I’m not sure I like the expectation that the word ‘productivity’ sets for us. The whole, ‘this day has been a waste, I haven’t been productive’ mindset is fairly counter to general feeling that humans have inherent worth, and that that worth isn’t outcome-dependent.
Sometimes, you can’t be productive. That is, the things you put effort into don’t produce results. That’s all that productivity boils down to, right? So it places an expectation that a day lived is only worth having lived if you have something to show for it. Your mood becomes dictated by what you do, and if you don’t do very much, well sorry pal, but you’ve just wasted some of your finite life on this planet.
It’s especially brutal if you wake up later than anticipated. Last night, I slept really well. But I woke up badly. Probably because the sleep was so good. It’s framed the entire day negatively, because I’d failed from the minute I woke up. That is not a healthy thing to be greeted with the minute you day begins.
Why did I feel guilty? Because there were two precious hours I now didn’t have to do things with. I had lost some productivity. My appraisal of myself had declined as a result of diminished output. When you phrase it like that, it suddenly sounds very industrious. You might describe a piece of machinery, or a line of code, in such cold and unthinking terms, but when you apply that to a living, feeling human, it starts to feel a little harsh.
Let’s stop being harsh on ourselves. Let’s not be productive.
Instead, let’s be energised. Let’s reward ourselves for sincere effort to make a difference, on whatever scale that difference might need to occur on, not for outcomes gained. This isn’t the equivalent of a participation award — you still have to be engaged in a practice that works towards a worthwhile goal. There’s no prizes for sitting around doing shit all with your day, and you don’t get a free pass for royally fucking up just because you did your best. This isn’t absolution of the consequences of your engagement with the world around you.
This a recognition that value isn’t always measured in neat little discrete chunks of processes that occur within a given day, as much as an overly-industrialised society would like you to believe that. It’s more global than that. It’s more holistic than that.
You win by virtue of the fact you haven’t lost.
Have a bloody lovely evening.
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About the curator - Matt Jenko
Hi my name is Matt, but my friends call me Matt. I’m on the wrong side of 29 (damn I hate it every time I have to update that number), definitely feeling my age, but never felt happier and more content than I do at this point in my life. I’ve been through some rocky patches (who hasn’t) and lived to tell the tale, and boy do I gots some stories.
When I’m not giving opinions absolutely nobody asked for, I’m doing a worldbuilding with my passion project, vivaellipsis. If you like offbeat nonsense delivered through immersive escapism, then go and get involved. Or don’t, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m not yer boss.
I’m a simple man with simple interests. I like Yorkshire tea, the sound of rain on the window, and a bloody good story.
9 August 2021
What today’s insight has granted me is the knowledge that if you don’t check in on yourself, you’ll lose touch with yourself. You’ll become unfamiliar with each other, and it feels very strange. I honestly think this is what it means to feel out of sorts.
27 May 2021
The cinematic score to your psychological journey with Matt Jenko. Featuring artists like: Bonobo • Yotto • Emancipator • CamelPhat • ODESZA • Carpenter Brut • Tinlicker • Four Tet • Jacques Greene • Tchami • RÜFÜS DU SOL