What “Productivity” Means To Me

This page might seem redundant or like it doesn’t have much of a purpose on a blog about motivation. However, I feel it’s important to me and will be important in how I approach my goals, my tasks and how I view this blog.

Here’s the thing: I don’t actually like the words “productive” and “productivity” very much. A bit controversial for someone who wants to accomplish things, I know, but they are words which I associate with negative emotions and in particular negative emotions brought by a person who hurt me a lot. It’s a long story, which I may or may not write about at some point, but the gist of it is this: this person, whom I used to date, decided quite arbitrarily at a late point in our relationship that they were very much annoyed by how sedentary my hobbies were (reading, coding, watching movies and tv shows, playing video games, talking to friends online, etc.) and they went as far as to tell me that they felt the time they spent with me, their partner, was “wasted” because we wouldn’t do anything they considered “productive” while simply hanging out. Eventually, their obsession with “being productive” took over and became quite unhealthy (to the point that I would be put down on their online calendar as a “task” with allotted time – despite the fact that I was a person and their partner, at that) and that, along with other one-sided factors, led them to take the decision to break things off with me, on a whim, after dating for a long time and without taking into consideration my feelings or talking about it together at all, hurting me a lot in the process.

Ever since then, I have very much disliked the word “productive”. It would bring about the negative emotions that this person made me feel – not just by breaking things off with me without any closure, but also how they implied that my hobbies were “unproductive” because they were sedentary and how they made me feel like other people wouldn’t enjoy spending time with me because I didn’t have the most “productive” hobbies on the planet. Basically, they made me feel like my hobbies were “wrong” and I was wrong and lazy for enjoying them and thus being “unproductive”.

Of course, I have learned and realised since then that this is not how a person should treat their partner in a relationship at all. They shouldn’t date their partner because of their “productivity”, they shouldn’t be constantly judging their partner on their productivity levels, productivity shouldn’t be the be-all end-all of a relationship, they shouldn’t make their partner feel like their hobbies are a “waste of time” simply because they have different interests, and they most certainly should not think of or treat their partner as a “task” that needs allotted time on a digital calendar and think of any time they spend with them as “wasteful”. (I am also happy to say that since then I have found a partner who doesn’t treat me this way, with whom I have a deep connection with and who makes me the happiest I have ever been. ❤)

I kept on doing my hobbies, as they were making me feel happy and doing them had always made me feel good; I didn’t let this person change who I was or ruin my hobbies after the way they hurt me. I don’t see my hobbies as a “waste of time” – quite the opposite, I’m making a whole youtube channel about them!

However, a problem persisted: I still associated negative connotations with the words “productive” and “productivity”, but I do want to be productive to achieve my goals and work on my projects (my youtube channel, my blog, etc.). So what to do?

Well, one way to deal with this problem is to use words that mean the same thing as “productive” without being that specific word. So you’ll probably see me use words such as ‘fruitful’, ‘creative’, ‘worthwhile’, ‘constructive’ and ‘rewarding’ a lot.

Another way of dealing with my conflicting feelings towards the concept of “productivity” is this: to have a page where I write down what productivity means to me. Why do I want to be productive? What is productivity to me and what is it not? It might sound confusing, but hopefully, after having read this page, it will make sense.

This is a page that I felt compelled to write, given my history and my feelings towards these simple words. Obviously, the majority of people have no trouble being “productive” and using the word “productivity”, which is totally fine. It just felt right to me to write this page, for myself, to remind me of what I and this blog stand for – what kind of “productivity” I strive to achieve and what is right to me. If you’ve come this far, thank you for reading and may this simple page inspire you in some way!

 

What “productivity” is:

To me, “productivity” is:

