I’ve had a very productive day – I’ve rested

How do you define “productive”?

The question just came up in a conversation online, and I thought: we tend to look at rest and recreation as unproductive time but it isn’t really, it produces something very important – it produces an ability within us to do the other stuff that we do, the stuff that we normally label “productive”.

Today I have not done much that would normally count as “productive” – ok, I did some laundry and I’ve thrown a casserole in the oven for supper, but mainly I needed to rest and chill out today and that’s what I’ve been doing. Because once in a while I need to stop and recharge my batteries. When you plug something into the electricity to recharge, is that not productive?

I suppose the question we tend to ask when we weigh up whether our time was spent productively is: what did we achieve? And normally we tend to measure our achievements by certain standards – if you’re a writer then achievement would be measured by stuff like how many words you’ve written, if you’re a farmer then it’s your crops, if you work in a factory then there are things that you help make, if you’re an accountant you produce accounts, etc etc… But that time that you spent sitting on a bench and looking at the sky, what did you achieve by doing that? Maybe you achieved a level of peace. Isn’t that worth something? Not just to you but to the people you interact with, as you’ll be able to be much more patient with them. Or the time you spent thinking, reflecting, even daydreaming – so useful for getting your creativity going, or for working out how to solve your problems. Pauses are so useful – don’t dismiss them as “unproductive”.

2 thoughts on “I’ve had a very productive day – I’ve rested

  1. wow. just found this tab open with my reply un-submitted. here you go:

    i feel productive when i see measurable progress in whatever i need to accomplish that day. i also tend to feel refreshed after a productive day.

    some days i end up hanging out with friends (either on the phone or in actual physical proximity). i tend to feel very unproductive on those days. but i do it because i know there is still value in hanging out with my friends. i’m generally exhausted after hanging out with people, so it feels like work to me. i used to get depressed afterwards both because i was drained and because i’d “gotten nothing done.” but now i try to think of a hanging out with people day as a two stage event. first we hang out. then i recharge. i think acknowledging my need to recharge has helped me feel better about how the day went.

    i suppose i feel most productive when i feel energized at the end of the day by whatever it is that i’ve done.


    • As a fellow introvert I’m obviously nodding wildly at the need to recharge after social time, and feeling drained after hanging out with friends. And that feeling of “I’ve got nothing done” is a frustration I’ve heard my husband voice – he’s an introvert too, and he’s much more of a “getting things done” person than I am, and I think you are too. I guess the thing is for each of us to find the right balance for our own needs – e.g. acknowledging your need to recharge after social time – and not beat ourselves over the head for having times that seem less productive, because without taking time out when we need it, our general productivity won’t be all that brilliant.


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