Productivity…It’s My New Dirty Word

It is amazing how as you grow up things that were said to you as a child can still haunt you. Words said as a joke or just off the cuff stay with you sometime even when you think they don’t. You know there was no harm meant and that the person that said it probably doesn’t even remember it but deep down, acknowledged or not, you do. For me that word was lazy and it wasn’t until I started taking a long look at my relationship with productivity that I really started to understand just how that word as affected me all these years.

You would think someone that is all about being productive and using your planner in a functional manner wouldn’t have a problem with productivity but alas I do. I don’t have a problem with getting things done but more with the idea that it’s never enough. It doesn’t matter how much I get done in a day or if I check off everything on my to-do list I still have this feeling that I didn’t do everything I should have and god forbid I get sick or have to take a day off. You might as well bring in the wine cause I’m going down in a blaze of glory.

The thing is that I know that I’m not lazy. Can I be lazy? Of course but so can most people. However, I know that when given a task I can complete it and I have never had a complaint about my work ethic on any job I have ever had. In fact most of my reviews have said that I go above and beyond. Yet now that I have my own business and I set my own hours it’s like if I don’t put in an eighteen hour day then I feel like I’m not being productive.

I love to read, always have. As a business owner I feel like it is part of my job to keep up with the trends and new information about my field. This requires reading books and blogs and websites galore but if I take more than an hour to read anything in a day I start to get that you aren’t being productive itch or even worse the word lazy dances around in my head like it’s doing the macarana to it’s own special beat. Which leads to the question of why? Why am I so hard on myself about having a “productive” day and the thing is that I know I’m not the only one.

How many times do we as women, wives, mother’s, business owner, and friends feel like we haven’t done enough? It’s like you can work a full day, put food on the table, do the laundry, all your mommy duties and wife duties but when you lay down I can bet there are so many of you that are thinking “did I do enough?”. It’s really a never ending cycle but I don’t think it is just a woman thing.

My cousin and I use to say that we were off to be a “productive member of society” almost all the time that we headed off to work. In our minds being productive meant that we were earning a money for a hard days work but is that really the only way to be a productive member of society?

Both Ghandi and Mother Teresa didn’t go off to the grindstone every day putting in hours of “the man” yet I don’t think there is anyone around that wouldn’t agree they did so much for our society and the world. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed in other people’s homes most of the time that he traveled and again I would argue that he was quite productive in his fight for civil rights. Who says that you need to be working or earning money each and every day of your life. I mean even God rested on the seventh day.

I think for me it is a matter of changing how I look at the word productivity as well as laziness. Sure it is okay to take time to care for yourself and to do absolutely nothing. Matter of fact, I recommend it from time to time. It is also important to be productive. To work hard and earn what you need for yourself and your family but it’s when we get to the point where it’s all we can think about that I think we need to step back.

While listening to a workshop the other day I head two words that really resonated with me, accomplishment and follow through. For me going forward I am going to not be looking so much at if I had a productive day but more if I accomplished what I needed to do and followed through on what is important. Because when it is all said and done, that is the most lasting part. Not how much you made or how many things you could do but that you left a legacy of how you did what was important and the grace you showed while accomplishing it.

Have you found yourself going down the productivity spiral? Do you push yourself too hard to get too many things done? Have you found your own way of coping with your own issues around pushing yourself to hard? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below.

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