• Erin

The Myth of Productivity

What is productivity? You're a smart woman so I won't waste your time giving you the dictionary definition. I do, however, want to encourage you to visit it again. Notice threads of commercialism and consumerism running through it, and how they are impacting your life. Productivity is business. It isn't representative of a thriving human, but somehow it has become our daily barometer. It shows up as stress when we think about how much we need to get done in a day, and how many checkmarks we have on our list. It represents how successful we feel at work or home. Modern women have so many pressures, including these stealthy productivity messages that pour in from internal and external sources.

Not only are you re-working what you said to your neighbor in yoga class, the wrinkles in your shirt from it being folded weird, how your kids are doing in school, checking in with your friend that sent an SOS bad day text, organizing an event you're planning at work, will you meet the deadline for a work project, getting back to that unfinished sweater you're're also thinking about a million other errands and chores AND whether or not you'll be able to get them all done. Our current culture conditions you to believe you're better the more you do and how fancy you look when you do it. You can read more about potential impact of social media here. This system doesn't represent a balanced and healthy person. One who honors her needs and respects the messages being sent to her by a deeper wisdom. Instead it asks that you sacrifice more of your time, especially that spent on your self-care.

Here is where we circle back to the myth. Constantly moving and pushing to get stuff done can result in a less healthy lifestyle due to the choices you make in order to complete those tasks. Long term stress bathes your tissues in hormones that cause them to deteriorate. Your immune system doesn't get the resources it needs. When you treat your resilient mind and body like machinery you have a greater chance of inviting disease into the weak spaces. It will actually take you out longer. You're suffering in order to avoid the threat of not being enough. I'm sharing this for contemplation, not for shame, we have all been there. Many of these patterns have been deeply engrained in us. In some cases for generations. Consider where and how are you asking more from yourself when the message is rest? Where are you having trouble saying no?

In addition to impacting your health, in order to prove our worth we temporarily forfeit a little piece of our child-like ability play. We offer our precious time for silence and imagination to the master of task completion.

I remember once reflecting on what I do for rest or fun during an at home Ayurvedic cleanse (in which rest is required). It was really hard! I realized I spent little to no time having fun, just because, without feeling bad. It was profound. I had forgotten what true rest looks like and how big of an impact it can make. It is a time when you're not sleeping, but still offering the body, mind, and heart the opportunity to heal and rejuvenate. In this space our best and most creative ideas approach us.

I imagine at this point you're realizing the conundrum. In order to have moments of non-productivity you need time. Time that needs to be created. Adding more to your full plate only makes it heavier, so you prioritize and set aside certain things that rank low. There are times when you think something is a top priority, but in reality it's not that important. Doing a load of laundry when you really need a nap. Take the nap. Then when you wake up you'll be able to cook yourself a nourishing meal, spend quality time with your kid or call a friend and really connect. You may discover places where you can be more efficient (eh hem...less scrolling) with your time allowing more space for fun, play and relaxation keeping you free of illness and reducing your stress.

Next time you're at home or in the office and you're not feeling "productive"check in with how it feels to consider NOT doing the next thing. Notice what pains and old wounds rise up for you. They are messengers too. Sore spots for healing to take place.

Noticing these spots allows you the opportunity to practice compassion with yourself. It can be raw, but the journey is beautiful. You're conversing with the deeper levels of your psyche. If you focus entirely on get it done, what comes next, check it off the list you might miss the gift of an opportunity to nourish and nurture your heart. That act supports you in the realization that you are a worthwhile person, because you most certainly are.

Tips for moving out of a human-doing lifestyle:

1.) Take time to remind yourself every morning that you are more than what you do. Write it. Say it out loud. Find a method you'll listen to. Consciously lift some of the pressure.

2.) If it's hard to find time in the day to rest or to play. Look for one or two ways you can minimize the amount of energy that you're putting into certain tasks to create more space. Start with finding 5 minutes a day.

3.) Explore a new system for prioritizing. Begin weighing whether or not something is a high or low priority for today. Another option is to have short-term and long-term tasks. This is a helpful project to do with a partner, friend or therapist.

4.) Give yourself permission each day to color, dance, laugh, play in the dirt or walk through the woods. Choose something that feels good to do, and do it because it fills you up.

Let's keep you healing and growing. Call or email me to schedule an appointment.


Erin McCloskey provides confidential, client-focused counseling, coaching and therapy services specializing in areas that include, but are not limited to: Women’s Health, Chronic Stress, Life Transitions, Low Motivation, Anxiety, Depression, Relationships, Self Esteem, Spirituality, and Maternal Mental Health including issues in Pregnancy, Prenatal Anxiety, and Postpartum Depression.

Serving: Wilmington, Hockessin, Newark and Greenville, DE as well as Media, Garnet Valley, and Chadds Ford, PA, and their surrounding communities.

Erin McCloskey, M.Ed., LPCMH

3526 Silverside Road, Suite 36

Wilmington, DE 19810


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