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How to be productive

June 27, 2017

Today I’ve spent much of my precious child-free day making a toy oven out of cardboard for my son. It was an unexpectedly messy and time-consuming project, and the end result is mediocre. I’m battling to not feel guilty because I’ve been so unproductive.


A cardboard toy oven, made with love from recycled cardboard boxes. Improving it will be a project my son and I can enjoy together.

I feel the pressure of a lifetime of implicit messages about the need to achieve. Make money. Be successful. Do things. Make things. Produce. Perhaps all amplified by my need as an “artist” to prove myself somehow. And because I have lots of ideas but not a lot of energy, I can’t possibly do all the things I can imagine doing successfully. Which makes me feel like a failure.

But when I think about what I really care about, and what I really think the world needs, this urge to be productive seems unhelpful. Our world is plagued with too much stuff already.

In a world with a massive over-consumption problem the focus on productivity seems counter-productive.

What to do?

What I want to do, what I think might maybe help, is to slow down a little and change my focus. I want to look at how I can contribute. What do I have to give to the world? What can I share? What is actually needed and useful? I want to jump off the productivity treadmill, stop worrying about pointless measures of “success”. I want to break away from needing to prove myself. Enough about me already! I want to focus on family, friends, society, the world.

I want to get on with being a helpful and creative human-being. I want to contribute in whatever ways I can to building a better society. This might be through art, or through working at a library, or being a good Mum or friend. I’m really not too sure. I am sure that breaking away from the culture of over-producing and over-consuming is a productive step.

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