Something I have been trying to work on the last few months is not being productive. I have a really hard time with doing nothing. Right now, my goal is to have one day a month where I have no plans or to-do’s, and therefore do nothing productive. The past few months I did haven’t met that goal. Sounds extreme? I absolutely agree. But it’s hard to change. Somehow, I have this extreme urge to be productive. Today I want to talk a bit more about why I struggle with not being productive.
My history and personality
I think me struggling with not being productive is two-sided. Firstly, I think it’s a personal thing and has to do with my history and personality a little bit. I have always wanted to do everything and had a lot of hobbies. At quite a young age my parents already had to force me to quit playing handball or swimming, because I was doing both, and I was doing extra sports at school. Therefore, I had training almost every night. But I just liked all those things. Some time later, when I was 15, I started working (part-time) and the past 10 years I have only taken one year off working.
At age 16, I started this blog. I want to inspire others to live a more sustainable life. Since then, I have written one post a week and there have been periods in which I wrote three posts each week. At age 17, I started writing a business plan and by the age of 19 I had my own business. And since the age of 17, I’ve had a long-distance relationship with someone who’s always (except for one year) lived at least 2 hours away from me. So, if I didn’t go to school, I worked at my part-time job, played sports, worked hours for my own business, spend time in the train to go to my boyfriend, or spend time on this blog. Looking back, I’ve always done a lot. It’s just normal for me.
But besides this drive within me, I think I’ve internalized a bit of the capitalized system we live in. We live in a capitalistic society and it’s normalized to be an over-achiever. You’re always encouraged to do more. Being productive is praised. The bigger your cv, the better. Personal growth is encouraged. You always have to grow and become a better version of yourself. I think I’ve internalized this a little bit. I always have this voice in me saying I could do something from my to-do list.
The result right now
The result of those two things I described above is that I struggle with not being productive. Even though I have less on my plate right now than I did before. I mean, I work 4 days a week, which leaves 3 days open. I have enough free time! The problem is that I never take this free time as a break. I struggle with doing nothing and not being productive on those free days. There’s always something I do, which is ‘productive’ or has a goal. Like exercising, read a non-fiction book or writing something.
If I don’t work, I work out 5 times a week, write this blog, make two Youtube-video’s each month, donate plasma, donate poop, volunteer at BiteBack, commute to my partner or family who also live 3 hours away from me or work on my never-ending to-do list. There’s always something to do. I find this part of me very hard to analyse. Why is it so hard for me to wake up one day and do nothing? I don’t know, watch tv, play a game or just chill with friends all day?
I struggle with enjoying a break
Of course there are days in which I do nothing productive for a whole evening. But I never have peace with it. Last week for example, roommates invited me to go to the cinema. I said say, because I enjoy spending time with them. But I cannot 100% enjoy it at that time. 5% of me still worries about the things I wanted to do that evening. And so, I move them to the next day, and so that next day I end up doing more than was the plan. That is a unhealthy. I should be able to do something spontaneously without struggling. Right now, I do sometimes change my plans, but I don’t have a peaceful mind.
But I love my life
I am not writing this to show how much my life sucks. The contrary is true! I’d rate my life a 9/10 right now. I am happy! I just wish I’d give myself a little bit more rest sometimes. And I am trying, but so far it hasn’t worked out. I guess I have too many hobbies and goals. I have thought about this, but I am not willing to give up any of the things I do. In fact, I want to add more things. I think the trick is realising that some things can wait. If I am free on a Wednesday and have no appointments, I should realize that my to-do list can wait. So from now on, my plan is to plan some free days haha. Plan days ahead on which I don’t do anything productive. It’s time to do some self-care.
Do you recognize this?
This article is a little messy. I have so many feelings about this. I think I’m just writing this as a personal reflection on the past few months, but I am also curious to see whether anyone experiences this as well. Recently, I did see a Youtube video from my one of my favorite Youtubers, Lobke Faassen, describing the same struggle of not being productive. It’s nice to know that I am not alone in this feeling. And I know I am valuable and worth of having a good life, even if I am not productive. My life itself is meaningful. Productiveness has nothing to do with that. Now it’s time that I start living this as well. Because I know it, but I don’t act like it.