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Be Productive! Or Not

You know that saying you can never be too rich or too thin?  I think they should add productive in there, too.  Because as much as I would love to be richer and thinner, I judge myself the most harshly for not being productive.  Which is weird, because I am the queen of productivity.

Even if I only have a few minutes to spare between clients, I have to do something. Write my progress note. Answer an email.  Read a paragraph of an article.  Check my blog stats. I can’t just sit there and wait for the person to show up.  That would be wasting time.

I feel the same way about watching TV. I need to do something else at the same time–like knit, or make jewelry, or do something blog-related. Or I have to get up during every commercial break and do something useful, like pick out my clothes for the next day. Sometimes I’m so obsessed about what I’m going to do during the commercial that I can’t focus on what I’m watching. Even if it’s something I love, like a tennis match with Federer or a UVA basketball game.

This need to be productive makes it hard to cope with down time. Because of the nature of my job, I will have prolonged periods of stress followed by prolonged periods of having nothing to do. My drill sergeant will try to fill in the gap by making up a bunch of mandatory chores. Do some laundry! And then go to the gym! You’re wasting money on that membership! And figure out some way to make more money!

It makes my time off so depressing that I can’t get out of bed until I am propelled by shame because I’ve slept the day away. And then I cram in all of the things that the drill sergeant wanted me to do in a short period of time. Sort of like procrastinating until the night before the exam. Which I never did when I was in school, because that would have been unproductive.

This is another reason why I prefer the concept of self-worth over self-esteem. In order to have high self-esteem, you have to earn it. You have to accomplish something, or make money, or get in shape. This proves that you’re important. This justifies your existence.

And even when you are successful at being richer or thinner or more productive, it doesn’t really lead to high self-esteem like it’s supposed to. Because you didn’t do anything special. You just made up for what you should have been doing all along. You were underachieving before. So there are really no winners in this game of moving targets. Not for me, at least.

Today I saw 9 clients.The maximum number of clients that I can schedule in one day is 7.  But today I had to squeeze in 2 emergencies. I was brain dead by the time I got home. So you know what I decided to do at 11 o’clock tonight? Finish this blog post on productivity. Which I started during my lunch break.

It’s always good to end the day with a little irony.

 

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

2 responses »

  1. And you know what goes great with Irony, red wine, or is it white wine, I can never remember.

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  2. Probably either would be acceptable.

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