Busyness doesn't equal to being productive

Perfection doesn’t exist and why we need to stop stressing about being productive in every waking moment

With the pandemic ongoing, more people are creating new businesses like baking pastries and meal deliveries in the comfort of their homes. I’m sure your friends are inviting you to like their business’ Facebook page, to which I say, please support them!

But with the surge of Instagram stories and Facebook posts from our friends using their time effectively, some of us don’t feel as accomplished given the free time. 

There are those stressed about having to be productive every day while under quarantine, and I’ll admit that I’ve felt the pressure as well. Ironic, as I write this as a way to feel as though I’ve done something for the day. 

But therein lies the problem: doing something just for the sake of being productive is not good for your mental health.

If you’re down in the dumps and constantly worry about not living up to society’s expectations, I’m hoping that you’ll find some time to read and learn something out of this that might help change the way you see your value and why doing less can actually lead to you being more fulfilled.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’m guilty of this.

My friend works in a position that is regarded as well above his expertise. But because of how good he is at his previous job, he got hired at a well-established company. He accomplished so much in half a decade, and I’m really proud of him. At the same time, I can’t help but compare myself relative to where he was at my age.

But life is not a race to the finish line where the winner is deemed “successful”.

We feel pressured because of the thought of needing to live up to the standard we set in our heads, telling ourselves that we’re worthless when we don’t become as successful as them, and failing to do so leaves us with disappointment and envy.

Everyone’s life follows a different pattern with various meanings to what is considered a success. Therefore, comparing your progress to someone else’s won’t benefit you in any way and will only bring discouragement.

You’re not competing with others, and the only competition that matters is becoming better against your past self.

Realize it’s crucial to give yourself time to relax

While we have more time to focus on our goals, not everyone has the privilege to start working immediately on passion projects or the capacity to launch a business. 

We’re being told to be more productive, which is an unhealthy and potentially harmful message at a time where fewer people have jobs and less money, all the while worrying about how they’ll be able to survive and pay the bills. 

For people like me who’s fortunate enough to still have a job, we may find ourselves not working to the best of our ability, and that’s completely normal. Aside from having to work from home, we also have to think of doing important errands like grocery shopping and bill payments.

With grocery stores and banks having limited operating hours, we now have to take them into consideration when planning our daily lives. The time allotted into these errands interrupt work schedules, and people are finding themselves working more than before.

Coupled with the daily number of deaths and widespread infection from the virus, and it’s no surprise people are less motivated to be more productive. They aren’t doing any good for our mental health, which is why you should devote your mental energy to activities you enjoy.

This can include your hobbies, watching Netflix all day, or even just talking to friends and family. Anything that allows your brain to not worry can really help improve your mental health.

For me, I started learning how to draw — something I’ve always wanted but couldn’t find time in doing. Devoting my attention to drawing since then has reduced anxiety from work and filtered out all the worries I have in my head and feel more fulfilled.

When it comes to being productive, less is more

Often we focus too much on the number of things we want to do—whether at work, at home or any other area of our lives—we tend to be overwhelmed and unable to keep track of all them at once, resulting in feeling less effective at managing time.

Productivity experts agree that focusing on fewer goals with more value to you can provide the most impact, fulfillment, and accomplishment. 

In a Harvard Business Review article from Kate Northrup, she leads to the same conclusion: focusing less on things that don’t get you results and merely drain your energy can give you more time for stuff that matters. 

For example, as a blogger, I tend to look into the details of my blog’s appearance and not enough on content that’s actually providing value. Once I realized this, messing around with the blog took a backseat, and writing became the priority.

By placing our attention on fewer tasks, we spend less time stressing on those that unimportant and more on tasks that significantly help toward achieving our goals.

Conclusion

When you see other people getting the most out of their day, that’s not a standard for productivity. Your worth is not based on how productive you are, and your mental health is not worth sacrificing if it’s just to tell yourself you did something today.

We’re finally given leisure and are allowed to spend it however we want, away from the “hustle” culture society promotes. Pay no attention to anyone that pressures and calls you lazy, because being busy does not equate to success.

Make yourself happy by immersing yourself in activities that you want to do. Read a book, cook your favorite meal, spend time with friends and family, or just sleep the whole day (my personal recommendation). It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it has a positive effect on your mental health.

And hey — if you feel like you’re capable of doing more, go for it! Keep doing what you need to do to survive. Just remember to leave some room for “me time” and do the things that bring you joy. 

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