Sunday, March 04, 2012

On productivity and being kind to yourself

Grumpy Rumbings of the Untenured posted recently about why people whine about their lack of productivity.  It got me thinking, because I love discussions on productivity, tips and tricks, and anything related to time-management.

I'm in a slump.  I'm getting the bare minimum done around the house. I'm two weeks behind on Project Life (sad!), do laundry when we run out of something (it's usually TJ's socks) and lately our meals have been a lot of assembled leftovers and random fridge-pantry antipasti.  I call it that because it sounds better than "I found some freeze dried raspberries, deli ham and some nuts.  Let's eat those for lunch."

So right now, I'm not maximizing my productivity.  I'm keeping things running (just barely).  I've ditched any unnecessary tasks, because I just don't feel like doing them.  I've declined some play dates for T because our calendar is pretty full with 3 days of preschool, Little Gym, and Spanish class.

And instead of beating myself up about it, I'm ok with all of that. 

I don't think we as Americans, and maybe it's specific to women, cut ourselves enough slack.  It seems like there's some kind of reward or goal to being busy ALL THE TIME.  We talk about how much we're doing, how our schedules are packed, how we manage to balance work + home + hobbies + kids + marriage + exercise and fall into bed exhausted after our 18 hour days, only to wake up at 6am and start all over again.

Yes, it's a nice compliment when people say "I don't know how you do it."  But you know what else is nice?  Lounging on the couch with a book while your toddler plays quietly nearby.  No playdate, no planned enrichment activity, no frantically trying to complete chores while the kid is occupied.  Just quiet, and two people engrossed in something they like.

I've read 6 or 7 books in the last month which is more fiction than I read all of last year. 

I haven't organized our digital photos like I planned, or finished the 2011 photo book (or 2010 for that matter!).  Our pantry is still a disaster zone and the IKEA space saving shelves I bought are still in their original packaging, unassembled.

But you know what?  That's ok.  I don't feel like doing that stuff now.  My family isn't suffering because I didn't do it.  I'm being kind to myself, and true to my One Little Word, REDUCE, by not doing this extra credit work.

Today I sat down and made a necklace *for myself*.  I never make stuff for myself - nearly everything goes into the shop.  I know I could sell it, but I wanted an extra-long chunky necklace.  So this one is mine:

I do have one little tip for those who are feeling slumpy and sluggish.  Choose just one or two things you *must* get done (no more than two!).  Do those first, or as soon as you can get them out of the way.  Then be kind to yourself and allow yourself to do NOTHING the rest of the day.  You finished your must-dos, which is an accomplishment in itself.  Give yourself credit for that.

Be kind to yourselves, people.


  1. I discovered very quickly that it's far too easy to get overscheduled. And you may not notice it now, but little T will probably let you know at some point that she feels that way, too.

    At some point in kindergarten, the younger boy started refusing to go to gymnastics because we switched to the Saturday class. He was adamant that Saturday was a "stay at home" day, and he wasn't going anywhere, period.

    We now have a rule that there are no more than 2 non-school extra-curriculars. He's in chess club (which is after school, so not a big deal) and scouts. He also has a choice of one sport, and once he gets past his current level in swimming, he's talked about swim team. Still...even that is awfully difficult to handle with everything else going on. He's asked to join other things...but we had to just say no because it was too difficult for Mike and I to keep everything going smoothly (especially if I have to be doing things with the older boy and taking the dog to obedience classes).'re absolutely right!

  2. @Cherish - I love that he took a stand on Saturdays :)

    Yes, even with a toddler, it's so easy to get overscheduled. Mostly because I look at each commitment in a vacuum rather than looking at the week as a whole, for example.

    We had a one-activity rule, too, but I wanted to squeeze Spanish class in there and so far we're both enjoying it. We'll see how we feel at the end of the quarter.

    I can't imagine working that all out with 2, plus a full time job...

  3. YES. I actually started learning to say "no" to things at Tech and got better at it by observing someone I worked with for a few years. At first I thought she was being rigid, but then I realized she was just not willing to compromise on a few particular things that were important to her.

    I've recently come out of a dinner slump. The kids threw me in there by refusing to eat, well, everything. I solved that by finding 3-4 simple / quick meals that they're willing to eat and now I cook something for David and I and if they don't want it, I make one of the "stock" meals for them. Everything has an ebb and flow, you know?

  4. I like this post! And I love the concept of "fridge-pantry antipasti" sounds so catchy.

    On my mother's side, I come from a long line of people (male and female) who are unable to just relax. They always have projects. And so do I.

    But my Dad- boy, he knows how to do nothing. I wish I had gotten a little more of that trait from him, and a little less of the tendency to freak out for no reason while traveling (for instance).

  5. We call that kind of dinner "hodge podge" - the kind where you open the fridge, reach in and grab the first thing you see, serve it for dinner. There's no shame :).

    I LOVE that new necklace you made. I'd love to see it with your favourite outfit!

  6. @Stephanie - I like that you've solved the dinner issue. I read in a book somewhere, Ellyn Satter's, probably, the idea of having an "alternate meal" that kids can choose if they don't want what's being offered. Like cereal and milk or PB&J. I'll need to consider that as T is getting pickier.

  7. @Cloud - it takes practice to be comfortable with doing nothing. My husband is MUCH better at it than I am, but in the past several weeks, I am improving.

    @Lynn - thanks for the compliments re: necklace. I don't have a favorite outfit right now - been schlumping around in sweats :( I need to fix that too, when I've got more motivation...

  8. Yes, have been thinking along the same lines past few weeks and have been following it too, so completely relate to what you say. Also, Pretty Necklace!! Its nice that you kept it for yourself :)

  9. Just "keeping things running (just barely)" is good enough. I'm all about the Just Do The Good Enough.

    Oh man, I frickin' LOVE the occasional lazy day.

    And a huge AMEN to all of this: "I don't think we as Americans, and maybe it's specific to women, cut ourselves enough slack. It seems like there's some kind of reward or goal to being busy ALL THE TIME. We talk about how much we're doing, how our schedules are packed, how we manage to balance work + home + hobbies + kids + marriage + exercise and fall into bed exhausted after our 18 hour days, only to wake up at 6am and start all over again."

  10. And I forgot to say - lovely necklace! yay for you for keeping it for yourself!!

  11. @Mom - thank you! I forgot to wear it to work today, after all that.

    @hush - Yay for the Good Enough Club.

  12. I used to be really good at doing nothing, and I'm still good when on vacation, but as I got older and with kids, I seem to have forgotten how!

  13. Love this! Thanks for the reminder. I tend to have Very Productive times and Big Slumps, and I'm getting a little better about going with the flow, but I still slip & beat myself up, comparing myself to some idea of How It Should Be Done.

    Being satisfied with "Good Enough" has come across my radar a lot since becoming a mom. I think I was more easily able to be satisfied with everyone being alive, possibly in clean clothes, and fed by the end of the day when DS was younger!

  14. PS great necklace!

  15. This post really made me smile. As I was reading it, I could feel myself relaxing and breathing more easily. Thanks for helping me to be kinder to myself right now, in this moment.


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