We live in a society in which productivity is considered to be a highly valued aspect of life.
If you seek to impress someone, whether it’s at a job, networking or in everyday relationships, people will wonder what you’re up to. “Nothing” is an answer that's often frowned upon, as is general laziness.
Being busy is simply preferred. When our to-do lists are short, we strive to fill them. If we don’t preoccupy ourselves with work, we build up our social lives instead.
Maybe everyone tells you that you are impressive and your accomplishments are many. Maybe you hold yourself highly. But, when you’re always on the go, when do you take time for yourself?
I’ve always admired my dad for balancing this conundrum. Perhaps it’s his laidback Jamaican background, but he always knows when he needs to take a day to just hang out and relax.
He makes no plans for the day and often spends them sitting on the couch. While these kinds of days are my least favorite (I absolutely hate being idle), I have come to realize that for sanity’s sake, they might be necessary.
But, what do you do when your workload becomes unmanageable? How do you handle an exhausting, full day at work followed by a night out with friends and then work the next morning?
Typically, I push myself to make it work. I put items in a list and check them all off. Though this may facilitate productivity, it never truly helps me.
Sometimes, when you’re SO busy, you just need a lazy day on the couch. When you don’t take the time to do this and spread yourself too thin, some repercussions are bound to ensue. Here are some examples:
1. Stress Overload
We’ve all experienced stress in our lives and I think most everyone can agree that it’s not an optimal feeling.
It can manifest as an inability to sleep, increased weight gain or weight loss, mood swings, forgetfulness, negative thoughts, illness… the list goes on.
There was a time when I thought frequent stress was just a facet of life, but it doesn’t have to be. If you think not being able to sleep (because you have too many things on your mind) is normal, you’re really missing out on some quality z's (that everyone else is totally getting).
2. Increased Susceptibility To A Breakdown
This is what happens when stress becomes extreme and unmanageable. It is sudden and unexpected and can look either like you’ve suddenly gone mad or like you suddenly don’t give a sh*t. Either way, it happens, and it’s often hard to find a way out of it.
An irritated and rude attitude can burn bridges, while stress-induced depression can make you seem even lazier than if you had just taken a day off. In the long run, neither outcome is helping you.
3. Lack Of Appreciation For The Little Things
It’s one thing to do work outside on a nice day and another to lie down and admire the blue sky. Fly a kite. Play a sport. Go for a hike. Smile at a stranger.
These are the “little things,” the day-to-day occurrences and simple activities that we do to enjoy life in the present.
If you’re always working on your to-do list, when can you sit down with a coffee and a good book? It’s these little things that make life worthwhile.
Sure, your résumé might be impressive, but if you don’t indulge in hobbies or take advantage of beautiful days (or even gloomy days!), what are you really enjoying in life?
Throughout many years of stressing myself out with to-do lists and taking on tasks to build up my résumé, I’ve learned that it’s ultimately more enjoyable with balance. Your work is a priority, of course, but so is your own contentment.
It’s easy to put ourselves second; in fact, it almost seems like something society encourages. But, if you wish to increase your own contentment and productivity, you need to be on that to-do list, as well. Life is far too short to neglect your own needs.
Photo via We Heart It