Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant need and pressure to be productive and all that it entails? I certainly do. I’ve decided to write this post after a rather slow (and slightly hungover) weekend during which I did NOT get everything done on my ‘to do’ list and I’m feeling super guilty. A post to justify my inactivity, hey?
It’s almost impossible nowadays to get away from productivity since pretty much everyone is tweeting, instagramming or facebooking (and blogging?!) about it. Every day, I open an Instagram story from either a close friend or an influencer detailing everything they got done that day or how many things they’ve checked off their ‘to do’ list. Everyone feels the need to shout about their own productivity and achievement. As with all social media pressure these days, this kind of online boasting can make you feel inferior and ultimately, UNPRODUCTIVE. The pressure is only added to by the existence of productivity help and advice books / articles.
Don’t get me wrong, I love productivity and I am fully aware it is almost impossible to be successful without it or at a basic level, get through life. It’s pretty excellent that the internet is promoting it and it is a great inspiration for my generation. However, sometimes the pressure is just too much and not really necessary.
I’d probably say productivity (and in connection, achievement) pressure levels were at an all-time high in my three years at university. Towards the end and especially around exam periods, it was almost as if it was a competition to get the most work done and spend the most hours in the library. Of course, you may say, surely this is just the nature of the beast? Being productive at university is certainly conducive to success and the competition is almost inevitable when surrounded by high achieving and extremely bright people at all times. However, I made the mistake of trying so hard to be productive that it probably had a negative effect. I remember that we would all wake up unnecessarily early to race to library and then spend a ridiculously long time there.
Honestly, I hate to think how many of those hours in the library were actually productive and effective. My friends and I would burn ourselves out so days would come around where we actually couldn’t bring ourselves to work and would treat ourselves to self-care days or go out drinking excessively, then ruin the day after. I often think that if we had had more balance and structure in our approach to work, we would have been able to incorporate self-care etc. into our daily routines more efficiently and not need to take time out for it. Without a doubt, I’ve learnt from those mistakes and I definitely approach productivity in the sense of work more realistically now.
However, leaving university and the work void that has followed, has presented yet another issue of productivity for me.
Since I’m on a gap year now and only working temporarily before I go travelling, I have been feeling the relentless burden of productivity constantly, considerably influenced by social media. It probably doesn’t help that my job varies significantly in busyness levels, so if it’s particularly quiet day I tend to fear my lack of achievement and ‘getting stuff done’. The thought of relaxing or being too leisurely almost scares me, because I’m always thinking: what can I be doing instead to be productive? Or that I don’t deserve to relax as my job isn’t high powered or I’m not involved in a variety of different projects, which is just a completely stupid thought. I’ve decided to get myself a second job on the side, probably (almost definitely) from an innate desire to increase productivity levels.
If I’m completely honest, this blog is somewhat an expression of productivity. I definitely thought initially that writing and being creative on the internet is being productive in some form and so far, it does give me this feeling and also a sense of achievement – which is great! Nonetheless, I get stressed about my unproductivity blog wise if I’m not constantly writing blog posts or engaging with twitter. It’s a never ending cycle…
Even as I write this blog post, I’m confused about my current stance on productivity. I think for me, it is like Marmite: I love it and I hate it. It certainly has its place and a little pressure and competition is healthy for success, but I just wish it wasn’t shoved down our throats so that we all feel crap if we have one unproductive day. It is actually OK to rest and relax!
I’m going to sign out now, as you’ve probably read the dreaded word productivity enough times in this post to last you a lifetime…