3 Reason Why It’s OK That You’re Not Productive

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Hey Sweet Friend:

Not feeling productive lately? Hey, I feel ya! It happens to the best of us.

Periods of non-productivity are normal. But it can come with a ton of stress.

If you’re struggling with being productive and feeling down about it, I’m here to turn that frown upside down. Let’s talk about it <3

Redefine Productivity

 Woman in Black V Neck Shirt Wearing Eyeglasses Twirling a Pencil in her Hair

First and foremost, sweet friend, you are defined by so much more than your productivity. And I’m willing to bet that you are typically far more productive than you think. Capitalism has us convinced that our value is specifically tied to the things we are paid for. The work we do that helps us earn a living.

And, hey, that work can sometimes be marvelous! But it does not, by any means, define your value.

You are still being productive when you paint for fun. You’re still doing important work when you write something just for you. When you decide to explore the neighbourhood or discover a new hobby, boom, still productive!

Hustle culture doesn’t get to decide what success looks like for you. It can’t dictate whether or not you’re being productive in a way that’s fulfilling for you. Only you get to decide those things.

A woman sits on her bed and lights a candle on her bedside table, an action that seems like it's not productive but is actually a good form of self-care

Your happiness, the pursuits you feel passionate about, the hobbies you love… they all hold value and lend far more weight to your personal success than whatever capitalism dictates. You are more than the money you make.

So if you aren’t feeling productive, I encourage you to look at all of the amazing things that you’re accomplishing, even if the only thing they accomplish is creating happiness. Because that stuff matters darling. It matters so much! A happy, fulfilled you can go out there and take on the world with so much more fervor than a drained you ever could. “Selfish” productivity, or productivity without a paycheque, is totally valid.

Related: 4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Need To Make Time To Do Nothing

Give Yourself a Break

A woman resting on the couch

Even with all that in mind, if you’re not productive at all, even in self-fulfilling ways, you are still incredibly valuable and wonderful. Sometimes the only thing we can accomplish is surviving. Life can get tough. There may be times when you have no energy and nothing much to give and that’s ok!

Take the opportunity to take a break and cut yourself some slack. Rest, recharge, be gentle with yourself and know that you have not lost your value. Even when you’re not productive, you are so incredibly important and needed.

Related: Exhausted? You Should Absolutely Take a Break (I Just Did)

Know that It’s Normal

A woman sits in front of her computer, looking away as if in deep thought

Bonus, science shows us that being unable to focus in times of high stress is totally normal. 

According to Dr. Amy Arnsten, a Yale neuroscience professor, your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that helps you focus and think critically, shuts down when things get overly stressful. This is to help you react on impulse and protect yourself in what your brain has decided is a dangerous time. But it also makes it pretty darn hard to be productive. (source)

Your struggle is valid and normal, darling. Don’t be afraid to lean on some shoulders while you work through it. We all need support sometimes.

Talk to your doctor and/or therapist if this is an on-going struggle. Sometimes depression or other mental health struggles can make it pretty darn hard to be productive, even in ways that typically bring you joy. If you’re struggling, you deserve tons and tons of love and support to help you through.

Related: How To Reduce Stress – 6 Fantastic Tips From Psychiatrists

In The End

Someone rests their legs up on a chair, we can see that they're wearing Nike sneakers

You are more than your productivity. It’s ok if your productivity looks different than someone else’s, if it naturally fluctuates, or if you’re more focused on personal productivity at this time. It’s also ok if you’re struggling right now and being productive is an impossibility. You do not owe the world productivity and your productivity doesn’t equate your value.

Be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can.

Health and love,

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Thought of the day: Your magic makes the world brighter

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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.

12 Comments

  1. Reply

    Maryann Auger

    September 2, 2022

    Thank you for this lovely reminder to be extra kind to ourselves. Resting is productive!

  2. Reply

    Beth Pierce

    September 3, 2022

    Yes! We are not machines, we are human beings. We can’t be productive every waking hour. It’s impossible, and it’s unhealthy to try.

  3. Reply

    Ntensibe Edgar

    September 3, 2022

    Nnniiiccceeeee…being “unproductive” is so normal and it only calls for us to take a break! It’s what I do, at least.

  4. Reply

    Alita pacio

    September 3, 2022

    I havent been productive lately and my routines are distracted. Thank you for this important reminder that it’s okay to be unproductive sometimes. We all need a break!

  5. Reply

    Stephanie

    September 3, 2022

    I definitely go through phases of high productivity then some lazy days. I feel like as long as you are balanced and still getting done what you need to, it’s healthy to have a day or two without taking on too much.

  6. Reply

    Nyxinked

    September 3, 2022

    I really need to be reminded that I don’t have to be productive all the time. I struggle to stop myself.

  7. Reply

    Rose Ann Sales

    September 3, 2022

    I absolutely agree with this! It’s okay to feel unproductive. Taking a rest is also a really important thing to do.

  8. Reply

    Kristy B

    September 4, 2022

    I was raised in the “hustle” generation. And, while I’m glad that I have a good work ethic, I have days where I need to rest! Sometimes my body needs to recharge.

  9. Reply

    Fransic verso

    September 4, 2022

    Taking a break is nice and it help you gain more energy to be productive. Thank you for sharing these tips!

  10. Reply

    Jennifer Prince

    September 4, 2022

    This is really good! Sometimes I think we put pressure on ourselves unnecessarily. Our society seems to take pride in being busy.

  11. Reply

    Nish

    September 5, 2022

    I had a lot of trouble focusing and being productive last year. I realized later on, it was because of the incredible amount of stress I was under. It can really be a killer to productivity.

  12. Reply

    Elise Ho

    September 6, 2022

    Sometimes we are more productive than we give ourselves credit for. Other times we just put too much on ourselves

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