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Azeem Khan Headshot

Dealing With the Curse of Productivity

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I realized something very profound about myself today. I care way too much about being productive. It's so bad that I get upset at myself because I'm not productive enough at my goal of being unproductive. I know that sentence didn't make a whole lot of sense so let me say it in another way, if I don't accomplish watching enough television shows or movies on the days I've dedicated to doing nothing except for relaxing, I get upset at myself. It wasn't until today, my birthday, that I realized how unhealthy that is. I always want to be functioning at two hundred percent, even when I'm supposed to be relaxing. It's always a competition to me, and though it's unlikely, it's something I need to change. I don't know how many of you out there are like that too, but I asked some of my Type A personality friends who share the same issue. They believe it's a gift and a curse, and though I see that, I've become resolved to help alleviate it. You can't possibly be functioning at full speed all the time, you risk too much in terms of your sanity so I sat around to think about how I could help to fix this issue. Setting aside time to relax is essential in being able to be as productive as possible, and these are a few of the things I thought about which help me keep my serenity.

1. Meditation-- I used to think the whole mind-body thing really was a huge hoax, but I was blown away by how wrong I was. There is nothing truer than your mind and body having to be in a constant state of Zen to allow yourself to truly reach your peak potential. The ways towards enlightenment in this regard can come from a variety of methods, and none of them are better or worse than the next. What you decide to do for meditation is up to you, but what's essential is finding a few points in the day where you just sit down and think about nothing. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but you didn't read anything wrong because that's exactly what you're supposed to do. It's finding a couple of times out of each day where you take a few minutes to think about nothing. We're all constantly in a state of flux where we're thinking about a hundred things, and trying to do a thousand things. Taking a few minutes to let nothing into your mind, where it's free of all thoughts, will really help you focus after. It takes away the stress of future deadlines, and puts you in the present. Those few moments where you just enjoy your breath, and let yourself relax are ironically the moments that will allow you to push harder when you have to.

2. Shutdown -- There's only 24 hours in the day no matter how hard you try. In those fleeting moments you need to find time to sleep, eat, work, be social, and a host of other things. Because there's a never-ending list, it's easy to feel guilty about not achieving as much as you wanted to, regardless of how much you actually get done. It's something I'm very guilty of. No matter how much I'm able to achieve on a given day, I refuse to give myself any credit, thinking I could have gotten more done. So what I did is institute a shutdown time after which I do absolutely no work. It doesn't matter if I decide to watch TV, read a book, or give an old friend a call because it's my end of the day battery recharge time. It really works too.

3. Exercise -- There's a lot of science to back my claims, which I'm not going to get into. Instead I'm just going to speak from personal experience, which is that nothing helps my stress levels more than exercise. After I get in a good sweat, the feel good hormones get to working, and I feel much better regardless of what had been on my mind all day. It has to do with the fact that while I'm in the gym, that's all I'm focusing on for that one-hour, and nothing else is bothering me. It's my time where I don't bring my phone with me, and just focus on bettering myself. It's not about getting a set of abs that Mike The Situation would be jealous of, as much as it is about reducing your stress levels. Try it. You won't regret it.

These are a couple of the things that I do to feel better about my days. It's possible they work for you, but it's also possible they don't. What works for one person may not work for another so try not to feel bad if you don't see results from this. Instead start exploring what works for you, and let me know in the comments section so maybe I could try it to!