19 July 2012

Productivity Is Now A Swear Word: A Re-evaluation

I've been doing a lot of non-fic reading the last week or so, and have come across some interesting things. These, plus a combination of various life factors, have prompted some thinking about this horrible all-pervasive guilt that is like a storm cloud over my life. I have this natural tendency to believe that OHMYGOSH EVERYTHING IS MY FAULT, and not in a melodramatic, woe is me sort of way, but a genuine crap, why was I not smarter/better/more observant/whatever in order to avoid this happening? And that applied to everything, including completely illogical things that have nothing to do with me whatsoever.

I also have this ridiculous belief that I must be productive every second of every day, which perversely ends up meaning that I am LESS productive, because I procrastinate more, because there is SO MUCH PRESSURE to be productive. Yes yes, I haz Issues, I know. But this means that if I'm not careful, my to-do list can blossom out of control. This is the main thing that has made writing a chore, because once things are on that to-do list, they fall prey to the Productivity Guilt - if I am not doing it, I am feeling guilty for not doing it, which makes me hate doing it, which makes me do it less, which makes me more guilty for not doing it, which makes me hate it more, which... Well, you can see where this is going.

BUT! All the readings, and a conversation with the Boyo, and a few other things mean I am now officially Changing My Attitude (and abusing capitals): Productivity is now a swear word. I will have TIME OFF, confound it all, and let the brain breathe. Oddly enough, sticking to this a few nights last week (i.e. shutting the laptop down at 8pm, regardless of how much I hadn't acheived, instead of futzing away on it, achieving maybe three sentences between then and bedtime) meant I slept longer and better than when I didn't. When you give your brain a break, you sleep better and function more effectively?! WHO KNEW?!?!

But anyway, I'm trying to get to a point here. All of this made me think about chores, and all those things that I HAVE to do. I had a conversation with the Boyo the other day in which he essentially said that he knew I wasn't a cleaner when I married him, that he never expected me to change, and that he doesn't actually expect a spotless house and dinner on the table every night (HELLO, HE IS MINE, YOU CANNOT HAZ).

Here was the very thing I’d been longing for, surely: the permission to NOT DO MY CHORES. He didn’t care if I did them or not (well, loosely speaking), and as I was the only other adult in the house… Why do them?!

Only, of course, I still had to do them. But there was that word again: ‘had’. I didn’t ‘have’ to do them. And so the epiphanic realisation: I wanted to do them.

LE GASP. I wanted to do the chores?? What kind of insane reality was this? And yet, there it was: friends were coming for dinner, or family for the weekend, or something, and I wanted a clean house to show for it. I wanted a clean house.

Behold, my intrinsic motivation.

So now, when I catch myself moaning about doing the dishes, or vacuuming, or hanging the washing, or whatever, I force myself to rephrase. Instead of, ‘Blah, I have to do the dishes’, it’s, ‘Hmm, I’d really like to have clean dishes to eat from tonight.’ It sounds so stupidly insignificant, but the shift in thinking that it represents is HUGE.

And with that, I can kiss goodbye to just a little bit of that guilt – because if I’m doing the dishes, it’s because I want to, and if I’m not, it’s because I don’t want to – not because I’m shirking things I HAVE to do.

The things I has been readings:
Good Job and Other Things You Shouldn't Say (Unless You Want To Ruin Your Child's Life)
The Case Against Grades
Five Reasons To Stop Saying 'Good Job!'
Bad Writing Habits
Rachel Held Evans: A Year of Interviews
Imagine: How Creativity Works

--You are not allowed to comment on the fact that this post was obviously composed in two pieces, and that one is decidedly more refined and coherent than the other. I edited for six hours today. Leave my brain alone. *poke*--


Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh my gosh, what a brilliant post! Seriously, attitude is everything in life. I hold to that 100%. When I started thinking about stuff in my life as privileges and things to be grateful for - like, oh, I have a working vacuum to clean with instead of, oh, I HAVE TO VACUUM, my life got a lot more happy. :)

I'm happy you've come to a similar spot!

Amy said...

I'm glad you got something out of it! I really want to do your 21 Days of Gratitude thing sometime. <3

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