On Productivity

Like way too many people, especially U.S. people, I always feel like I’m not getting enough done. I need to write more. I need to manage my money. I need to clean this house and get rid of lots of stuff.

On social media, I see lots of my friends doing all these things and more and I feel guilty. Though I often also feel exhausted just reading about all the things they’re getting done.

Still, too many things remain undone. I’m not being productive.

But this morning, while I was meditating, it came to me that I am actually doing several things I never used to do, things that take time and are great for my quality of life even though they don’t weigh much on the productive scale.

(I know you’re not supposed to “think” while meditating, but one of the useful things that happens to me during that time is that I suddenly understand something that’s been going on under the surface.)

(I probably need to meditate more.)

Maybe the biggest newish thing I do is that I get a good night’s sleep, usually eight or nine hours worth. Sometimes I have trouble going to sleep or wake up with worries in the wee hours. After those nights, I sleep in.

This is after a lifetime of refusing to go to bed early, even if I wasn’t doing anything but staring at bad TV, and getting up early to do things.

I got up early to go to 7 am Aikido for about a third of my life, just as an example. And of course, even without that I had to get up for things like school and work.

These days I rarely have to get up early to be somewhere and I love it (even if I will always miss the 7 am Aikido class at Aikido Shobukan Dojo in Washington, D.C.).

In addition to sleeping enough, I also walk enough. I average over an hour and a half of walking every day, doing a combination of running errands and walking around the neighborhood.

I also write my morning senryu, meditate, and do a little Tai Chi. And I do some of my physical therapy exercises, which is important, because I hurt if I don’t do PT.

Then there’s food. We have access to superb food from our farmer’s market and some other sources around here, so we cook a lot. That way we eat a very healthy and tasty diet. But both cooking and shopping take time.

Oh, yes, and I also feed the neighborhood crows.

None of those things count as productive, but they make a very large difference in my quality of life.

The only real problem is that there are things I would like to do that are not getting done: a novel, some other writing, the study of a number of subjects (the list of things I’d like to study just keeps growing).

Then there is spending time with other people, not to mention being politically active. I do need to add more of that into daily life.

And, of course, there are things that have to be done, such as taxes and getting rid of stuff and making my tech work for me more efficiently and generally putting my affairs in an order that makes them less stressful for me now and easier to handle after I’ve shuffled off.

I have to do a bare minimum of those things or bad things will happen.

I am looking for a way to make sure I do the things that really matter, which is to continue to do the healthy things that are making me feel good, write some things I really want to write, and do some other things like read and study and socialize that bring me pleasure, without scheduling every moment.

And I’m looking for ways to simplify the crappy stuff that has to get done so that I can do as little of it as possible with the least amount of stress possible.

Because while there are things I’m not getting to that I want to spend more time on, I still don’t want to be “productive.”

I don’t ever want to be productive again.

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