When I say, “be productive” what do you think of?

When I say it, I think of that Thursday that I cleaned and vacuumed my whole house after work. Or when I spent quarantine writing a book I’ve had in my head for years.

What I don’t think of is this past weekend where I mostly stayed on the couch to watch Hamilton to my heart’s content.

But no matter what you think of, I’m just here to tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay to experience productivity in spurts or waves. Not everyone is the Energizer Bunny, revving up to take chores down.

And if you can’t rest until everything is taken care of, that’s okay too.

All I’m saying is it’s okay to be you, at whatever energy level feels right.



Early Bird and All That

Sorry guys! I wanted to take off yesterday for the holiday…so I did!

Lately, I’ve been getting up early. Which is not the adult me thing to do. When I was a kid, I got up early all the time.

But not since I reached my twenties. So, now it’s weird that I’m finally giving up my sleeping in schedule. It feels like I’m cashing in my adult card. This is what adults do, right? They get up before their alarms go off? They putter around the house with a cup of coffee and read the news? I don’t know actually, I’m asking for a friend…

It just feels like staying up late is something you do when you’re a kid. Until you inevitably get caught by one of your parents, and get sent straight to bed.

But I’ve realized something. You can be any kind of adult you want! You can stay up late and get up early! Which…to be honest, I don’t recommend but you can totally do that. You can stay up late being productive, and you can get up early and be productive. Or like me, don’t be productive during any hour of the day! It doesn’t matter!

Just do what’s best for you and you’ll find that that’s the best you can do.



Take the Night Off

I don’t say this lightly: take the night off.

I’m not one to stop working until things are complete. Mostly because when I do so, I never return to them. I mean, seriously. I tend to do things in obsessive spurts. And when I take a break, it’s like telling myself I give up.

But tonight, I’m taking the night off from my novel. I’m scared, I feel nauseous, and my chest is tight when I think about taking one night off. I was doing so good on my streak of writing.

But I think someone out there needs to hear this as much as I need to hear it: you are not productive just because you do something every day. You’re productive when you are happy with the end result.

So, if you have been running yourself ragged, if you feel like you can’t go on, if you feel like you need to refill your cup.

Take the night off. Off of any responsibility you thought you were going to do.

Trust me. I’m giving you (and myself) permission.



Do What You Can

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt

This is one of my favorite quotes, even when we aren’t in panic mode.

But I think it applies to our situation now too.

Do what you can is the rallying cry of homeworkers, homeschoolers, and people struggling everywhere.

However, if the internet is any measure, some people are taking the opportunity to clean things out, get rid of things, and just be productive.

But if you’re still struggling to do the simplest task, or you’re burdened by depression or anxiety, or you’re an essential worker on the front lines, my advice is the same.

Do what you can. Leave the rest.



Get Up, Stand Up

I guess this week is all about productivity. Because here’s another realization I had today:

You get less done when you’re chained to your desk. You get more done when you frequently get up and take breaks. 

I know, I know. Every self help article on how to “Study Harder and Better” will give you this advice, but I don’t think you understand it until you live it. 

Because you take me, a person who gets some sick pleasure when I don’t take a lunch break, and you tell me to do a project. I’ll work on it all day long, assess it from every angle, and I’ll deliver it to you by the deadline. But I’ll be tired and mean and frustrated over my contribution. 

And then, you take a slightly less neurotic version of myself, and you give her a lot of water (so she goes to the bathroom a lot) and she takes a bunch of breaks. She still gets her work done, but she also gets some exercise, and she gets well hydrated, and she also gets some time to step away to think about the project from a different perspective. 

And again, you may not be impressed by this discovery, but for me, a person who attained two degrees fueled entirely by staring at a screen for hours at a time and eating Mike n Ike’s, this is earth shattering. That I can have a taste of both worlds: less stress and more productivity. Just by getting up and walking around a couple times a day. 

But again, if you’re not wowed by my revelation and if you’re looking for a real lesson in life, then try doing something that you’ve never done before. Especially if it goes against the very fiber of your very stressed out being. 

Get Ahead

Sorry guys! In all the flurry of excitement for the snow storm (see what I did there?), I totally forgot to post last night! Oops! 

And I also almost didn’t post today. (Oops I did it again…did you see what I did there, too? Sure you did. You are smart people.)

So, what did I do on my snow day? I did a lot of things to put myself ahead for the week. 

Because days off are usually split into two categories. You’re either productive as anything or you are a human sloth. And guess what? We need both of those kind of days. We need the kind that you veg out and only move to go to the bathroom and grab more snacks. And you need days where you can sit by yourself and sort through your email and generally reorganize your life. 

And you know what? I’d like to take back my previous statement about being unproductive when you’re a human sloth. Because like I said, we need both of these kinds of days. We need to heal ourselves and also take time for ourselves. We need to be dead to the world and also prepare ourselves to live in it. These are both productive and meaningful ways of approaching your life. 

