How to Give Up Your Obsession with Being Productive

Whenever I felt lazy, I’d run through a list of all the things I’d accomplished so far. I needed that feeling of a job-well-done to earn some guilt-free downtime. I love checking off a to-do list, and I won’t lie and say I don’t feel better about myself when I tackle multiple tasks.

Like a lot of us, when Covid hit and changed my get-sh!t-done capacity, I realized I didn’t enjoy basing my worth on my productivity.

I was stuck between two feelings.

I enjoy being productive, and I don’t see anything wrong with getting a feeling of accomplishment when you check things off. At the same time, I didn’t want to rely on my to-do list status to be comfortable playing on the floor with my toddler or reading my book in the *gasp* middle of the day.

This is an incredibly common feeling that many – if not all – of my client’s experience.

You're not alone, and you are not "crazy" for having a hard time slowing down and doing what you enjoy. Here are 3 ways to end the obsession with being productive.

Here are 3 ways to dismantle the productivity = worthy trap:

Expand how you define productive

Our society places a lot of emphasis on the tangible, capitalist versions of productivity. No matter what your lifestyle, it takes work to feel successful and productive outside of that interpretation.

Create a list of things, actions, and feelings that are important to you that fall outside of that narrow definition. Here are some of mine for examples:

  • Creativity
  • Friendship
  • Kindness
  • Joy
  • Personal growth/Learning
  • Rest
  • Health

With those new concepts defined as what I value being important, success and productivity can look different. Time spent on the couch falls under Joy, Personal Growth (no matter what I’m reading!), and rest. Check, check, CHECK!

Read This: A Simple Mindset Shift to Go With the Flow

Spending time comforting a friend is no longer seen as “wasted” because Friendship and Kindness are very important to me.

Block time for these activities (at first)

It’s going to feel uncomfortable and you might be fighting the urge to do something “more important”, especially at first. I highly recommend blocking time in your calendar to do things that you don’t inherently view as productive/important.

It could be 20 minutes or 2 hours, every day or 3 times a week. Whatever feels like a stretch but doable for you right now. You will need to do this less the more comfortable you get with taking time to be “unproductive” (heavy quotes, here!).

Have a list of things you could do in those time blocks. They could be:

  • Read
  • Craft (knit, cross stitch, whatever you keep putting off doing or learning to do)
  • Call a friend
  • Nap (WUT?!?!)
  • Bake
  • Meditate
  • Watch a show

Have a mantra

This is crucial for the early days of this practice! When your mind is drifting to the things you should-be-could-be doing, when you start to feel guilty and judge yourself for not doing enough, having a mantra to repeat is beyond helpful.

Here are a few to try:

  • I am busy being
  • This is important to me
  • This is worthy of my time
  • I am where I need to be
  • I am not behind
  • This is what I choose to do
  • I choose me
  • I give myself permission to [name what you are doing]

You can also simply repeat what it is you’re doing to ground you in the moment. If you are baking that could be, “I am stirring batter, I am stirring batter, I am stirring batter…”

Read This: 5 Mantras to Help You Live More in The Present

Those things you wrote down that are important to you, and the list of activities you came up with is what makes your life worth living. It’s why you’re obsessed with being productive in the first place, so you can do those things.

You’re not alone, and you are not “crazy” for having a hard time slowing down and doing what you enjoy. I help, and challenge, women with exercises just like this all the time because I know just how they feel!

If you’re ready to live your life fully, without the constant guilt of what you “should” be doing, I invite you to book a free consult 💕

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