fast paced, anything outside that standard is "not normal" thus not okay.

But it is.

I mean, we deserve at least a little credit. We may have been raised to believe that staying productive or doing certain things are the ultimate goal.

If we believe our goals or purpose are going to be checked off, reached or even known in the same amount of time our Amazon Prime package arrives, we've fooled no one but ourselves.

Progress isn't something to be made into a competition - even with yesterday's version of you. Like grief - I've learned - progress comes in waves.

There's not always going to be a map on how to navigate it, where you're going next.

So we over crowd the lists or push away the "temporary" stresses without paying much attention.

"it's no big deal"

Then the burden of it all falls on us and we're taken by surprised.

End of story: we are not defined by the things we do.

The world of career, and the traditions of family may say otherwise.

No measure of what you do can determine who you are, they simply make up some of the parts, but certainly don't determine the whole. And you won't end up being all that productive when your focus is solely on becoming better based off of what you do.

Next time the pressure to be perfectly productive comes knocking on your heart, allow yourself to take slow movements, and remember that done is better than perfect.

So go tackle the what you need to on your list, and maybe sprinkle a few treats for yourself in the midst of getting the hard stuff done (like, I don't know, a donut or a walk outside. maybe both).

A healthy mix of should and want with regards to what you get done today is enough.

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