Challenging Ideas Regarding Productivity


Wow, there’s a lot to unpack from one word. My life has been centered around society’s view of productivity. I always feel I have to be doing something so I won’t be seen as lazy or worthless. I do get a sense of value based on the things I accomplish. As an undergraduate student, I always feel I have to be involved in something and achieve top grades. To the average person this seems like the perfect thing to do to prepare one to be successful. However, as I reflected on the words of a teacher who lead a meditation retreat I attended, I saw that my behavior regarding productivity is lazy.

I can hear parents around the world yelling “Lazy?! Are you out of your mind?!”

Well, before we jump the gun here, follow me as we explore how productivity can be a form of laziness. How many times do we mindlessly do the same tasks without being present at all? How many times do we just cross off our to-do lists without even examining the purposes of the activities we engage in and where they are leading us?

Understandably, things like laundry, washing dishes, and similar tasks can be done without questioning their purpose. However, to give an idea of what I mean I will provide an example, an example that also leads to why I was in dire need of attending a meditation retreat.

Internships. President’s Honor List. Praise. I did whatever I could to be validated as a human being. My actions were based on society’s expectations of what kind of person I should be. This way of living alienated me from myself and I felt so disconnected. I did task after task. I kept piling activities on my plate to please others and for people to see how hard I worked.  Everything became routine. While I greatly enjoyed and have gain invaluable insights from my studies and internships, my sense of self was missing from this picture.

Doing the same tasks over again without any thought, how could this not cause idleness or a feeling of not exercising one’s creativity and mind? To just be involved with things, not questioning why, and just going through the motion, how could I not feel disconnected?

A beautiful song by India Arie illustrates my point. In this song she states, “Slow down baby you’re goin’ to fast, you’ve got your hands in the air and your feet on the gas. You’re ’bout to wreck your future running from the past. You need to slow down baby…”

Like this song, the essence of this post is to encourage pausing and being mindful of what we are doing in our daily lives. We are busy, busy, busy, busy everyday. I think it would be helpful to pause here and there, take a step back, and ask those important questions. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Do I like or love what I’m doing? Do I need a moment to restore my energy? What can I do to realize goals that are aligned with my principles and values? Am I the kind of person I want to be? What kind of student, daughter, mother, father, employee, son, person am I? Do I like what I see? How can I work on myself?

I am sure that when we start to reflect, pause or take action, we will have lives where there is happiness, efficiency, flourishing, and more connection.

This post is just a thought. I may change my outlook overtime, but being present and mindful makes me feel like I am truly human and not just a mindless robot. What do you think?

Thank you for reading and take care. (:

© 2015 Sandy Gordon. All rights reserved.

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