In our late-capitalist society, the harmful insistence on equating productivity with worth has left many unable to ever truly just relax, apparently. The overemphasis on achievement and devaluation of rest make for a toxic cocktail. The hangover? Burnout and dissatisfaction. The following are ways to identify the curse of productivity and how to pretend that you have that.
Text your friends abject lies.
Think back to even the early days of grade school — the place you were first primed to become a “productive” member of society. Were you ever rewarded or praised for slowing down? For taking a break, or setting a more personally sustainable pace? Most people weren’t, and then some of them internalized that in this really intense way that you can’t relate to in the slightest. However, you too can nod along with the woes of the successful. Start simple by texting your friends, “Anyone else unable to just chill for a day without feeling totally guilty?” You could chill all day every day and feel great, but you feel guilty enough about that, that you’re lying about it. Maybe you sort of do have it!
Talk about how busy you are all the time.
Many use productivity as an unhealthy coping mechanism. If you stay busy during all waking hours, you don’t have time to think about less visible issues like mental health or personal relationships. Maybe these people don’t know that you can just watch seven hours of prestige television, or even spend all day worrying about your mental health and personal relationships and still just as effectively do nothing to address them. Whatever the case, you can pretend you’re in the same boat by loudly lamenting, “I know I should be in therapy, but I just don’t have the time!” Working stiffs and over-achievers will take you as one of their own, and they don’t have to know that you don’t have time because your top priority is doing absolutely nothing.
Downplay your dreams of true happiness and self-fulfillment.
The curse of productivity’s influence even extends into how we dream and dare to imagine our best lives. It’s common to set goals that involve promotions or clear-cut accomplishments, but what about striving for happiness and emotional fulfillment? Ugh! It’s so annoying to just not be able to stop working and working and getting things done in a demonstrable way so that you don’t have time to chase the elusive and amorphous concept of happiness. At least, that’s the sort of thing you’ll be saying when you affect concern for a problem you don’t have.
So learn to look out for the many insidious ways the curse of productivity infiltrates everyday life, and then pretend you’re faced with them. Ah, discomfort with doing nothing? Couldn’t be you!