  • Entirely personal. I will only do things that matter to myself and that I want to work on. It is not about pleasing or impressing other people; it’s about what makes me feel happy and what makes me feel accomplished. I am not being judged by or doing this for anyone else.
  • About improving myself and building good habits. Being consistent and knowing that, as long as I put in the effort regularly, I can achieve my goals and form healthy habits that will increase my happiness.
  • Something that should first and foremost make me happy when I am doing it. If I don’t feel inspired, or if I don’t feel like what I am doing is coming out well and is not up to my standards, I can stop and work on it another day, without judging myself harshly. I want to enjoy my tasks, not grind through them to meet some arbitrary standards I set upon myself.
  • Celebrating when I achieve goals, recognising growth is never-ending and being happy with where I am at. An important point to understand, especially when it comes to goals and habits to improve oneself, is that really, there is always room to improve, at all times. No person can ever say they have finished growing, or that they know everything there is to know, or they’ve bettered themselves into perfection; it is a never-ending process that lasts our whole lives. I want to better myself, but I also want to be honest and not fall into the trap of moving goalposts all the time. I want to stop and celebrate when I achieve a goal and give myself the kudos I deserve; I don’t want to just move from goal to goal without digesting my achievements. They are important and deserve to be celebrated. Equally, I recognise that growing and becoming a better person is a long process that takes time and that it’s never quite “finished”. For this reason, I want to remind myself to be happy with where I am at and who I am now, to be happy with my efforts, and to trust myself that I am growing, no matter how long of a road I have in front of me.
  • About growing with other people and deepening bonds. No human being is an island. My productivity is not something that I “can only do alone” or that I should always do on my own, and there is no rule that says “good” productivity has to be done all by yourself to count. I will not shut myself out from other people while I’m being productive; but rather, whenever possible, I will share my progress, my feelings and what I’m working on with others, to encourage each other, motivate each other, and grow not just closer as friends but also as people, together. Being productive ultimately means nothing to me if I can’t share my progress and what I make with my loved ones.

 

What “productivity” is not:

To me, “productivity” is not:

  • Ignoring my friends or my partner, not spending time developing or deepening human relationships and bonds just for the sake of “doing productive things”. I very much believe that developing deep connections with my friends and partner is more enriching to my life in general than “being productive” will ever be. Being productive can have positive effects but it should not take priority over my connections with people, which I value deeply.
  • Treating my friends or my partner badly, making them feel like and thinking that the time I spend with them is “wasted” because I am not “being productive” while I’m with them. I am not here to judge my friends’ or my partner’s “productivity levels”, or how “productive” their hobbies are, and that shall not impact my friendships and relationship, as I recognise connections between people should not be based on productivity since that can be feeble and is less important than the relationships themselves.
  • Beating myself up over “not being productive”. This only makes me feel negative emotions and feeds into a cycle where I feel less creative, less inspired to work on things, and thus less likely to be productive. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that can spiral out of my control, but I am determined to not let it.
  • How I measure and relate myself to other humans. Different people have different ideas on what “being productive” entails. It is not how I want to compare myself to other people; I do not want to base my self-esteem on factors that are out of my control (such as other people’s lives and opinions).
  • Something that should take over my life. If I need a break, I will take it. If I am going through a slump or a down period, I will let it run its course and rest. My health is more important than my productivity levels, always. Productivity should not become so important to the point that I can’t allow myself to take breaks or let myself breathe when I have an off period. I want to be consistent, but I do not want productivity to take over my life (or to become more important than other equally important aspects of my life), or to compromise my happiness in any way, as it would be completely counter-productive.
  • Something that will blind me or consume my life. Sort of related to the previous point and the very first point of this list. Productivity shall not blind me to what’s important to me and what actually makes me happy and adds to my life. I shall not become blinded by my goals, chasing them constantly to the point that I forget or neglect the things and the people that matter to me and that are definitely making me happy and adding to my life. Again, this would only compromise my happiness in the long run.
  • Getting trapped in the “productivity curse”, being obsessed with constant new goals and always chasing “the next level”. That’s when productivity becomes unhealthy, life-consuming and sort of narcissistic. I absolutely do not want to get trapped in this mentality of, “I always have to be productive”, or, “I have to get to the next level” again and again. I do not want to be part of that never-ending chase “to always be even more productive”. That is when productivity blinds people to what is truly important to them and what truly makes them happy. I will not be dependant on “productivity” to be happy, or to the point that being “unproductive” actively makes me unhappy. My happiness comes from many places, not just “productivity” and I will never let my quest for productivity blind me from what truly matters or make me give up on what really makes me happy (i.e. my friends and partner).
  • The be-all end-all of who I am. I am a human being with thoughts, feelings, hobbies and dreams; I am not a machine whose only unit of measurement is how productive it is. I am not a failure simply for not being “productive” in the strict sense of the word on certain days or weeks. I still matter and am still deserving of love, compassion and respect, even when I am not “doing productive things” and all I can bring myself to do is read or play video games. (This is especially true if I’m experiencing symptoms of depression or going through a slump.)