Updated: May 18, 2021
If you feel guilty about not being productive, don't worry, it's actually a common reaction.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
You’ve heard this one before. I hate clichés as much as you do, but hear me out.
There are massive costs to living a “productive” lifestyle. Before comparing yourself to that guy over there, realize what he’s sacrificing. If you’re okay with that, then carry on.
Don’t get me twisted on this one, this is not about living the path of least resistance. You should be actively seeking challenges and pushing yourself in some facet of your life. If you’re not, you’re going to live a very mundane, average life. However, if you’re feeling guilty about your lack of “productivity”, then you’re not going to be truly productive at all. This links to my next point:
Realize the Difference Between Being “Busy” and Being “Productive”
Lots of people are busy. Busy-ness (or business) is a state of doing what you are told to do, having tasks piled o
n top of you and running around frantically trying to balance them all. Often, when people say “I was so productive today”, they really mean “I had time to do all the things my life required of me today”.
You Can’t Force Creativity
If ideas are an important aspect of your life, then you may need to realize that you cannot force creativity.
Relaxing and doing nothing can actually be a vital part of the creative process. Why do you think artists often go on retreats or isolate themselves from the outside world? Without the busy-ness of everyday life, our minds are free to wonder and create new and exciting things. This is also why people find themselves stuck in a rut when they work a busy and demanding office job. They cannot see past their immediate duties and assigned tasks, so they lack the creativity and mental capacity to break out of their routine and dream big ideas.
Step back and evaluate the day-to-day tasks which are the most important to you. If you’re feeling guilty about putting off an unimportant task, then cut that task out or outsource it to someone else. If you’re feelin
g guilty about putting off a really important task, then maybe you should do that task right now.
*Most importantly, don’t let your most important tasks become a chore.