On Not Being Productive


I’ve started taking an online course from Pace and Kylie,  called “Peaceful Productivity.”  I love Pace and Kylie’s work; they’re funny and smart and loving and Full Of Good Ideas.

So one of the first Good Ideas in the Peaceful Productivity course is to live through an hour of UNproductivity.  And Pace and Kylie will be helpful, for those of us who need it.  We can contact them and get coached through the hour of unproductivity, if we start freaking out.

I don’t think I’ll need coaching through it, but I sure as hell am glad to be reminded to do it, cause I forgot.

Actually, the day before I got the homework I had indeed had an hour of unproductive behavior.  I had remembered, all of a sudden, that I used to read all the time.  I mean, I used to read books that aren’t useful for work, or full of Good Advice, or Spiritually Uplifting Messages.  I mean, just books.  And now, these days, for years, I still DO read these books, yes, but mostly just at night, before I go to sleep, or if I’ve dragged them off someplace where I have a bunch of downtime.  Like planes.  Or Unitarian Universalist summer camps.  (That last is how I actually got through the entire unabridged Clarissa.  Which I’m glad to say I’ve done, just so I can lord it over most of you — I’m guessing — but I don’t actually recommend, as really I didn’t see much difference between the unabridged and the abridged except that one was longer.  Lots longer.  Unbelievably longer.)

But what I don’t do, these years, is sit down in the afternoon with a good book and just read. 

So I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which was totally unproductive, as not only is it not a book which I need for work, I’ve already read it.

But wait!  Perhaps it does serve my work!  It’s all full of courage, and friendship, and living a full and rich life, as are indeed all the Harry Potter books.  And my work is all about coaching people to be courageous and have good relationships and live full and rich lives.  Damn.  So, it was probably productive after all.

Ok.  Here’s the problem, and perhaps what I need coaching on.  (I will accept comments below, quite happily.)  WHAT THE HELL IS UNPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR?

Cause if I go and make gluten free lemon bars, which is pretty unproductive, I will end up with lemon bars, which are edible and tasty.  And if I weed the garden, which might be relaxing, there will be fewer weeds.  And if I lie on the floor and think of nothing for an hour, I will have been meditating and probably listening to the Voice of All That Is — I’ve met me, I know how I’d be spending my time — and then I’d be not only rested and balanced, I’d probably have more things I thought up to do.  If I go for a walk, I’ll be getting some exercise.  And if I read a book, any book, I’ll be in an alternate reality for a while, which is, alas, productive.

In fact the only things I can think of that are really, no kidding, unproductive are things that are actually harmful.  Like if I decide to go sit in the park and eat croissants, in which case I will get an asthma attack.  Or if I read true crime books, to which I am addicted, and which make me sardonic and surly.  I could play some of my computer games for an hour, but that’s long enough that I start feeling squirrely.  In fact, all of the really unproductive things I can think of to do are connected, in someway, to addictive behavior, to things that are probably harmless most of the time, but which I have caused to be Problematic.

So, as it turns out, I have a real question here.  Which I will now go ask my teachers.