Why am I unproductive
Why you shouldn't be afraid of being unproductive
Photographed by Kate Anglestein
The only picture with a motivational slogan that ever made me want to share a meme on social media actually doesn't have a motivational slogan, but rather the opposite. A coffee cup is depicted on it, on which the sentence “Your value is not measured by how productive you are” is written. When I first saw the picture, it was as if someone was stroking my head soothingly. Somebody had finally said that.
I've spent a lot of time in my life feeling bad about not working hard enough. After that, I felt bad because I spent so much time feeling bad. Because in that time I could have worked hard after all. I often have the feeling that something is wrong with me. I just can't find the secret door to a treasure trove full of energy that allows others to do several jobs at the same time or to realize their own projects that are close to their hearts in addition to their 9-to-5. I even lack the willpower to turn off my laptop after eight o'clock or go to workout in the morning before work. I'm ashamed that I haven't read all these books, haven't seen these films. And that I looked on Twitter for the summary of the seven-page article that went through the roof because I just didn't feel like reading that long. As I fear that I might be mistaken for a person without ambitions, I say, as a precaution, “I'm just very lazy” to show all the hardworking bees out there that I am well aware of my defect. But to be honest, I'm fine with it. I earn okay and I even have something of a career to show for. So why is my inner critic yelling at me all the time thinking I am "not doing enough"? When is it enough?
If hyperproductivity is the modern form of religion, then I could be compared to a communion child who doesn't want to go to mass every Sunday. In times when #MondayMotivation and vacations where people keep working (Working Vacation called - am I the only one who thinks this is paradoxical?), become the rule, it quickly happens that we believe that the more we do the more we lead better lives. We are practically forced to “live our lives to the full”, and this is exactly what our calendars look like. Even creative hobbies no longer make people just to have fun, but also to share the results on social media. Maybe you can still earn some money with it? As soon as someone posts a scarf that he or she knitted for their grandma, it rains comments like “You should sell your things on Etsy!” When two people talk about the world drunk in the back seat of a taxi, sooner or later one of them screams of both with full conviction: "We should make a podcast out of this!"
Which sounds like a good thing at first. Because this is how people are motivated to start projects from which real jobs and careers can develop. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of juggling a thousand projects that turn out to be nothing but burnout. The 28-year-old author Amy Jones has also had this experience. “For a long time I was convinced that anything I do for fun was a waste of time. It was normal for me to turn any new hobby into a job, whether it was cooking, writing or music. It was about monetizing all my skills, or at least using them for my career. If I wasn't selling anything, at least I wanted to post pictures of it on Instagram to 'build my brand'. ”But her attitude has now changed. Her book will be published in Great Britain next year The To-Do List and Other Debacles. In it, she describes why the culture of hyperproductivity is doomed to failure. “It went so far that I couldn't relax at all. I made projects out of all hobbies and felt constantly guilty when I wasn't working on them. "
France Corbel is the illustrator of the meme I spoke about at the beginning. When I ask her what inspired her, she says that she often felt like she was wasting her time - much like me. “At some point I felt guilty all the time when I didn't do anything that didn't at least look like work,” she adds in an interview.
“Something that looks like work” sums it up pretty well, doesn't it? Because our compulsion to be productive has long been directed not only at work, but has all possible aspects of our everyday life firmly under control. Eating, exercising, buying small, perfect succulents: all of this has long ceased to serve personal satisfaction, but has become a kind of performance. If you don't start every message to which you of course reply far too late with “Sorry, sorry, sorry, my week was just too blatant”, you run the risk of being mistaken for an uninspired lover by those around you.
In addition, our social life and our apartments now have a larger administrative apparatus behind them than any civil office. For example, my to-do list currently contains the following items: Write a long DM reply on Twitter, send my parents an email with my Christmas wishes and buy me a new carpet on Ebay.
If we take a look at Scandinavia, it looks different. The six-hour day is being tested in many places and the results speak for themselves. Workers are happier, healthier and no less productive. Of course, that doesn't mean that hard work is the enemy. Rather, we should learn to organize our hard work in such a way that it is efficient so that we can not do anything for the rest of the day.
“We live in a world of constant distraction,” says sociologist Dr. Anna Akbari. “That makes it harder and harder to concentrate and be productive because that distraction creates more and more small tasks - replying to someone on social media or installing an update or whatever. These distractions mean that, in addition to our daily chores, we quickly feel overwhelmed and give up. ”In short, there is a difference between“ climbing a mountain ”and“ being trapped in a hamster wheel ”. It is fulfilling to reach a summit. And it's incredibly unsatisfactory to plow towards a far-off horizon that never comes nearer.
Amy has now started to paint with watercolors. But it has no purpose in doing so. “I now allow myself to do things simply because I enjoy it. It is more important to me to be happy than to be extremely productive. ”In our generation it now seems to be normal for us to constantly confirm to one another that we can achieve anything. It would be almost a radical act to add: “But you don't have to”. Instead of hearing one more story about someone who worked hard to make their dream come true, I'd like to hear more stories from people who leave the office at five in the afternoon to do puzzles at home. Especially by women. Because here too the patriarchy has a firm grip on us. How many times have we heard that as a woman you have to work twice as hard as men to be successful?
The illustrator France Corbel says: “In a capitalist system, work leads to success and success leads to satisfaction. From my point of view, however, it is unhealthy to see satisfaction as another goal that one has to work on. To be creative, we have to allow boredom. We need to rest to have energy for the things we want to do. We have to find time to take stock in order to develop. ”Dr. Akbari: “Not everything that inspires requires productivity. However, that does not mean that it is not valuable, but rather the opposite. We all have to determine for ourselves what success means for us. "
I'm in the process of defining that for myself. If I work hard enough to buy myself a coffee, I think that's enough for me.
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