We all struggle with this problem. Our arms sometimes can’t reach the wind-up key in our backs to propel ourselves forward. We find ourselves in a rut. We ask ourselves, “Why can’t I be productive?”
Of course there are many answers on the web that make a lot of sense. For example, I definitely have perfectionist tendencies. Worrying something won’t be perfect, I don’t bother to start. But the other day, I reached a conclusion about some thoughts I’ve been having for quite a long time.
I always had a complex relationship with time and the concept of “wasting time.” I grew up believing that this or that was a waste of time. I came to this conclusion that time is some precious currency that I must never squander. Of course, what ends up happening is that I’m so scared of wasting time on something that I end up wasting time anyway… by not doing anything.
While I always knew that was a problem with me, I was able to tighten up this idea in a different sense. I noticed a few days ago that I was overcome with a feeling of guilt when I wanted to do something that I thought or knew wouldn’t give any results or have any purpose. Guilt is an emotion I struggle with a lot. And productivity is a word that is quite troublesome.
I knew I had more “urgent” or “important” things to do. For example, sitting down to plan out and write blog posts topped my priority list. However, I started feeling like things like these, even though I enjoyed them, became tasks. And who wants to do tasks? I wanted to do something else, like dreamily type out a novel or sketch a portrait. However, the former is a long-term project and the latter is not something I want to pursue professionally. These projects and hobbies then become things I feel guilty for pursuing or doing, like I’m wasting time when there are other “more important” things to do. Is ignoring an errand to draw out a doodle “productive”? I tell myself, “No, I must do this errand,” then waste away dreading it.
It’s a harmful cycle. And I came to the conclusion that the key is to indulge in those hobbies or activities. They feel like such wastes of time, but they’re not–they’re forms of self-care, and self-care is never a waste of time. They say you can’t pour from an empty cup, and that’s what I become after tackling task after task and putting all my other interests to the side–even though this interests encompass who I am. It’s as if I’m rejecting these other parts of me, and that’s why I end up feeling incomplete–too incomplete to pull myself together to tackle anything else. I am a creative writer. I am an artist. I’m a creative person all-around.
I have to indulge my creative self. Even if there is no end result or anything to gain. Even though I never end up completing a novel, I will never complete one if I won’t let myself even try again. I won’t sell any portraits, but I’ve drawn since I could pick up a pencil. I’m no piano virtuoso (Asian genes, you have failed me!) but I like banging away at the keys to some of my favorite Joe Hisaishi soundtracks.
The key is to indulge these “minor” and “trivial” tasks, no matter what other people say. I get self-conscious about looking like I’m wasting time or idling away. I feel like I’m judged. Even if I tried to explain, others wouldn’t understand or even want to hear me out, so there’s no point.
But there’s no point to doing nothing, either. You’re idling away, wasting away. You don’t have the energy to cross stuff off your to-do list because you’re ignoring your other list, the one of things you actually want to do. It’s the curse of the hustle life. People are obsessed with hustling, being busy, crossing things off their to-do list. Anything else feels like a waste of time.
This is counterintuitive! You will end up being more productive in the long-run by just doing something–and something you love–right now! You know you want to!Whatever makes you happy and gives you the energy to carry on is not a waste of time. Click To Tweet
You’ll feel more productive, you’ll feel fulfilled. You don’t need any other results except that catharsis from releasing your feelings and your guilt about who you are, indulging, expressing, and being happy. Once you’re done with that, you will have more energy and motivation to tackle whatever you do have to because adulting calls for it.Our generation is so obsessed with being productive that we don't know how to not be busy. Click To Tweet
I know some people suggest tackling the big projects first, and that makes sense, but I think sometimes, you have to reward yourself by hyping yourself up first. By warming up. Sometimes, when I have writer’s block, I turn to my other blog, where I free-write without censure or much editing. Once I start, I usually can’t stop, and then I feel so inspired and energized to move onto this blog and take on a topic in a more structured format. It’s a tag team effort from my two blogs.
So if you ever feel like you need to get so much stuff done, but you really just want to suddenly make a bird house or put together a puzzle, go for it. Embrace it as some much-needed me-time rather than procrastination. Unless you do this too often for something you really don’t care about. Then that’s definitely procrastination!
Don’t say you don’t have the time to do something like building that bird house you always wanted to make for the fountain in your backyard. You know you’re going to waste that time on something else, anyway. You’re going to get nothing done because you feel too guilty to do something you want to do and feel no motivation for the things you don’t want to do. Fix one, and that’ll fix the other!
I honestly don’t know how much this makes sense but… I don’t care! Sometimes this gallant gal’s just gotta leave a letter of love to herself.
Leave your own thoughts down below!