For the past two weeks, I've been battling with my computer. Usually we're besties! Sometimes I even have to put my foot down to make sure we get time apart, because otherwise we'd spend too much time gazing into each others eyes and stop really valuing our time together, you know?
What changed? My beloved laptop has eaten it's logic board twice, spent 9 of 14 days in the back room at Apple awaiting repairs, and I've been scurrying to make sure that absolutely everything I work on is backed up or living in “the cloud” so I can keep everything in my world moving forward. It's needed over $1000 in parts and labour (thank goodness it was covered by Applecare!) and required hours of troubleshooting and trips to the laptop infirmary.
Usually I keep a tight schedule with my web design clients. Being on time or ahead of schedule is something I see in terms of my professionalism and integrity. It's a natural feeling for anyone who values what they do and has become a powerful part of how I think about myself and my work. As my computer died it's multiple fiery deaths the inevitable and dreaded happened: I fell behind schedule.
(If you weren't previously picturing me by a campfire, lit by a flashlight, please start now. We're in work/life balance horror story mode!)
No matter what I did, I was losing time to something completely out of my control. The more delayed I got, the more panic set in. The more I panicked, the less I was able to work when I finally did have time!
I “productivity shamed” myself into being so stressed out that I couldn't get anything done.
After a week of trying to work fast, as hard as I could for as long as I could, I was floundering. Not only that, but I didn't see the great results I expected. I realized that the answer was simple, though it felt counter intuitive to my busybody brain.
I needed to breathe deeply and slow down. I needed to give myself permission to get the rest I need, to take breaks during my day, to make delicious food, and to stop with the unattainable To Do lists. I needed to start focusing on what I was doing at any given moment.
Not only did my overwhelm melt away, but miraculously I've worked less and made up time by giving what's in front of me at any given time my full attention.
Now that life is returning to normal and my computer is finally back I'm downright giddy about my attitude adjustment. I'm not throwing my schedule out the window, but clearly got the message that measuring my self worth by my productivity was exhausting and ineffective. For me whats more than enough reason to work on kicking the habit!
Five Reasons To Stop Defining Your
Self Worth By Your Productivity
1. When you rush, you skip being in the moment.
This is how weeks, months and years of your life can evaporate out from under you. The trick is that if you focus on what's happening right now and hold your attention there for a while, time will seem to expand out and seem to last longer than before. Try focusing on your sensations for a while (think about what you're feeling, hearing and seeing in the moment and try to hold your attention there for 5 – 10 mins). With some practice, your body and mind will start to calm down, and that cool, calm and collected version you can make better decisions. Try it out, it's like discovering a secret superpower!
2. You risk buying your own bullshit story of being busy & at the mercy of whatever comes your way.
If you tell yourself that your life is crazy and you don't have time for XYZ, you're effectively handing over control of your life to unseen, uncaring forces outside yourself. Once you convince yourself that you have no time and can only react, it's not a huge leap to start feeling helpless. And you can't kick ass at anything when you've been conquered! Don't forget that you always have the ability to set boundaries and make time for your priorities. Armed with that, you really can accomplish whatever you want.
3. How you feel during your work day defines a huge part of your life.
We work for most of our lives, and if you get sucked into productivity shaming yourself you'll be at risk for burn out, stress, and everything that comes with that from illness to relationship issues. More than that, you'll spend most of your time at work – which is most of your life, by the way – desperately trying to prove your worth on a daily basis, instead of owning it and just doing great work! If you can step out of that cycle, you'll save yourself a lot of heartache and exhaustion… and you might find that you like your job a lot more than you thought.
4. Speed doesn't account for the impact you make or meaning you create.
Maya Angelou wrote that “people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. When you start using productivity as your main metric you might get a lot done (though how well it's done may be up for debate), but you're leaving something critical out of the equation. There's meaning behind everything you do, and that counts. Your actions can have a positive or negative impact on the people around you, and that matters. And the intention you bring to each moment matters too. And not in a small way: over time they add up to become your actions, and your actions add up to become your character. When you skip acknowledging these pieces of your life they don't stop being important- but they will start suffer.
5. Your value is so much bigger than your typing speed, schedule or To Do list.
You are unique, mysterious and wonderful from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, and beyond. You bring a combination of skill, experience and savvy to the table that literally no one else has to offer! Why take that for granted? Each of us has a huge potential to make waves in the world and in the lives we brush up against- but you can't participate in that if you're not paying attention or are too wrapped up in your expectations.
If you're worth more than your To Do list,
your definition of success should be bigger than productivity!
Have you pinned how you value yourself to one area of your life? How did you get out of that spiral?
I mean, come on. We haven't even touched relationships… ;)