Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Don’t feel guilty about not being productive

We need to talk about productivity culture and how it’s problematic
Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian (2011)

If we dissect the terrible construct that is productivity, we can see its capitalistic nature. Over time, we have convinced ourselves we must always be working in order to contribute to society. We have created this overly competitive environment that does not allow for breaks. It’s horrible.

The concept that productivity is necessary has destroyed our ability to relax without feeling lousy. This is harmful for everyone’s mental and physical health, and it needs to change.

I am not the type of person to be overly passionate in my beliefs, but I am absurdly passionate about the need to set aside time to relax. I firmly believe that if I did not allow myself at least an hour every day to lay down and watch TV I would go clinically insane.

I did not understand the importance of giving your mind and body time to relax until the pandemic hit. For the first time in my life, I had time to sit down with no responsibilities hanging over my head and once I experienced what that felt like, I could never turn back.

Fortunately, I have learned how to balance my heavy schedule as a college student and my fervent desire to relax, but for many, they are still figuring it out.

What seems to plague most people about being unproductive is the guilt that ensues before, during and after you give yourself a much-needed break from your demanding schedule as a college student. This is probably due in part to looking around you and constantly seeing fellow students working non-stop. I do not recommend walking by Isenberg on any night at 11:00 p.m., because you will see people in suits doing God knows what.

On a college campus there will always be people being more productive than you at any given moment, but that is not something that should stop you from allowing yourself a break. Far too often people crash and burn from working themselves too hard and this is far too easy to do in an environment as competitive as college.

But since I have claimed to have figured out the “perfect” work/life balance, let me advise you on how to rid yourself of any guilt that comes when you set productivity aside. Our bodies need this rest for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood and even a better metabolism.

First, remind yourself that your body must recharge. Your brain needs time to reset and relax and your body needs time to rest up for all your days’ work.

You also must recognize that something like watching TV is not necessarily unproductive. I spend my free time watching “Breaking Bad,” and it teaches me so many important things: how to cook meth, how to deal drugs and about the beautiful and vast landscape of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

All jokes aside, there is nothing wrong with spending time watching a show or a movie, scrolling aimlessly through your phone or doing whatever it is that relaxes you. Essentially, productivity is what you make it. I view watching episodes of an exceptionally long series productive because it is accomplishing my task of finishing the series. While it sounds silly, it is how I have learned to excuse my guilt.

Another thing you can do is to remind yourself that your past productivity was enough, as not every day needs to be as productive as the last. Someone once reminded me that we have a lifetime to achieve what we want to, and that you are not going to accomplish all your life goals in the basement of the W.E.B Du Bois library at midnight.

Guilt is a hard thing to knock, but it is important to at least try to relax and set aside your desire to be constantly productive. So, if you have a million tabs open right now blaring in your face, just set them aside and give yourself a well-deserved break.

Nina Prenosil can be reached at [email protected].

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