The Dangerous Power of “Productivity”

I believe we have started a dangerous cult this country–I don’t know how far it extends, but I’ve noted almost all of my peers have a constant desire to be productive. Anything that is not productive is not worthwhile. How sad is that?

I understand this mindset since I had it for at least four years. During college, I would not do anything if I did not see its purpose:

  • Going out for dinner? No, a waste of valuable study time.
  • Taking a weekend trip? Nope, I won’t have time to work ahead.
  • Hanging out and watching a movie? No, I need do x, y, z unfulfilling “productive” activity.

 

After graduating, this led to me completely going off the rails without action items that needed to be done. My parents took me on a trip to the beach after graduation and I could not even take one day off. I would sneak back from the beach to our hotel room and look through potential jobs on LinkedIn–yeah, that’s nuts. But it’s not just me…it’s a lot of people.

Over the past six months since graduating, I’ve been actively working to disengage from certain routines that make spontaneity difficult (I don’t always have to go to bed early, I can ask to reschedule). In addition, I have been forcing myself to be just a little bit lazy…I might just lie in bed for an extra ten minutes in the morning. Today I woke up without a plan and drove to the beach–no plans, nothing productive in store. I laid down on the sand and just read my book. Afterwards I spent the day wandering around the area, going into local shops and people-watching.

I don’t want to diss productivity too much–it gave me a solid GPA, amazing experiences, and it’s an inherent part of who I am. At the same time, it can’t be all I am; there is a high price for living a life that constantly prioritizes productivity. For me, it sacrificed the things that matter most: relationships, mental health, and physical wellbeing.

In sum, I think it’s knowing when to prioritize productivity, and when to let it go and enjoy life for all it is–the fast, the slow, the mundane, the powerful.

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Do you prioritize productivity? If so, at what cost?

Hannah

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