I‘m a sucker for articles and YouTube videos that tout things like “Seven things to do on Sunday for a productive week” or “Eight things every productive mom does before 8:00 am”. The problem with these materials, and anything else that promises getting more done in less time, is that they don’t fix the root of the problem. The real issue is that it is impossible to ever be completely done. Even if I faithfully accomplish the seven steps for a productive week and finish my eight tasks before 8:00 a.m. every day, there is still more to do. It is true that these tips and life hacks may streamline some aspects of life, but the fact is I will always be busy. That’s the shortfall. We don’t identify that in today’s world of social media overload, Kickstarter campaigns promising new improvements, changing technology, personal goals, and basic revolving life requirements (like ensuring food is in the refrigerator) we just can’t get everything done.
My husband is a prime example. He is an incredible man who accomplishes so much for our family. He has an ever growing list that seems to multiply like bunnies, even though he is highly productive to the point of missing meals and not getting enough sleep. Not to mention his full-time job. He runs himself ragged and is never satisfied with what has been accomplished because his list is still so very long. He carries a burden that he perceives will only be released when his list is blank. The problem is that will never happen because the washers on the sink plumbing will eventually fail, the car tires will inevitably wear out, and there are always improvements that can be made to upgrade our house and lifestyle.
Self-awareness demands understanding limits and paying attention to what is actually possible. The focus should be on prioritizing within the parameters of abilities first, and then use the remaining time focusing on refilling your cup and not try to get everything else done. Being productive is only beneficial if it is balanced by giving ourselves permission to enjoy what is produced. Go ahead, keep your lists, be productive, and draw a line on your list with the intention to be very selective about what is prioritized above the line based on abilities and circumstances. Then, after the line is reached, give yourself permission to enjoy time being “unproductive” so you can recuperate energy for the next productive stint.