This is my new series on some really basic shit that I should know by now, and yet somehow I still need to be reminded of. Maybe you do, too?
The Gazette was a newsletter in the 90s, dedicated to "Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle," and it's a hilarious and illuminating read. Author Amy Dacyczyn has a wry sense of humor and a gift for finding the juice in dry topics like the efficacy of pre-patching kids' jeans before they sprout holes, or the cost savings of using cloth versus paper napkins.
So I was flipping through this beloved book the other morning and came across an article called "A Proclivity for Productivity," which is about how Amy doesn't understand why people like to lie on beaches doing nothing. To her, doing something is far more enjoyable.
"Being busy, being productive, doing things that improve your family's long-term prospects should not be seen as drudgery to be endured until you reach the cherished goal of utter inactivity. The happiest and most successful people I know have realized a critical truth: The act of doing things is more fun that doing nothing. If this is not your current attitude, you should work to acquire it."
And, boom. My hair blew back a little at that point -- Amy was COMING FOR ME, because I am what is known in the common parlance as "a lazy whore." As a kid when I'd spend time with my thrifty, hard-working paternal grandparents, my lethargy used to drive them crazy. "HEIGHTH OF AMBITION!" my grand-dad would bellow when he'd see me lying on the couch, watching cartoons hour after hour, eating endless baloney-and-butter sandwiches.
My tendency has always been toward lying around, consuming media, and partaking in the fanciful delights of the mind, aka daydreaming. I have this part of me that just loves doing nothing so much, omg, it's THE BEST. And, when I'm deciding how to spend my time, "doing fuck-all" is often my top choice.
Which in some ways is great! Some folks have a really hard time relaxing and I feel super lucky to not have that problem, I guess?
But my proclivity for sloth-like behavior doesn't make me happy when it crowds out too much of the productive stuff I could be doing ... that I actually love to do.
Because Amy's right -- being productive is pretty fun! A work day when I can get into a flow state and knock out a slew of problems, an afternoon spent painting or writing or cleaning something that was gross when I started -- all that simply feels good, in and of itself. Plus, at the end you have a painting or a song or a clean kitchen to boot -- and there is nothing not to like about that.
So, the last few days I've been trying to pay more attention to how I choose to spend my time, so that instead of my default choice being "Put your feet up and chill," it's more often "Find something to do and do it!" And it's been good -- especially alongside taking some consciously internet-free time during the day. Bursts of productivity uncoupled from internet distraction -- it's a powerful combination.
As is my wont, I made a huge list of things that I want and need to do, and when I am looking for something to do, I just pick something and run with it. And it's been working for me! Dishes, paintings, work problems, blog posts -- I've been knocking them all out, and liking not only the results but also the way productivity makes me feel. In a world gone batshit crazy, nothing brings me more joy than to offer a few small contributions to the other side of the scale.
How about you? Are you like my grandparents, who worked constantly all day and never even sat down outside of mealtimes? Or like me, the heighth of ambition over here eating Lucky Charms in front of the television? Do you feel like you could use a productivity boost, or do you need to cultivate the ability to chill? (I am soooo good at chilling, y'all. Please feel free to request any tips.) Tell me all about it!