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Opinion: Society’s obsession with productivity is unhealthy

(Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee / Flickr)

The world we live in is obsessed with productivity. From articles about “How to be More Productive” to “Productivity Secrets of Successful People,” we are constantly bombarded with ways to keep ourselves producing like a machine all the time, which is said to lead to success. Busyness and productivity have now become a badge of honor and a mark of social status.

Especially in current times of quarantine, everybody is finding more ways to keep both their minds and body busy all the time. While keeping ourselves producing is necessary at times, an obsession over productivity can lead to a backlash.

According to the Harvard Business Review, neuroscientists claim that creative cognition is triggered by an unfocused, or default, state of mind. They also mentioned how we find ourselves in a state when we’re “drifting off,” and losing time being in the “daydreamy unfocus” of life.

According to the L.A. Times, overworking can result in more inefficiency. In some cases, people can even become burned out or even worse, lose their creative edge.

While productivity is focus, creativity is “unfocus.” Recognizing that productivity and creativity exist in opposition to each other is important, especially when valuing the originality of creative thought.

However, productivity itself is not bad in any way, specifically when productivity has a purpose. A clear, inspired and meaningful vision causes us to experience natural abundant energy, driving us to action. With a clear goal and purpose, productivity is a by-product.

Ruth Kao Barr, a Wellbeing and Mind coach, mentioned how when we get inspired by a greater vision it adds more energy and motivation for us.

“So, if we focused on connecting to the meaning of work, everything else has to align, including productivity,” Barr said in an interview with Medium.

The most significant point is that maintaining a balance is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Spend as much time as you want on work that you believe is meaningful, but also give your brain and body some room to “unfocus.”

Catching up on assignments and keeping your body moving is important, but taking a nap and doing nothing for a couple of hours is not as bad as everyone makes it sound.

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