“I have zero motivation.” That was the text I received this morning from a dear friend.
She hasn’t been sleeping well and was feeling down on herself for not getting more accomplished lately.
The kicker is, she’s a nurse. During a global pandemic. Visiting COVID19 positive patients. Working with the poorest excuse for protective equipment imaginable (one mask per day, no face shield, no helpers to decontaminate after a patient visit, etc.). Not seeing her kids for weeks out of fear of infecting them.
“Maybe being a nurse during a global pandemic is enough.” was my reply.
We all need permission to end our obsession with productivity.
I’ve been doing it to myself as well, thinking I should write more, exercise more, cook more, clean more, reach out to friends more, read more, earn more, create more, and on and on.
Can we please end our obsession with productivity?
For me, and for my good friend, we just need an occasional reminder that we don’t need to be producing all the damn time.
(This post isn’t for people who are willfully ignoring their responsibilities, it’s for the vast numbers of us who are driven to always do more. Deep down you know which camp you fall in.)
There’s a time to be productive, and there’s a time for rest and regeneration.
Farmers let their fields go fallow. Animals hibernate. Tides ebb and flow. Trees shed their leaves. It’s part of nature’s cycle to balance times of energy, growth, creativity, and production with times of rest.
When we ignore the down cycles and try to force production all the time, it comes at the cost of burnout, frustration, mistakes, and unhappiness.
We’re not born with an obsession for productivity hard wired into our brains.
Over time we learned our obsession with productivity. The idea that we have to be productive all the time is a created belief drilled into us by multiple facets of society.
Instead, observe our natural state by observing young children. They’re motivated by curiosity, and wonderment. Then they nap. Yes, they react positively to praise and accomplishment, but they’re just as happy entertaining themselves by staring at clouds or rolling down a hill.
Little by little, over time, kids are taught to do more and do better. The seeds for an obsession with productivity begin to take root.
Counteract the drive to always be productive.
- Give yourself permission to take some mental time off. I like to do that with purpose, so it actually feels more like a break and less like a lost day. It can be a set time each day, a day of the week, or a longer prescribed break.
- Remind yourself what your wins were at the end of each day. Even when you’re not feeling very motivated, I bet there’s something you feel good about at the end of each day.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Spreading yourself a mile wide but an inch deep is going to leave you feeling like you never get anything accomplished. Identify one thing that will feel like a win at the end of the day. If it’s as simple as folding the laundry, and you got it done, that’s enough.
- Remember that you’re already good enough. Whether you’re being productive or not, you’re good enough right now. At the core of your being, your spiritual nature, you always are good enough.
No more judgment.
If you feel like producing something, go for it. Production can be fun and rewarding. If you don’t feel like producing something, then don’t. There’s no need to feel bad about it.
I know given some time, you’ll feel like producing again. And because you rested, your future production will flow with more ease and success.
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All images open source form pixabay.com.