Do we really need to be productive ALL the time?

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It seems that we as humans have this thing for productivity. We like to pack as much activity and accomplishment in a day as we possibly can. In fact, many of us feel guilty if we’ve had a day when we don’t tick everything off our lists, and time to ourselves, no matter how short-lived, feels painfully unproductive.

But, guess what? The idea of productivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And now we’re all trying to adjust to spending so much time at home while also caring for our families and looking out for our communities, the idea of carrying on with ‘business as usual’ and the pressure to fill your time becomes harder to ignore. 

It’s fair to say that when the world is slowly descending into the unknown a familiar routine can be a welcome respite: staying in touch with loved ones and FaceTiming friends. Starting your day with a (socially distant) run. Cooking up your favourite recipe for dinner. But more work, believe it or not, is not the answer – and neither is more needless productivity.

It’s tough enough to keep up productivity in the best of times, let alone now. The idea that we have so much extra time available during the day now is great, but in reality it’s the opposite of a luxury. We’re staying home because we have to stay home, and we have much less attention because of the added stress and worry that the these past few weeks have brought with it.

Sure, we still need to meet our deadlines and be productive sometimes, but an obsession with productivity is unhealthy. When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax. Let go of the need to be hyper-efficient. Stop feeling guilty about enjoying yourself.

The coming weeks should be a time to prioritise ourselves, our communities, and our loved ones when we can. It should be a time to embrace those moments of calm where you’re doing nothing rather than fill them with mindless tasks, because it’s these moments that can help you feel grounded and get some well-deserved me-time. 

However you choose to be unproductive, it should come without the accompanying feeling of guilt or panic caused by society telling you that you should be doing more as the rest of your world slowly cranks to a halt. 

So there you have it. You don’t have to write that novel. You don’t have to reorganise your cupboards. Burying yourself in mindless work is not the solution. 

It’s time we all gave ourselves a bit of a break.

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