Being Productive Isn’t that Important

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m not sure when it happened, but I became one of those people who has trouble not doing something. I’ve always fidgited and couldn’t fully sit still, but at some point my inability to sit still went from physical to mental.

I do a lot of things for various projects, jobs, etc. There’s always something to do. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time reading for pleasure.

I completely stopped during university and was fine until parental leave. There’s not much I can do on the bus other than read, video games, or emails. I tried writing, but it wasn’t easy. So for the past fifteen years I’ve read on the bus and it’s worked really well, allowing me to read an average of 20 or so novels a year.

A tired author wearing a shirt that says, “So many books, so little time.” On the shirt is an octopus with glasses holding a cup of tea and reading two books and holding another.
Shirt available at Tee Turtle.

Since my second parental leave, I’ve had a lot harder a time. There are three reasons:

The first is simple and is just the lack of bus and forced time set aside.

The second will sound petty, but it’s my kids. I love my little Dragon and Pegasus, but they don’t seem to like me reading. Pegasus will physically put himself between me and a book or my kobo. Then when I put it down, he’ll go away and do something else.

He’s older now, so hopefully he’s getting over it, but I still have this weird instinct of not reading around him.

The third is something I’ve been been struggling with for a while. When I read, I feel like I should be doing something else. That’s how my relaxing evening reading turned into writing (that worked out for writing). There’s a kind of guilt and panic when I read that I’m having a hard time getting over.

I need to keep telling myself it’s okay to do things that aren’t productive. It’s okay to take ten or twenty minutes to be a little selfish. The other things will wait.

It’s okay to do things for pleasure and not production!

Maybe if I say it enough times it’ll sink in? I detest that I can know something intellectually and somehow not actually believe it deep down.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Shark Mode

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last year I wrote about burning out. While paying attention to my habits and how I handled things, I noticed that I would get into a grove of always doing something and that if I stopped, all my pain and fatigue would catch up to me.

Some sharks have to keep swimming or they die.

When I’m in Shark Mode, I know I’m tired and in pain and I can ignore it as long as I just keep swimming. It’s extremely useful for short bursts of needing to get things done, but extremely unhealthy in the long term.

The other major downside to Shark Mode is how much you feel you’re accomplishing. This, combined with any sort of stress or anxiety, means the more you use it, the more you feel you should.

I remember sitting on my chair, barely able to move and with extreme pain, but feeling like I had to do something or I’d explode. Not a fun feeling.

If you have a version of Shark Mode, make sure not to overuse it.

Stay healthy,

Éric