Have you ever felt guilty or lazy for doing something ‘unproductive’? Whether we are watching tv, scrolling through social media or taking a long nap, how often do we feel bad about our choices? When our lists are long, the email volume is growing exponentially, and the piles of laundry seem to multiply overnight, we often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
I’m the first to admit how much I enjoy a productive day. The feeling of checking off a task that has been haunting you for weeks is addictive! But how often do our lists include ‘do nothing’ or ‘just chill’? If we don’t create space to intentionally be ‘unproductive’, we miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and to fully recharge.
There will always be more to do, and it seems like we add new things to our list faster than we check them off. Most of us feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what needs to get done, and put ourselves at the bottom of the list. Self-care only becomes a priority when we recognize we can’t pour from an empty cup, and give ourselves permission to create space in our day.
There is a big difference between suddenly realizing you’ve spent the last three hours in a Netflix binge, and deciding in advance that you want to spend three hours watching Netflix. When we decide we want to spend our time on something, it becomes a treat. The very same activity can either lead to guilt and shame, or joy and relaxation. The difference comes when we decide.
Consider your mindset when you start the day. I have no doubt there are many important tasks you want to get done, but you don’t have to give yourself the leftover scraps of time that are only available once you’ve checked off everything else. Decide when you start your day what would give you joy, even if you can only spare a few minutes.
Can you find 15 minutes in your day to do something unproductive? To allow yourself the freedom to take a nap, watch a baby goat video, or sit on the porch and enjoy the sunset? Taking a break doesn’t mean you aren’t successful or motivated – it is simply a way to enjoy the journey. Creating the space to do something unproductive often becomes the fuel we need to get out of neutral and tackle the big priorities on our list.
Author: Becky Jacobs, Chief Engagement Officer