I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about productivity etc on Twitter.
I want to expand a bit on how I view productivity, as a broader concept, but first I must discuss resources.
One of the first life-altering realizations I had was back in early high school.
I hated the idea of living a tiresome, empty life.
So many of the adults I saw around me seemed to live such unfulfilling, repetitive lives. Get up, take your kids to school, go to work, pick up kids, go home and zone out with a beer in front of the TV.
I started feeling like we had a tendency to forget why we do things.
I was trying to excel at school, then, so I could get into college, where I’d work hard and rack up a bunch of debt, in order to earn that piece of paper that might mean I get a decent job later.
We want those jobs because they offer financial security.
But what is money?
What is it for, if it does not improve the quality of our lives?
If I’d been more prescient back then, I probably could have realized back then that I’d never end up finishing college, and saved myself some headaches later.
We think of money as worth more than some nebulous number in a bank account- sometimes.
“Time is money.”
I propose we think bigger.
Why is time, money?
It takes time to make money. They are both resources, both limited resources.
And if we take this a step further- it’s not just time and money that are valuable, limited resources in our daily lives.
I’m not talking about things like stock portfolios. Those are, to me, different ways of saying ‘money’.
I’m talking about emotional resources. Everything has potential costs, potential values.
Jobs do not just take time. They add stress.
They take up our attention, which may be our most valuable resource.
Today, I had trouble summoning the energy to work a full day.
Luckily, I have the kind of job where I can stop when I choose to.
No. That’s not luck. That was a choice.
But at any rate- despite how motivated I am to make enough money to move out of Redding – it isn’t enough.
I don’t feel productive enough, delivering food all day, every day.
I make more money, yes.
But what is it worth, when I am not making the world a better place, as well?
So I chose to come home, and write. This means it will take longer for me to move. It will take longer for me to get to a housing situation that is more ideal for even doing things like writing, more.
But I will feel better doing it.
I believe that we limit ourselves when we think of productivity only in terms of tangible, short term values.
I believe that it is beneficial to, instead – think of productivity in terms of resources, broadly.
Even those that are not so tangible. Not so short term.
Framed in such a way- I am being far more productive right now than I was at work, because feeling like I am working towards achieving some good in this world, beyond that which is reflected in my bank account- gives me the kind of drive that I need in order to get those ten hour days in.
Framed in such a way- all the time I take out to do nothing but play with my cats, is not time wasted.
I am being productive then also, because I’m improving the quality of life of these two living beings that I chose to take into my care.
Framed in such a way- taking time to rest, to practice self-care; these are not laziness.
They are refuelling.
Changing how I frame things like this, it’s not a placebo effect. Placebo effects are instant, and transitory.
This kind of thing, it’s the opposite. In every way.
It’s in the very word. A frame is something through which we view.
It is fundamental.
It is powerful.
These kinds of shifts in paradigms, they are not instant.
They take time, take work.
They require repetition; an undoing of those others we are done with.
But our brains change.
Our framing, changes.
And we can choose the direction of those changes.