I love nothing more than being in bed with my feet up, a cup of tea in one hand, and my laptop placed on my lap with the newest Netflix series beaming out of the screen. It’s sad really. Some would say its tragic. Or, if you’re like me, you’d think that sounds like an ordinary Thursday evening.
I can’t help but enjoy the art of doing absolutely nothing
Don’t get me wrong – I like learning, I like to be social, and I love seeing new things. But I can’t help but enjoy the art of doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, life demands that I exist outside of my bedroom. Sluggishly, I comply.
As a third-year student, university is at the top of my list, undeniably more important than ever. When you progress through the years, you realise that, if you’re a bit of a procrastinator (like me) you must be stricter with your time to ensure your studying is not only done but done well. Sometimes you overdo it, you’re too strict with yourself and you do too much, and vice versa. There’s a healthy balance in-between somewhere, that I’ve been searching to find for a long while. Sometimes I manage it, sometimes I don’t. Suffice to say, the search continues.
Procrastination often involves a level of initial dread at the thought of doing work. Often, to control this feeling, I have tried congratulating myself with things I enjoy, for example, walking in nature to take some photos. Other ways to celebrate doing your work could be, you may say yes to that invite to the pub, or maybe you would prefer to do a workout in the gym. I have personally found that valuing even the smallest of accomplishments is an ongoing struggle, but it is a necessity to maintain a positive outlook.
We are measuring our self-worth as human beings through our productivity?
This is by no means a bad thing. But as a naturally curious person, I can’t help but wonder, is this thought process evidence that as a collective, we are measuring our self-worth as human beings through our productivity? When we develop methods to ‘combat’ or ‘beat’ procrastination, are we assessing our value by how much we can get done in the week? If we did not meet our own standards, would we go out to see friends or would we overtly self-manage, making sure everything was completed first?
When I talk of University work, there is somewhat a level of privilege with the ability to ‘choose’ whether to do it or not. I recognise that work is ultimately something you must do in order to achieve. However, as someone with high levels of stress and friends with the same issues, I really want to address the elephant in the room here. Do we rely far too much on our success as an identifiable marker of our worth?
What is productivity and self-worth anyway? I think I would describe productivity as something that ultimately fulfils a goal, often something you work towards, with lots of effort. The word itself is an economical idea, as you probably could have guessed. I would describe self-worth as the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself and whether you value yourself. These two ideas are intrinsically linked for the common working person, because to exist you (surprise, surprise) need money, and if you don’t do your work or succeed, there is a chance you won’t make the money you need in order to survive.
Education is a large part of why we relate our success to our self-worth
When you really think about it, it is not so surprising that in a world that is built on hard work, we find our inability to always perform well as evidence that we are somehow lacking as a person. Amongst other things, education is a large part of why we relate our success to our self-worth: you’re assessed, given a grade, and if you do well, you’ll get positive feedback. This feeling of accomplishment might add to your confidence and your self-worth, it might make you feel good. But in the long-term, this does not prepare us for when we don’t do as well and perceive it as inadequacy.
Whilst money and work are a necessity, so is happiness, if not more so. Personally, I think that it is more important to see friends and family, to make time for your hobbies and interests, or even to do some fulfilling volunteering, than it is to achieve a 1st on that essay you really cared about. This idea should not be controversial, yet it is for many hard-working people. It is easy to fall into the productivity = self-worth trap, it is a feeling that I often share. It is okay to feel like this, but it is also important to be curious about why we do, to observe the emotion, and to put things in place to deal with it when you are ready to.
Watching your favourite TV series (or whatever you enjoy), is an act of rebellion. Therefore, I urge you to do it. If you’re a hard-working person, you will always find a way to do your work. And you’ll do it well. But if you’re lucky enough to have some time to do things that bring you pleasure; you should take the opportunity. This involves being kinder to yourself, noticing that you can have the evening off. If you were waiting for a sign to do that, here it is. There will be plenty of time for hard-work, and sometimes it will be an unavoidable necessity.
We all deserve to enjoy ourselves more
Productivity doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as you don’t have to see it as tied to your self-worth. Self-management is done by us and reinforced by external pressures. Hopefully, this knowledge is freeing. We all deserve to enjoy ourselves more and sometimes you or your overworked friend might just need a little bit of encouragement to enjoy what spare time you do have. Take some time for yourself this week, you will thank yourself for it.
Featured image courtesy of Ariana Escobar via Flickr. No changes made to this image. Image license found here.
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