On Productivity (And Why We All Need To Chill Out)


It’s not news to anyone that I am a bit of an overachiever. I do a lot of things and feel constantly driven to do more and to do better. Over the last couple of months, I’ve had increasing health issues that sometimes make it harder to accomplish what I would like to. Often, my inability to finish tasks fills me with guilt and anger. This is ridiculous, and I know it. I’m ill, I deserve a break. But it is ingrained in me to work more and work harder, no matter what.

So I’ve been thinking about productivity. What it means, how it matters, and why I find myself caring about it.

Okay, so capitalism is this bullshit mandatory deal between companies and workers. I sell the company my labor, the company gives me money and that allows me to participate in capitalism. I am a “productive member of society.”

When we’re young, adults ask us questions like, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re trained from infancy to participate in this labor system. And we’re told that it is somehow going to fulfill our dreams and desires.

This is just simply not the case.

For the sake of this blog let’s say fine, okay, deal. But there are still 128 hours in the week we have as “leisure” (and sleep) time. As capitalism has progressed we’ve created more and more things to fill this time with. Gym, concerts, soccer practice, art galleries, museums, parties. These are the things that often give meaning to our life – not our work – and rightly so.

This pressure to make meaning in our lives is consuming. From relationships to hobbies to exercise to this that and the next we find ourselves constantly running out of time. We’re expected to be doing and producing every available moment of the day. When is the last time you did nothing? Seriously. No TV, no music, no task, but just sit or stayed quietly with yourself?

This culture of non-stop productivity has me standing here doing something I call spaghetti blogging. It’s when you make and eat spaghetti while you’re blogging. I laugh, but I’m doing it because of this incessant need to produce. To prove to myself and the world that I deserve this life I have been given.

I’ll take this blog as an opportunity to remind myself, and you, that the world keeps turning whether we write that blog or see that friend or make that squash. The world is a pretty hard place to live in, and it’s even harder when we’re not gentle with ourselves.