Pondering Productivity

I don’t know what productivity is anymore.

It used to be I had measurable, easily quantified goals for my days. Write one thousand words, edit ten pages, finish building my death ray. You know, easy stuff like that.

Now I’m realizing that the things that matter most in life aren’t something you can really put a “percentage complete” meter on. The task “mold boys into respectable and stable members of society” doesn’t exactly have a sixteen step instruction guide with it. Ditto the objective “strengthen relationship with wife.”

This was the conundrum I found myself facing last Saturday tramping through the woods with the foster kids. I kept thinking to myself, “This feels too much like fun. Fun is bad right? I mean not bad exactly, but it doesn’t go anywhere, right? On the other hand, I do want to give these kids a thirst for something beyond the confines of a TV screen and- Oh look, a deer track!”

As you may have gathered my thoughts tend to ramble. But it’s hard not to feel guilty sometimes. It’s hard not to think, “I should be writing now instead of lying in bed with my wife just talking.” But the truth is, I’m pretty sure “lying in bed just talking” is the nobler of the two pursuits.

I’ve heard it said before that no one lying on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time at the office, but I’m not sure that’s true, at least not in spirit. Because I can imagine lying on my deathbed, looking back over my life, wishing I had accomplished more with it.

And so, I find my mind once again returning to that seemingly ever-present theme of balance. Writing is a good thing. So is mowing the yard, or fixing the leaking sink. But I’m finding the most important tasks in life are the ones you never quite get to mark off as “complete”. Building a good relationship with my God and my family is something that’s going to take effort on my part every day for the rest of my life. And I have to continue to remind myself that those moments when it seems like I’m not “accomplishing” anything may be the most productive moments in my life.

6 responses to “Pondering Productivity

  1. This is a really super awesome post. Good words.

  2. It’s quite a paradox, isn’t it? The things that have the most value generally bring in the least amount of money. I guess that’s why they say to do work you love– so you’ll have the best of both worlds. But where does that leave your family and friends, unless you’re working together (and we all know that’s not always a good idea)?

    Here’s to wishing you and everyone else balance…

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I even wrote this weeks Life List Club guest post on it. The guilt of taking indulgences. They are important to finding balance in our lives. And I really get the moments about spending time with family and loved ones. I too think, I should be writing, get something DONE already, Girl! But seeing my nieces and nephew is important. I want them to know me and remember me while they grow up and not be the aunt that only shows up at holidays and doesn’t get down on the ground and play with them.

    Glad you got a getaway with the kids for some hiking. I did that with my honey last weekend and we’re planning to go again on sunday to see how much the fall colors have changed in a week. I know that’s quality time for us that is so worthwhile.

    Thank you for so eloquently putting this feeling into words, Albert. Today’s post was a real treat!

  4. Very well stated!

    ” And I have to continue to remind myself that those moments when it seems like I’m not “accomplishing” anything may be the most productive moments in my life.” ~ PERFECT ~

  5. Balance is definitely essential. I think that if we didn’t experience life at all, in between writing sessions, we would soon run out of the empathy and emotion and knowledge that we need to use to write.

  6. I totally agree…I have to always concentrate on being in the NOW, and enjoy exactly what is going on at this very moment. If your worried about the past or future, or preoccupied with the guilt of doing (or not doing) some specific activity…your brain will end up sabotaging you in the end. When you do have time to write, your quality/quantity will improve if you find yourself in a balanced, peaceful state of mind.

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