Monday, June 10, 2013

Illusions of Productivity

I don't know about you, but I really struggle with productivity from day to day. There are so many things I need to do, things I could do, things I should do (but don't) and things I actually do. The need-to-do list is probably pretty similar to most moms': things like tending to my girls' needs, housework, laundry, cooking, work, church, and errands. Things I could do: spend more time praying, reading, meaningful time with my family, watch more TV shows I enjoy, get the idea.

The things I should do list overlaps a lot with the could-do, though I probably wouldn't include TV on that one. I try not to dwell too much on what I'm not doing that I could be - that list has the potential to be miles long. The last one, things I actually do, is probably the one I ought to dwell on a little more. I have a theory that our brains are wired to be busy, not to necessarily register the necessity of that busy-ness. So for example, if I spend twenty minutes on Facebook or searching something online, my brain feels like I accomplished something. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. (For the record, I didn't spend any time googling that). But that illusion of productivity persists either way.

Don't get me wrong - as a blogger, I'm a big fan of social media. Sometimes, though, I have to remind myself to unplug. I have an easier time focusing on those need-to-do things when I do. I read in a book the other night that as a culture, we've managed to find the time and money to connect ourselves constantly via the Internet over the last few decades. We also have collectively redefined the concept of the family dinner and outsourced most of our food preparation over the same time period. As a trade-off, I don't think this is such a great one. Obviously, not everyone spends all their cooking time on the computer or phone, but if I wonder where I'd find the time to make three meals a day or do anything else on my should list, I suppose that might be it.

Obviously, as humans we're wired to be social creatures. This means that we are drawn to seek other humans, and so social media is very appealing - and even necessary for our mental and emotional health, in my opinion. The illusion of productivity, however, can be a trap. We're all given the same number of hours in a day. It's how we use them that makes them count. My goal, therefore, for this week, is to spend less time checking my phone and more time living this beautiful, blessed life of mine. I'll still spend time blogging - probably a little more than normal - but I'm hoping to find some balance within the should, the could, and the actually.

What are your goals for the week?


  1. My big goal this week is to actually wake up in the morning. My alarm (and the baby) start at about 5:30. I take the baby into bed and then proceed to snooze until about 7:15... today the baby slept in, but I was up and stayed up at 5:30 (even though I didn't actually get out of bed until 6.) Baby steps!

  2. My goal is to get my two papers written. Is that cheating since I really have no choice there?

  3. I made myself a daily schedule for weekdays. I know that I can't always stick to it, and I rarely get it all done, but it's a nice guideline to keep me on track :) For example: it is naptime right now. So, that means that I catch up on freelance work, read a few blogs, and read my book. When the kids wake, it's lunch and outside time!