How to Stay Productive When You Have Too Much Shit to Do
About a month ago I moved. It wasn’t a drastic life changing move, I went from living in a suburb of sorts, to just outside downtown St. Pete, but despite not being terribly far, it still felt like it dragged my life to a halt.
There was gathering the deposits, moving all of our stuff (I have three roommates), unpacking, and then I had to find a job here. It was a very stressful couple of weeks. You know how moving goes, everyone’s had to do it, and everyone knows it sucks. This is just one of many different things in life that absolutely has to be handled. If you don’t deal with it, you end up homeless or living on a friend’s couch for six months.
These things always seem daunting and exhausting, and it’s easy to feel like if you don’t spend all of your mental energy on them then they aren’t going to get done right or in time. Then there’s the feeling that when you finally do have a moment to breathe, it feels like just going to work on your side hustle in that moment is going to break you. Sure you could sit down and write that blog post, or shoot that sketch, or design a campaign to monetize these things, but you’ve been working hard on moving. You deserve to sit back, relax, and fight the alien menace for a bit in XCOM 2.
And maybe you do deserve that. I felt like I did, but then when I beat the game the feeling didn’t go away. The feeling that just doing the things I'm passionate about would break me. Just the idea of writing something or shooting something filled me with anxiety. I kept wondering when I would feel relaxed enough in this new setting to be able to put pen to paper and create something again. It’s been a month since I've written anything.
Now, I was still pretending like I was getting shit done. I’ve done three interviews with breweries in the area for the documentary we’re working on and I've had preliminary conversations with several others about setting up interview appointments. It’s coming along nicely. I filmed a sketch during that time period that I think is pretty funny, and if you look at me in the video, you might not notice that the entire time I'm just going through the motions, and that I'm constantly beating myself up in my head because I don’t want to be doing it, and that I still can’t write anything, but I am.
So, how do you stay productive when life says you have shit to do?
Now a lot of people post articles with titles like this, and they have some arbitrary answer in them that is supposed to solve all of your problems. I don’t have that answer or else I would just do that thing. I don’t know what would have prevented this slump that made me feel like I just lost a month of creativity. A month of productivity. Every time I drop the ball, I feel like I lose all the steam I've built up, and it’s going to be that much harder to start again. I know now, sitting here and writing this, that I didn’t have anything to be afraid of or worried about.
I don’t have answers, but I do have a suggestion. When and if you feel like this, talk to someone first and foremost. Just being creative is what always helps me the most. Just talking about an idea for a funny sketch, or planning out a web series always makes me feel like I can see the light again. Use your creativity as a god damned grappling hook to pull yourself out of whatever bullshit you’re feeling, because it’s as strong as you allow it to be.
Second, just do it. Make yourself do it. If I had just made myself sit down and write anything a month ago while I was moving, despite all the stress, I would have realized that this is my escape, not my burden. Sure, scheduling those meetings with the breweries is a means to what will hopefully be a rad end, and filming a sketch can be fun, but writing is the one time that I truly feel like myself. I would have been glad to come here and write about what I was going through, and alleviate that pressure valve. So while saving the entire human race from the alien menace is certainly no short feat (the humblest of brags), creating something of your own is certainly more rewarding than the bullshit that game called an ending.
Feel free to let me know what you do when you’re in these kinds of funks, and how you make sure you do what makes you passionate when life says you’re too busy or stressed. I’d love to hear it.
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