by Carol Etzel
If you find yourself associating your self worth with your level of productivity, you’re not alone.
There is a huge market for productivity hacks and tricks, especially in recent years. These come in the form of articles like The Writing Routines of 12 Famous Authors or 10 Ways to Be More Productive. There is a similar market for this material on social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
During the global crisis, there has been an increased demand for this content. I have been struggling with motivation recently. I am tempted by this content, because of course I want to be more productive. It’s easy to look towards successful people for advice. There is a lot of information out there and it can be hard to know who to listen to.
Some people promote the idea that this is a perfect time to catch up on writing projects or learn another language. Others say this stressful time warrants relaxation. So where’s the balance?
Toxic productivity is a term I recently heard for the first time. This refers to the idea that you must wake up early and spend every waking hour to your advantage. It promotes a damaging ideology that if you don’t find a way to be productive then you are not going to be successful in life.
If it’s so harmful, then why is this content popular?
Everyone wants to be productive. We all have writing projects that we wish we had more time to work on. We all struggle with motivation from time to time. This becomes damaging when we believe these productivity tips and tricks are the only way to be successful.
After an unproductive morning, sometimes I would feel so defeated that I couldn’t accomplish anything for the rest of the day. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s so easy to get caught up in. Once you believe that your self worth is measured by your productivity, it will affect you in ways you can’t even imagine.
This is a great time to work on your writing projects, but if you don’t then that is okay. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or drained then you should take some time to breathe. If something doesn’t get done because you are taking care of yourself, that is valid. Work is not everything. Your needs are important too.
My journey towards a healthier perspective of productivity has been a long one. I’m going to share one or two strategies that have helped me during the pandemic, but I want to know your thoughts! Let me know how you’ve been tackling this new change.
Finding a new routine after adjusting to change in the pandemic is no easy task. If you’re going to make adjustments to your normal routine, be prepared for trial and error. This can be frustrating, especially if you feel like you don’t have time for trial and error. Looking at other people’s tips can be a good place to start, but it won’t work for everyone. It’s interesting to know that Stephen King writes 6 pages a day and Ernest Hemingway would write at first light every morning. However, you are not Stephen King or Ernest Hemingway. You are your own individual.
You’ll likely have to try new things and adjust when your routine doesn’t work out. I’ve been living off structured to-do lists. I even write down my meals, or else I’ll get so wrapped up in work that I will forget to eat. Knowing what time of day you have the most motivation can also save you a few steps. I have the most energy in the morning. Once the evening comes I am running out of steam. I always begin my day with a small task so I can check something off the list and feel accomplished. Then, I tackle the most time or energy consuming task on my list. I try to power through and get it over with while I have that energy.
If I feel like giving up (it happens a lot), I let myself take a break for a few minutes. I speak kindly to myself. I can take a break because I deserve it, but then I’m going to come back and finish. If I complete the task now, I won’t have to worry about it later. Your mindset is such a powerful thing when it comes to motivation.
I read something a few years ago that said you can restart your day at any point. If things aren’t working out and you’re feeling frustrated, you can start over. If life throws you a curveball (and it will), try to be as forgiving as possible. You didn’t get your 1,000 words written today? That’s okay. Take some deep breaths, look at your to-do list, and readjust.
If you get caught up on not completing every single task then it will have a domino effect on the rest of your day. Fighting perfectionism is something I struggle with every day. Being kind to yourself is extremely difficult, but it is rewarding.
What strategies have you been using during the pandemic? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts.
About the Author: Carol Etzel is a college student from Pennsylvania, USA. Her favorite things include road trips, her cat Molly, bubble tea, and reading.