I’d like to think I’m a pretty productive person, and I’m someone who finds enjoyment from learning about other people’s productivity habits and implementing them into my own life.
But I think that’s where I’ve been getting it wrong.
You see, I’m always squeezing in productivity: I’m listening to podcasts when I’m getting ready in the morning and while out walking, I’m checking email while waiting for my food to be ready, I’m on Instagram while in the bathroom (was that too much information?), and then I sit down at my laptop to begin my own creative work, and I simply stare at the blank screen in front of me.
The other night, while driving home after teaching a yoga class, I had an “aha” moment of sorts. As I mentioned above, I’m constantly listening to podcasts about business and being a “girl-boss,” self-improvement, and changing the world. I’m forever reading these email newsletters that flood my inbox with productivity tips, “bettering yourself,” improving your business’s success, etc., and as a result, I’m forever beating myself up.
Why? Because I really don’t care about all that shit, but it makes me feel like I should, or else I’m not good enough/trying hard enough/living-my-best-life-enough. Then, the comparisons and self-limiting thoughts start creeping in, and before I know it, I’m literally driving myself bananas by filling my brain space with other people’s thoughts.
It’s an endless loop of contradictory information, timesaving tips for productivity vs. time-consuming activities for personal development, and more new insights coming in before I’ve had time to finish reading about the first ones. I’ve been spending so much time trying to learn how to be productive that by the end of the day, I’ve gotten nothing done!
I’ve been feeling like I lost my creativity, and therefore feeling bad about myself because of it, so lately, instead of listening to a podcast while going for a walk, I’ve been leaving my headphones at home and listening to the sound of the birds chirping and the leaves crunching beneath my feet. The result? Well, first of all, I’ve actually been able to say hello to people and not just smile and hope they don’t say anything while I walk away, but I’m also able to process my thoughts. I don’t get any ideas from someone else’s toolbox, but instead, I can sort through my personal thoughts, creating my own new ideas with my own inspiration fueling it. It feels amazing and inspiring, and… creative.
Yes, creativity! That’s where you’ve been hiding! I’ve been so focused on everyone else’s thoughts that my creativity tucked itself away, likely assuming that I didn’t need it anymore. I’ve taken so much advice from other people about how they find their creativity, that I’ve lost the ways in which I truly find mine.
It’s not that I’m unproductive, or uncreative, or uninspired… I just needed to get out of my own way.
I have a feeling that, as a society, we’re harming ourselves with knowing so much about one another. We can’t turn on anything (the internet, our phones, the TV) anymore without knowing what someone else had for breakfast, or what someone else is doing this weekend, or what someone else is currently working on. And then we beat ourselves up because we’re not doing something like that too. We get caught up in a wheel of comparison that can spin us out of control.
I think we’re too caught up in trying to keep up. I think we’re too enthralled on whatever it is that we believe this idea of “being productive” will produce: Success? Happiness? Love?
Maybe we’re missing the point. Maybe we’re too busy trying to be productive that we miss out on actually living.
So let me ask you this?
• What is something that you’ve been assuming everyone else is doing and now believe that you need to do too? Do you really want to do it? What are the repercussions if you don’t do it? What are the repercussions if you do?
• What is something that you’re currently doing that feels “off?” Or something you’re trying so hard to do that just doesn’t seem to be working? Or something you’re trying to make room to schedule in yet you just can’t seem to get around to doing it? Or when you do it, you feel like it kills your creativity, or your passion, or spontaneity, or joy? (Hint: in all of these circumstances, maybe that’s your subconscious trying to tell you that it’s not for you!)