In Defense of Unproductivity
Zulie Rane

Wow. I love this piece so much I wish I could highlight the whole thing.

Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

It would defeat the purpose, of course.

I’m always glad when I see someone advocating stopping to enjoy life instead of mandatory breaks so that you can continue to slave away not only as your worker but as your own boss, which is double the work and double the stress.

I was lucky to discover how important taking time off to do things “without expectations” as you put it is a few years ago. I was doing an internship, going to college and working on a side project at the same time, “maximizing” my time and productivity, working 16 to 18 hours a day, with one or two hours for pauses so that I could continue to be productive.

It’s not surprising that I burnt out in a year. I just couldn’t take it anymore. What’s worse, I felt terrible about it, because I was “wasting time being burnt out” that I should have being using to be productive. Depression greeted me like an old friend.

My notoriously good health was in taters, something that three years latter I still haven’t fully recovered from. I’m 25 with the body of a healthy fifty-year-old.

That’s about when I gave up. I gave up on trying to push myself to be more and more productive, to “get ahead” faster and, if I’m being honest, to achieve all my life goals before I turned 30.

For me, success is similar to what it is for you. I want a little farm up in the mountains, one that has a stream or pond, a small orchard, a few animals and a herb garden. I’d like to not need to worry about money, and be able to leisurely spend my time working on my plants and smoking things, as well as making all sorts of jams and preserves. That is the life I want.

And I was slaving away to achieve that, and making progress too. But ultimately, there’s no point in reaching your goals if you won’t be able to enjoy them.

So I stopped caring. No, that’s not quite true. I stopped rushing.

I stopped putting off being able to just do nothing without expectations, and started doing it now. I started living the lifestyle I want now, in smaller doses.

Turns out it made me more productive too. By not spreading myself so thin, when I am doing something productive I’m much more so than I use too. But more importantly, I’m actually happy now, instead of marginally satisfied that I’m producing.

Thank you again for such a wonderful piece.