BALANCING PRODUCTIVITY WITH POSITIVITY
No matter what is going on out there in the world or what our individual personal situations are, the constant message about the importance of productivity always continues to come through loud and clear. By now, we all know what it means to be living in a productivity culture. For the most part, this insistence that we should be doing more, getting more tasks stuffed into our already-busy days, is simply accepted. But should it be?
Mental health is a growing issue for our population. Many with a mental illness struggle just to even participate in simple aspects of daily life. For them, it is just about impossible to keep up with the extreme expectations for productivity. You may have noticed yourself how detrimental a hyperfocus on productivity is for your mental wellbeing. So, maybe it’s time to rethink productivity.
The Problem with Current Ideas of Productivity
While the world is slowly growing to accept the reality of the challenge we face with mental health, a focus on being as productive as possible every minute of the day continues on. Yet, even for someone without any existing mental health conditions, nothing is more harmful to mental wellbeing than pushing yourself too far for the sake of “being productive”. The dangers of burn-out are very real, but we continue to feel the pressure to perform past our limits.
Yet, if you never stop to focus on yourself and your mental health, your chances of being productive will only go straight down. Stress and the anxiety that mounting to-do lists bring on is anything but conducive to helping you cross those tasks off your to-do list. If you really want to be productive, forget the desire to stay busy and instead focus on your goals for mental health and overall happiness. Positivity is what really leads to productivity.
How You Can Be More Productive
Productivity shouldn’t have to so with crossing items off an arbitrary list that covers it all. You can’t prioritize everything and, after taking the time to consider it, you may actually realize that what you consider priorities don’t actually fit on your list anyway. Mental health itself may be one area that should get your prioritization, but that is utterly incompatible with to-do lists much of the time.
If your lists and schedules and “productivity hacks” are doing nothing but stressing you out, why not just throw them all out? Sure, there are some things that you really do need to get done but a lot may really be unessential clutter and could even be unaligned with your true goals. To know where your focus really should be, connect with yourself and take the time to discover what really matters to you. What do you really want to get done? What do you really want to be spending your time on?
Once you have that, then you can work on going after it, with positive motivation instead of stress. Work on creating a plan that works for you, but don’t let it bog you down. Sometimes, some “unproductive” days may be the best things you could let yourself have because they give you the chance to focus on what’s really important: yourself.
Putting Mental Health Above Productivity
What you never want to do is prioritize productivity over your personal mental health. These two things may, at times, be completely compatible. After all, it can feel really good to check things off and know you’re then one step closer towards reaching your goals. It can be really motivating to see what you’re capable of accomplishing and know that you’re making progress.
However, there may be other times when nothing but self-care tasks will be the ones you’ll want to be completing. You don’t need to do it all. Maybe today you just want to ensure a morning shower and enough sleep, enjoy a coloring book or a meditation session, and give yourself the rest and relaxation you need.
By not pushing yourself too far, you may actually find greater success. When you take care of yourself and your mental health first, everything else can better fall into place. Through positivity and not sacrifice, you may achieve the productivity you’re after.
Positivity During Productive and Not-So-Productive Days
You are not perfect, and you don’t have to try to be. Stop worrying if you’re doing enough or if you’re actually wasting the hours away. You don’t need to constantly be putting effort into various endeavors and being as productive as possible. Even on the unproductive days, be proud of yourself and try to find something that can make you smile. In the end, this positivity is what you should strive for every day.
If you are having some trouble finding the joy, that’s okay too. A positive state of mental health is not something you can just choose. Despite the phrase, “Just get over it,” that you may hear, you can’t just stop having depression with the snap of your fingers or decide you don’t want to have anxiety attacks anymore and be instantly cured. It really isn’t a task you can put on the old to-do list and check off before the end of the day. It just doesn’t work like that. Getting there will require effort and the right tools and resources. If stress about reaching peak productivity is putting you in a poor mental health situation or if a serious condition is keeping you from accomplishing anything, even just daily activities, you may need to turn to a mental health professional. Therapy can do a lot if you let it, and, hopefully, you will be able to find your balance.