I am that person who creates schedules and to-do lists. I like feeling organized and on-track, so when I get off track, I start to feel guilty. The little voice in my head starts telling me I am not working hard enough, not working as hard as my peers, and I’ll never get anywhere with this work ethic. Harsh, right? But I’m just being honest. That little voice in our heads is the primary cause of guilt when we aren’t being as productive as we think we should be.
Yesterday was a prime example— I’d scheduled the filming of 2 youtube videos (yes, I’m starting a youtube channel, woohoo!) and 4 Instagram reels, but I could only film 1 Instagram reel in-between other things I had going on. Today I feel tired and drained and would rather rest than write this blog post but here I am writing this blog post. It is a constant battle between what I scheduled myself to do and what I’m feeling up to doing.
My struggle is feeling guilty when I take breaks instead of doing what I’d planned to do or when I take breaks instead of trying to catch up with what I was suppose to have done.
As a society, we have internalized the idea that productivity equals success. If we aren’t as productive as our peers, we will get left behind and that little voice in our heads will not let us forget it. This is especially true for success driven people who pride themselves on working hard. The way that most people think of productivity is synonymous with being inventive, vigorous, effective. A highly productive person gets things done. The question is Do we need to be productive all the time in order to be successful?
Forced productivity could help move the needle forward on important tasks. I genuinely believe effort creates energy, meaning that if you can just get started doing the thing you said you would do, then you’d gain momentum as you do it. That is literally the case as I write this post, I am feeling more motivated with each sentence to continue writing.
On the other hand, forced productivity could hinder creativity. There is something to be said about creating when you feel the most creative. At the height of your creative energy you will (I assume) create higher quality work.
So should we push ourselves to be more productive or not?
I think it’s a mixture of both. In my case I’ve become really good at just getting started even if I’m not up to the task, but not so good at giving myself grace for taking an unscheduled break. Both are healthy and important to keeping a balanced mental state. It also helps negate negative self-talk. Giving yourself permission to take breaks, guilt free, will allow you to be creative when creativity strikes (and not when the schedule says so). Besides, if you plan ahead, there is usually time to adjust to changes.
Okay, I think this pep talk has helped me ease my guilt (ha!) and get me back on track. I hope it has inspired some of you as well! Save this post and come back to it when you start to feel guilty about “not working as hard as you should be.”
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Cat Marte is a Small Business Coach + Social Media Strategist who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using online marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.