Productivity Gone Wrong

I have been feeding off productivity. Like a vulture decimating roadkill, I’ve been devouring every little task off my to-do list with fervour. My work productivity has been fueling me in ways I never expected. I’m both contented and insatiable. Clawing at my to-do list like a newborn seeking nourishment in the only way it knows how, nuzzling and suckling, then basking in the innate pleasure of fulfillment.

It would seem that I could not get enough, greedily consuming my tasks leaving my desk, inbox and virtual classroom bone dry each evening.

But then, as mothers milk tends to dry up almost overnight my productivity stopped flowing, with barely a dribble of work enthusiasm to keep me going. I woke with the same voracious readiness to feed off my productivity and just couldn’t seem to make that let down happen, no matter how hard I nudged. I exercised, I wasted time on social media, I ate, I ate some more, I even did the dishes and vacuumed. All to avoid work. My professional procrastination habits hadn’t even satisfied my work-dodging justifications. I just couldn’t muster my productivity.

Where had my productivity gone?

While I pondered its sudden disappearance, I couldn’t help but feel anxiety creep up and tap me on the shoulder. This old foe had a luciferous grin, it stared at me like I was missing something important. But instead of revealing the answer it just punched me deep in the gut, leaving that internal imploding feeling. While externally, I was left with the wobbly smile and a bruised resolve to get on with things.

I think my productivity had become an addiction. And like any addiction the more you do the more you need to satisfy your dependence. Obviously, that is not sustainable and my mind, as cloying and suffocating as it’s thoughts can be, was sending me a reminder to settle down. I had become reliant on productivity to feed me, but my life should be nourished with more than the insatiable doses of just ‘getting shit done’. Equally, I needed to remind myself, my worthiness shouldn’t be justified purely by achieving a boundless (and often overzealous) number of to-do’s.

Confession time – productivity gone wrong

As much as I don’t want my bosses and clients to know, I got very little work done today. I feel guilty and anxious. I feel the need to feed. To dig deep to find my productivity fix. To slaughter my procrastination and to draw blood from its carcass. But I won’t. I have chosen to fast. To starve this compelling, yet crippling desire. This feeling of resignation takes a little power away from my old school yard bully friends – guilt and anxiety. They’re still there, it’s just that the teacher in me has put them on detention for the moment.

I’m grateful to recognise that I can’t solely feed off productivity. It’s not healthy. Healthy is understanding that being productive is useful but taking a moment (or a day in my case) to accept my lull in motivation makes my productive work a whole lot more valuable. Healthy is also eating a balanced meal of diverse flavours that make up my worthiness.

A worthy warning about productivity…

So, this is a little message to all those who have been floating on the high of productivity and not yet experienced the mentally painful symptoms associated with the come-down to reality. It’s perfectly okay to have a lay day. To not achieve everything on the to-do list, or for that matter to not achieve anything on that to-do list. You are more than how productive you are! More importantly, recognise that if your productivity is fueling you, then you may need to have a backup feeding source. If the bones have been picked dry by your vulturous self or the well of motherly milk has dried up there are other ways to nourish your worthiness…you just need to take the time to find them. Good luck.

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