How to be unproductive

How to play the comparison game

The other day a friend was showing me his new Macbook Pro. As he flipped from feature to feature, the screen slid past his calendar.

I gasped. “Go back!”

I stared at his monthly planner, incredulous. It was so full! It was fancy and color-coded and categorized… and so full.

My thoughts took off instantly, looking something like this:

Am I wasting my time? Am I doing enough with each day? Maybe I should be sleeping less. Maybe if I color-coded my calendar I’d get more done. If I’m not doing enough, why do I feel so tired? Maybe I need more friends. Maybe if I got a smart phone…

Even after we put the computer away and pulled out the board games, I couldn’t stop thinking about the moment of self un-importance I’d felt while looking at his schedule.

Letting the soul breathe

But here’s the thing, I like the rhythm with which I live my life.

I like protecting my night’s off and using them to write, or take baths, or make art.

I need that time to let my soul breathe. And I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t carve out time for my soul-breathing, I end up exhausted, irritable, and unhappy.

I don’t actually want to be more busy or more productive. I’m actually pretty busy and productive as it is.

It was only when I started to play the comparison game — measuring my own performance against what I perceived my friend’s performance to be — that I felt inadequate.

Living my life at the pace that feels right to me is being fully alive. It is living with integrity.

It is enough…

There is a convicting story of a conversation between St. Francis and Br. Leo. Encouraging his discouraged friend, St. Francis says:

The sadness of not being perfect, the discovery that you really are sinful, is a feeling much too human, even borders on idolatry. Focus your vision outside yourself, on the beauty, graciousness and compassion of Jesus Christ. The pure of heart praise Him from sunrise to sundown.
Even when they feel broken, feeble, distracted, insecure and uncertain, they are able to release it into His peace. A heart like that is stripped and filled-stripped of self and filled with the fullness of God. It is enough that Jesus is Lord.

How deeply true that is.

Especially in this season of holiday business and schedule overload, that is a powerful reminder. It is enough that Jesus is Lord.

And no amount of productivity can take the place of that sufficiency.

– – –

How do you take time to slow down and soak up the beauty of life? What helps you stop comparing your productivity to others’? How do you manage the busy-overload syndrome in your schedule?



Filed under Advent 2011, Musings, My Faith Journey, Spirituality

2 responses to “How to be unproductive

  1. I really enjoyed the way you pulled me into this piece. I was almost yelling at you to NOT color code your calendar! Thanks for a well-written, well-thought out piece.

    • Haha, thank you, Nancy! Well, fear not, my calendar is as disorganized and monochromatic as ever. But my life and heart are full, indeed. Thank you so much for coming by and leaving a comment!

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