Tea Time with Trish: Part 5 – The Problem with Productivity

Tea Time with Trish: Part 5 – The Problem with Productivity


My time in Banffbrought about some amazing learning moments for me; some more direct than others.  To keep you up to speed, you can also check out the previous parts by clicking here.


The next two weeks I will be sharing a couple of the ripple effect lessons I learned upon returning home.  What I had learned made me question further some of the concepts I had pondered before…one of them being our need to be “productive.”


A large part of the reason why I was having trouble settling in and simply enjoying my time in Banffwas because I had an underlying need to be productive.  Even though at a conscious level I no longer buy into and accept that our time needs to be filled with productive pursuits (not to be confused with purpose), at a subconscious level that belief was buried quite deep, and so my two minds were struggling with each other.


We have been raised in a culture that highly values productivity, and that in itself wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we hadn’t taken it to extremes.  We have come to value ourselves based on how productive we are, which has led us to be driven, to push ourselves, and to preserve under all conditions…and if we aren’t the driven type, well then, we feel guilty for it and call ourselves procrastinators. It’s a no win situation.


This need to be productive is also the culprit behind our multi-tasking habits, which keep us from ever being in the moment.  If we are able to do one task, well how great are we if we can do two or even three tasks at the same time…man, I must be really valuable!


Being a “recovering” perfectionist, people-pleaser, over-achiever, and over-analyzer I certainly fell into that trap, and back in the day was quite proud of wearing that badge of honour.  Now understanding my value doesn’t come from how much I do in a day, but rather the type of person I am and continue to grow into, I have a much better perspective on all of this, which has really allowed me to slow down, follow my intuitive sense, and derive joy from simpler things.


HOWEVER, I am clearly not “cured” of the endless curse to produce, and this became evident during my 3 day getaway…in more than one way.  The first obvious evidence was in my struggle with fully allowing myself to just go with the flow of the day, and letting go of the need to “get ahead of the game” with my work.  Once I recognized, acknowledged and reframed my perspective I was able to let go of the subconscious need to be productive.


Under closer scrutiny, I realized that this actually displayed itself even before I got to Banff.  In explaining to my parents (who were going to be watching the kids), I felt the need to let them know that this trip wasn’t just all about me.  Knowing and understanding how others so strongly perceive productivity as important, and self-care as perhaps frivolous, I grudgingly have to admit I conceded to others perceptions so that I could avoid their possible judgements…and I did this by explaining my reason for this trip as a way to focus uninterrupted on my writing.  And although I now know I was secretly hoping to get some work done, my main reason for planning this getaway was for my own self-care…I was wanting some solitude, serenity, and simplicity.


Taking it a step further, in explaining the reason for my trip to my husband, I once again felt the need to make him aware that I will be doing some work and I will be productive while I’m away, so “don’t worry, this isn’t just for me, ” like there was something wrong if it was just for me.  Even though I knew he would not begrudge me my own time, I felt some guilt around giving myself all that time without the purpose of productivity behind it.  It seems so silly to me now considering how strongly I believe self-care is important, but if I’m honest with myself (well, and all of you too) I caught myself in the act of having to justify my going away to my parents and husband.


This led me to the question, “Why do we so highly value struggle?”  Productivity, more times that not, produces struggle.  We push and prod ourselves to do more, which clearly creates struggle within ourselves.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Because then others will see (or hear about) the fruits of our labour and it will validate our value and worth.


To illustrate my point further, you don’t have to go too far to see the evidence.  By simply going to the local library or book store and picking up a biography, or watching interviews on tv, we are constantly bombarded with stories of struggle, and these stories always are accompanied with many accolades.


Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for applauding those who have been able to overcome hardships, and I think there is a place for those stories, and I personally find them inspiring, however because there is such a focus on those types of stories, I believe that heavily highlighting these types of stories has created a sense of awe with viewing struggle as being more virtuous than simpler stories of personal growth.


Okay, perhaps I got on a bit of a tangent there…point being, that society highly values struggle, and we have bought into it hook, line, and sinker.


The solution to letting go of the constant need for productivity?  First and foremost, understanding that that belief wasn’t created by us, so we are able to let it go, and we can do that through awareness.  Secondly, by knowing yourself.


Because I spent many years peeling away my layers and getting to the core of who I am, I have come to know myself quite well.  I view everything along the line of a spectrum, and one of the things I understand about myself is that on the spectrum of productivity versus procrastination, I veer more strongly to the productivity side, which leads me to be a “doer.”  Neither side of the spectrum is good nor bad, but simply an awareness of your tendencies.  Because I am a “doer” by nature, I am very conscious of not letting it go to the extreme, and remind myself about the need to also be in a “being” state.


When you understand where you fall on the spectrum you are more easily able to catch yourself quickly (as I did with my Banfftrip) and readjust so that you can get yourself back into balance.


Hmmm….balance?  Now, there’s my next topic.  Stayed tuned for Part 6, and the final lesson, in my “Unexpected Gifts From A Getaway” series.


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Trisha Savoia is founder/owner of Absolute Awareness, and creator of the Moms Who Want More Program.  Through her programs, writing, and speaking she uses her skills and experience as a mother, teacher, & Clinical Hypnotherapist to mentor moms who want more out of their lives – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  She teaches moms how to slow down, peel away the layers to find their true selves, and to listen to their intuitive sense so that they can create a sense of fulfillment, meaning, and happiness in their lives.