Productivity, defined as the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

When in balance, productivity is an admirable attribute that can enrich lives and serve as a catalyst for successful careers.  But productivity can also become an obsession if taken to an extreme.  This is what happened to me, and what happens to many individuals who face the pitfalls of perfectionism.

The concept of sitting and doing absolutely nothing has been quite foreign to me ever since I began battling my eating disorder.  I remember when I was younger, I had the ability to stretch out on my bed with a bag of popcorn and watch Netflix at night after a long day at school and dance practice.  Rather than berate myself and deem the relaxation lazy, I knew that I had worked hard and thus deserved the respite.

Now, I am really struggling with emptying my mind and settling my body.  I cannot seem to enjoy any of the free time here at residential because I spend the hours attempting to complete erroneous tasks and stay moving.  I am encouraged to take a breath and sit in the discomfort of “doing nothing” but I can never seem to accomplish this.

The only time I let my mind and body let go of this stress and tension is at night when it is time to go to sleep.  This is the only time I have deemed myself worthy of relaxation, the rest of the day I must be constantly moving and constantly achieving.  This never ending spiral has grown so tiresome, and I am ready to find a balance between productivity and rest.

I’ll admit that this is an ongoing challenge, and something I am working on daily.  Most of the time, the free hours feel extremely uncomfortable and I am fidgety and distracted.  When this happens, I focus on my breath and remind myself that I am worthy and deserving of down time, that every person in the world needs time for themselves in order to recharge.

The idea of constantly doing something or incessantly checking off tasks from the to do list is an impossible standard to set.  I remind myself that if I am always working with no time off, the quality of my work will decline.  My mantra has become “quality over quantity.” It is better to work in shorter bursts of intense creativity and concentration than force yourself to be productive all day.  Constant productivity is just not possible and frankly, does not make for a rewarding and satisfying life in the long run.

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