“You don’t have to work all the time.”
That’s something my grandmother told me after only living with her for two days. I had just finished lunch, and gone to vacuuming all the carpet downstairs, and then determinedly moved on to sweeping the entrance’s wood floors. I had been obsessively running around completing tasks for the last half hour and she had noticed.
It took me a second, but I came to the conclusion maybe my grandmother was right: maybe I didn’t have to work all the time.
But I’m doing it because I want to, I told myself.
Are you really? Said that annoying little voice called conscience.
And I realized something:
I was working because I felt the need to. Not because I wanted to. Not even because it had to be done right away (it needed to be done, of course, but it could wait). I was doing it because I felt like I had to.
Some personalities gain their self-worth from what they do. And if anything is clear to me about myself, it’s that I’m one of those personalities.
I always have to be working. I always have to be productive. And if that productivity isn’t visible, did it really happen? Was it really productive? I need to have visible proof to prove I did something.
And by the way, who am I doing this for? Who do I need to prove myself to? Myself? My grandmother? I already know, at least in my head, that I am good enough (although I can always get better). Then who do I need to prove to?
Most of these “productive” things I do go unnoticed by others. I’m the only one who is an audience to them. Sweeping. Cleaning. Going for a walk every day.
Some people pick up on it. Most do not. And yet, I always feel the need to prove myself, at least to something.
What I’m realizing is productivity is good. It’s healthy. But when your need for productivity becomes obsessive, or obligatory, you’re losing the joy in life.
Yes, I may be productive.
But how is my quality of life? Am I stressed? Am I not sleeping well at night?
Is it worth it?
Is this constant grind of activities making me a better person, or just run down?
That’s a personal question, and the answer will be different for each individual.
Some people constantly working find their joy in it. Others, have a strong need for rest after a day of work.
There’s a difference between rest and laziness. Sitting on the couch all afternoon watching TV is lazy; relaxing with a drink and a movie after being on your feet all day is rest.
Understand that work is good for you. It keeps you healthy. Being productive is important. But when it gets in the way of joy, it’s not worth it. When you are unhappy, run down and stressed because you have been doing too much, that’s when you need to rest.
And understand rest is not giving up. Rest is accepting that your body has limitations, and you need to allow yourself to take that time to recover. Once again, this is different for every individual. Some people can run off of five hours of sleep; some need eight or nine. Understand it’s not a weakness; it’s simply how you function.
I’m realizing that productivity does not mean “here’s a list of things I accomplished this week and that’s why I’m productive”. Productive simply means producing: it doesn’t mean it’s always visible.
It could be spending an hour reading articles about a particular topic because that produced a better knowledge in you. It could be taking the time to eat lunch with a friend because it produces a better relationship. It could be going to bed early so you can wake up a little earlier and be a more productive you.
Production takes many forms. Understand it’s not just your job where you’re productive.
You can be productive anywhere you are.
You just have to decide to work, rest and then choose to be productive, in whatever form that may take.
How did you accomplish being productive today? And what are you doing to rest?