When Productivity Becomes a Toxic Push

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You try to make the most of every spare minute – make it the most productive. But sometimes the greatest boost to productivity you can give is just to do nothing productive at all.

Seriously. The ability to be productive in any spare second of breathing room requires a very particular personality. That type is – thankfully for the rest of us – rare, but somehow we still hold up that image as the epitome of all we should be and what we should be doing.

I hate ‘should’s.

I have a tiny human growing in my belly, which distracts me constantly. Perhaps I’m not actively doing anything, but the sheer fact of it requires a ridiculous amount of brainpower. Adjusting to this fact has proved a challenge over and over

Why is my post so late this week? Because my sister who had so many intentions for 4th of July celebrations asked me over the weekend what we’re doing for the holiday. Cue panic and scrambling and an exercise of my ability to make executive decisions.

She’s also insisting on planning my baby shower. Baby showers don’t usually pull together overnight, I’m due in just over three months, and she hasn’t started. Guess who’s planning contingencies?

None of this feels creatively productive. If I’m not writing, revising, or working on workshop planning, I get frustrated because of this ridiculous idea that every spare minute goes to productivity. And “spare minute” in my world tends to be any time outside of the day job.

But that’s not healthy. I can’t leave my family to fend for themselves, however much I wish I could, and I want to be the healthiest person I can be for myself and my little one. This means I need downtime and self-care. Sometimes the only way I can cross things off the endless to-do list is to first sit down and stare blankly at a screen.

Sometimes I sit down to write and fall asleep before I write a word. This isn’t a lack of productivity, much as it might feel that way. This is my body telling me I’ve done too much or spread myself too thin. This is my body saying, “No more.”

But I didn’t have this mechanism pre-pregnancy. Then, I spread myself thinner and thinner until something gave – most often in the form of a breakdown.

And your limits are a moving target. They vary depending on an endless number of factors. Try to be mindful of them and respect them. You can occasionally disregard them,  but they will catch up to you, so make sure that whatever you’re doing is worth the tradeoff.

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