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Keeping your sanity amidst the productivity culture

How to handle self-expectations now that you're home and what the productivity culture isn't telling you

“A lot of you have been asking how we stay so productive from home”, and we’re finally here to dissect that expectation. With a sledgehammer. So, here’s a mindfuck of a fact that you need to get on board with, before we begin —

As a human being, there’s an insidious quirk to your brain that, if you let it, can drive you absolutely batshit crazy. God’s special gift to our species was that we can have thoughts about our thoughts — if you’re anxious, chances are you’re frustrated about being anxious; if you’re angry, you’re most likely guilty that you’re angry; and we can do this with just about anything. This, folks, has been very aptly called the ‘feedback loop from hell’. Stay with us on this one. “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” It might take a re-read to get it, and another rerun to understand it, but by the fourth-ish time we should have you. Alan Watts called this the ‘backwards law’, but we prefer calling it “that one quote from ‘the subtle art of not giving a f*ck’ that really made us give a f*ck”.

If we apply this quote to our lives, - to our everyday lives - it’s going to shine a flood-light on how negatively we go about our expectations from ourselves, and our perceptions of ourselves. We’re all constantly chasing the hustle, grinding twenty-five hours a day, comparing ourselves to people we don’t know, and all for what? To be more productive? Well, to be honest, it’s to seem more productive because if we asked ourselves what we need to do today to feel like our best selves, our checklists would look a lot different.

Who defined productivity? And why like this? Unfortunately, it’s a culture we’ve nourished together. Be it successful entrepreneurs and CEO’s running on no sleep, or teenagers becoming millionaires by going viral, or maybe the garbage that was YOLO, all of us unintentionally reinforced the fear of missing out and pushed the “rest is for the weak” agenda. What no one told us was that while the rush is great, anything in excess is toxic.

To put it simply — productivity is defined as doing your best, toxic productivity is defined as doing the most. And let’s just call it out because after everything we’ve been through this year, the least we can do is catch a break without hating ourselves for it. How, you ask, can we get more comfortable with rest? We’ve got you.

(Source - Unsplash)

1. Cut the noise out You know that voice in your head that keeps telling you you’re not good enough, and you’re not doing enough? Yeah, that’s not your inner voice, that’s Instagram. It might take a toll on your thumbs and that screen-time streak you’ve been trying to keep up, but challenge yourself to delete the app for one week. The accomplishment you’ll feel from this one, for many many reasons, is what “productivity” feels like.

2. Rest, in peace If sleep is for the weak, fuck it, be weak. You know that ‘do not disturb’ feature on your phone? Use it wisely, use it generously and get those eight hours.

3. Don’t set yourself up for failure You cannot have it all, and you don’t need to. It’s important to accept that we have limitations - not just the lockdown, but our own body’s and mind’s boundaries. Pushing yourself to better yourself everyday is one way to grow, yes, but first things first, pick an area you want to grow in. Stretching every limit simultaneously makes you believe that you can emerge from quarantine as a fitness influencer, a best selling author, a michelin star cook, and more, and when you don’t (because you’re human), you disappoint yourself. All we’re saying is, focus on going viral for one thing at a time.

4. Be your own Vishen Lakhiani Your intuition knows you far better than anyone can attempt to. Get comfortable with spending time with yourself, and listen to what your inner voice has to say. Vent, rant, debate and contemplate — you’re capable of making all these conversations with just yourself, if you just give yourself those few minutes of retrospection.

5. Stop playing escape room The pandemic has cost us all a lot, the extents might vary, but things have been turned on their heads. We shoot out a natural and unfortunate coping mechanism at times like these - when being futuristic comes with a heavy serving of doubt and concern - and that’s escaping. We busy ourselves, keep our minds distracted by the noise, make sure to keep moving — all of which is dangerous. If you’re someone who has been using long, tedious checklists to avoid thinking about the reality of the world, we’re not going to ask you to get help or introspect. Do us a solid and add one more thing to your checklist though - go read Factfulness.

We’ll leave you with a pro-tip — You feel productive when you accomplish what you set your mind to. And nobody said what that’s gotta be. That’s between you, and your mind.

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