So, don’t wallow in self pity when you haven’t done anything all day. That’s fine. And don’t worry if you just use your day off to catch up. That’s okay, too. Just make sure you take the time to be the best you. 

Sorry, I Was in the Hospital

I’m really sorry. I was in the hospital over the weekend, and I took a little time off from everything, including blogging for the past two days.

And at the same time, I’m not sorry about that. (Well, I mean, I would prefer not to go back into the hospital.)

Listen, I know that I have a responsibility to my readers and to all of the other things I do on a daily basis. I know that I am an important cog in the machine, as we are all (asked to believe). And I apologize for letting some things slide, especially this blog. But I am truly not sorry for taking the time off.

In reality, I think that I (as a citizen of this country) have a serious problem with work ethic and productivity. Of course, I may not live in the worst nation in this department and we’re probably even in denial about that, but I think there’s a serious disconnect when it comes to vacation time and the rest of our time in America, and what happens when we try to split the difference.

You see, I know I’m not alone in the fact that I’m afraid to miss any time from work or any of my extracurricular activities. It just makes me generally anxious. I’m all like, What if someone needs something, and I’m not there? Or worse, what if no one even realized I was gone? 

The problem is that when you are burning the candle at both ends and the midnight oil, your body will let you know that this can’t continue, which mine did. And when that happens, it makes you feel like you’ve been missing the signs all along and that you could have possibly prevented it if you picked your head up once in awhile.

So, in some respect, the fact that I even have to say the words in the title of this blog post is evidence of all of our issues and stigma about being able to take the time we need to recharge and rejuvenate ourselves. I shouldn’t even have to apologize for being in the hospital because it’s something that I would certainly classify under “unable to be helped, whatsoever.” It’s not exactly like I chose to be there. And yet, I still felt (and still do) that I owed everyone an apology for not acting as expected and for showing up late to my own party, in effect. I feel somehow responsible for a job not done.

But please take it from me: you do not want to realize that you need some down time when a nice nurse is jamming an IV into your hand and you’re being told that you can go home…as soon as your blood pressure climbs down from the rafters. Be kind to yourself out there and listen closely to what you need. And remember that sick days should not be used solely by the sick. Instead, they sometimes need to be used by the perfectly healthy in order to ward off what they are actually intended for.

Killing One Bird with Two Stones

Humans are pretty fantastic.

We can surf the Internet on our computer and make calls on our cell phones at the same time. We can run on a treadmill and watch television. Some of us (the chosen few) can even drink a beverage and walk down the street.

But, like normal humans, we want more.

We would all sleep with our eyes open if there was a way to get the rest we needed while being able to knit a scarf. In fact, I actually saw someone applying foundation at a red light the other day. With a brush and everything. I wonder if she was trying to do the mortician’s job for them by not paying attention to driving and risking her life, but putting on her make-up anyway.

Of course, I won’t pretend that I am above this type of behavior. I am currently talking to you and watching television. After all, I am a child of this multitasking generation. In my head, I am killing two birds with one stone.

But which is it? Am I watching television? Or am I typing out a blog post?

The reality is I am doing neither. In order to save time, I have chosen to type my blog post while trying to catch up on a television show. But my mind is split: one half is firmly on the plot while the other is firmly on the blog. Thus, I am being productive in neither task because I am always not paying attention to one or the other. I am actually killing one bird with two stones. (If you will pardon the cruel and crude adage. No birds were actually harmed in the making of this blog post.)

And it makes sense. Think about a juggler with three balls. (Or chainsaws, or batons on fire, whatever, pick your poison). Now, imagine that this man or woman starts to juggle whatever he or she is to juggle. If you watch closely enough in your mind’s eye, you will see that he or she is not holding on to any one ball, chainsaw, or baton for longer than a second. This is what happens when you try to multitask. Your mind is a sieve; it only holds on to something as long as it doesn’t slip out of the holes.

But you argue, I can listen to music and study at the same time! or I can cook two different things simultaneously. And I don’t doubt that, except for the fact that I doubt it.

You see, you aren’t really listening to music. You’re studying, and your brain registers the music in the background. Or you are listening to music, hearing the lyrics and notes. And you are just moving your eyes along, taking in nothing. And then, if you are cooking two things at once, it is only because one of those things does not require your full attention. You can set the timer and work on something else while the water boils. That is hardly multitasking. It’s more like babysitting pasta.

I know, I know, it is a hard truth to recognize that we can’t squeeze every drop out of every moment of our every day. It’s hard to reconcile that we can’t do more to fill our lives with the time that we have. But if we measure out our time carefully on this Earth, if we sip on life instead of taking large gulps, we will not want for another second. We will be able to truly multitask: we will be able to taste and savor life simultaneously.