Being Productively Unproductive

I used to beat myself up for being unproductive. I struggle with being okay with sitting around the house surfing the web and watching old episodes of my favorite TV shows sometimes. Minimal productivity is something that I have learned to accept. Getting up the motivation to do housework is very difficult sometimes but I have learned that if I do one thing a day, even if it’s something small, I don’t feel racked with guilt for not doing anything around the house. So, while I watch TV I fold a load of laundry or I clean off one surface or I do one load of dishes. I try not to look at the mounds of work that I have to do, otherwise I feel overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, and then my motivation goes out the window.

Our society focuses on productivity. People who don’t get something done every day are considered lazy. Mothers don’t take time for themselves because they feel guilty for not being productive.

This article suggests that the reason that we try so hard to be productive is because we aren’t happy with the way things are in the present. (Aha! Another reference to mindfulness.) We reject the way things are so we try our hardest to change it. Many things we can change. We can work really hard to get more money and move up in the company that we work. We can make our homes spotless. We can do everything to try to change our present but something has to give eventually.

I try to be productive by working and doing housework. During the school year I even do my homework. However, I do not do so much that I overwhelm myself. I have realized that my mental and emotional well-being is more important than a spotless house or a lot of money in a savings account. If that means I am “lazy” then so be it. My home isn’t spotless but it is nice enough to have guests over. My savings account has no money in it right now but my bills are paid. I do enough to get by and sometimes I feel an urge to do more. I am working on remaining grateful for my life as it is right now. I look forward to the future and sometimes I look to the past but I try not to live in those states.

I don’t think that being mindful is an excuse to quit your job or to allow your lack of motivation to overwhelm you. I do think though, that if you find yourself feeling unmotivated all of the time and you find that you have to push yourself every single day to do even the smallest thing, you may want to seek professional help. These are sometimes signs of depression.

What do you think about this? How hard do you try to be productive? Are you experiencing burn-out because of it? Let me know your opinion in the comments.