If you haven’t woken up at 3am, meditated for 2 hours, gone to the gym, walked your dog, made your artisan coffee, stretched, journaled and eaten a perfectly balanced and healthy breakfast before you even step foot into the office – are you even productive, bro?
With social media becoming even more prevalent in our daily lives, it’s become almost impossible to escape the never-ending ‘productivity shaming’ online.
Where people portray their almost perfect daily routines and make you feel (or at least, make me feel) that since my morning routine is less than glamorous, I must not actually be a ‘successful’ person or even making the most out of my life.
Above Image: A very helpful Instagram post on how to ‘crush my morning’. Thanks. I especially like ‘Wake up super early’.
Well, let me tell you, if I woke up at 3am every day, I wouldn’t get anything done because I’d be asleep at my desk by midday. That’s just how I am. I need my sleep, and I’m not going to hate myself for that. It’s just the way that it is, some people don’t get up until 7.30, eat breakfast, drink a perfectly mediocre coffee and stumble their way into the office.
Their routine isn’t inherently worse (or better) than the ‘guru’ that wakes up at 3am ready to *ahem* kill the day.
That’s the problem with comparing yourself to people on social media, you’re made to feel inferior because your routine isn’t super optimised for unbridled performance™.
That’s the problem with comparing yourself to people on social media, you’re made to feel inferior.
Can’t we just learn to love our differences and appreciate that some people might be more productive if they woke up even later and started their meaningful work in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning? (That’s not to say they don’t work in the morning, but they might knock out their mindless tasks – emails, admin tasks etc. – Early and save their more intensive work for later).
There’s also the more insidious side to all of this: how much of what we see of ‘internet productivity’ is real, and how much is just made up nonsense? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve frequented online forums *cough* Reddit *cough* only to be bombarded with posts and posts of productivity word vomit.
2,000-word essays written about how someone (most likely a 19-year-old guy who probably still lives at home while creating his ‘startup’) has completely optimised their performance through their ‘productivity hacks’. Oh, and by the way, here’s a link to their eBook where, for only $14.99, you can access their world-class insights (which are exactly the same as the thousands of other productivity books out there).
Get out of here with that noise.
Above Image: Just some generic productivity quotes courtesy of Google. Very helpful.
So, if you’re comparing your own productivity to someone on the internet and you feel like you’re coming up short, just ask yourself: are you doing something every day to work toward your goals? If the answer is yes, even if it’s just one tiny task per day, then you’re all good and I give you permission to stop feeling inadequate.
The same goes for being ‘busy’.
The unpleasant fact is that ‘being busy’ is now a badge of honour. An automatic response to the question “how are you?”. It’s been this way for a while, I must admit, but it’s gotten to the point that it almost makes me cringe any time I hear someone (or even, god forbid, myself) say it.
You know the conversation when you ask your business acquaintance (or even just your friend) how they are and they respond:
“Oh you know, good, I’m just soooo busy.”
And so you respond something inane and change the conversation. Perhaps you change it to something non-work related like the gym or learning something new, and you get hit with this:
“Oh, I wish I had time for the gym, but I’m just soooooo busy with work. It must be sooooo nice having the time to do those things.”
And, normally I’m hit back with this feeling of inadequacy. This feeling that I’m not spending most of my time working so there must be something wrong with me. This feeling that I’m not ‘hustling’ hard enough if I’ve got all that time to do those things.
But, in reality, it’s not that at all.
Is saying you’re busy just an automatic response when you’re in the middle of uncomfortable small talk?
If people are so busy, but they’re spending their time telling you about how busy they are instead of actually working… It makes me wonder, are they actually busy? Or are they just saying that they’re busy because it’s an automatic response when you’re in the middle of uncomfortable small talk?
I recently read an op-ed piece in the New York Times that so artfully captured what I was feeling that it would almost be a crime not to include it: ‘The ‘Busy’ Trap’ by Tim Kreider. In it, he discusses similar thoughts to these ones, except he goes a step further. He opines that people are addicted to being ‘busy’ because it fills their otherwise empty lives. It gives them the sense of meaning, helps them think that ‘if they’re busy their lives couldn’t possibly be pointless’.
That might be a bit blunt, but as we continue down this road of ‘busy bragging’, I can’t help but think maybe, just maybe, he’s onto something. Also, telling people you’re too busy makes you feel important – and that makes you feel good, so I can see why people get addicted to it.
But, maybe the point of this is to figure out how to give your life meaning beyond endless ‘productivity’ and ‘busyness’. If you’re busy just for the sake of filling your life, maybe it’s best to take a step back and realise there is more to life than work. More to life than being ‘busy’.
The quiet moments you have when you aren’t busy are just as important. They’re just as meaningful as the moments it feels like you’re moving at 10,000 miles per hour. In fact, those quiet moments are the only times when you get to really figure out who you are, think about what you’re working toward and whether it’s even worth it.
When did we, as a society, forget the importance of free time?
This obsession with productivity and busyness seems to stem from society’s desperate desire for work and to appear as though they’ve achieved something… anything in their lives. People are working more than ever, and to be seen as ‘successful’ you need to be working as much as humanly possible, too. No longer is a 9-5 enough, you need to have a 9-5 job AND a ‘side hustle’. But, have you even implemented any ‘passive income streams’ yet?
When did we, as a society, forget the importance of free time? And begin looking down upon those who might have it?
Humans aren’t designed to work 15 hours a day, ensuring that every minute of every hour is as productive as possible. We’re designed to get things done – in whatever way that is. If that means working 5 hours a day and then spending a couple of hours unwinding or getting outside, so be it. That way you might actually get more done.
We’ve all heard the overused saying “Work smarter, not harder” – and although it may seem stale, it still rings impossibly true in this day and age. Those who are preoccupied with being overly busy and permanently productive are going to, sooner rather than later, run into a brick wall of burnout, depression, anxiety and a sleuth of other issues both physical and mental.
You’re not going to lay on your deathbed and wished you worked more, or that you worked harder. Remember that.
But hey, that’s just my point of view.