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”.