We are the product of a ‘busy’ society. A world that never, ever sleeps – and even more so with the internet churning out content after content to keep us mindlessly scrolling in-between too. We feel tired but can’t switch off; so we never sleep. Yet despite all of this, we still feel like we have to keep up with everyone else. Our generations have experienced a shift in working mentality unlike any others before it, thanks to more and more people being self-employed – and the internet only showing us what they do, and not what they don’t do. Well, as someone with a chronic illness who often has to sit things out, has to lie down all day instead of dancing at the festival, or has to miss out on things consistently – the biggest lesson I ever taught myself was that resting in itself is productive. Here’s how you can shift your mindset.
Time and time again research has actually proven that the key to productivity is adequate rest – that of which I don’t believe everyone gives themselves anyway. Certainly not in the London rat race that I see. Once I started remembering that not every waking minute of every single day had to be spent doing something productive – I felt better. The word ‘rest’ gets a bad reputation. People associate it with lazy – especially if you’re working from home or self employed. If someone who’s just worked an 8hr day asks you what you did with your day – and you reply that you spent the afternoon reading a book, it’s often met with groans of ‘well you’re lucky you can do that.’ This fuels the guilt inside and would likely sit in the back of your mind next time you did it. And while to an extent working from home and running a business from home does allow some element of luck to be able to participate in rest a lot more than those who commute and work odd hours – I think what the whole world is now seeing working from home is that actually, rest can be harder to do because you are living, eating, breathing, sitting, working and resting in the same place. It can be difficult for everyone in equal measure. But it can also be easier for everyone.
How do you start to solve this? You make a key area for resting in your room or house and keep it that way. Let’s say you live in a rented house, shared accommodation – or you’re a student. It’s a little harder for you guys, you’re just in one room. So make sure when you’re on the bed it’s purely rest and no work – and you work entirely from a desk. If you’re lucky enough to have an at-home office, even better.
I know what you’re thinking, I can hear you right now “Ugh, but I work in an office, I have kids and I don’t have time for this! I’m busy!” I know. I feel you, I do. But making sure that you even have half an hours rest in your day has proven countless times that it increases productivity, by allowing you to think and curate – to ensure your work going forward, whether it’s in a store or office or at home or even just your work on your side hobby or keeping your house clean – is managed more productively.
And that’s where I shifted my mindset. On those days where my chronic illness flares up, I switched from ‘this is awful’ and ‘I’m missing out on everything’ to ‘this is my body resetting’ and ‘I can use this time to focus my mind and heal.’ And that’s what I do.
Even this in itself could cause others to think – but when I’m in pain I just lie there and cry instead of being productive. But that is productive in itself. If what your mind, your body and your soul needed that day was to lie down, cry and ‘reset’ – you’ve been productive. You allowed yourself to do so. The act of productivity is merely a mindset and not a doing action. The issue in society is the perpetual notion that Everybody Else is doing things that you aren’t and using Every Single Day to the full, which simply isn’t true. The issue lies with the societal belief that the busier you are, the more you travel, the more you are working, the more you are at meetings, the less sleep you get – the more successful you are. This is incorrect. If anything, it’s rather outdated. The modern professional works online, any time, and their way. There’s no set way to doing so. It’s about working smart, not working long hours.
There’s this really sort of cool saying that’s like – live every day. And I’m all for that, I do live every day and I do everything I want whenever I want and how I want it. I do spend my money on things I want and I do use them and don’t let them sit in a box. I do live my life. But some days – I spend the entire day in bed either in pain or resting from being in pain the previous day – and guess what? I still count that as living every single day. Because I am living, I’m here, I’m alive and I’m present in this moment. I used to have this sort of fear that if I didn’t do any ‘work’ one day, I had wasted the day. Then by about 7pm of feeling like I’d wasted everything – I’d get upset. Then I’d get more upset for being upset and wouldn’t sleep. Then I’d wake up late. Then I’d feel bad for waking up late.
Notice a pattern? I was consistently beating myself up.
Look, I’m not saying you’re not allowed days like that. But what I am saying is – don’t discount those days. Those days were productive too. They taught you something. They taught you what made you unhappy – and now you know how to work on resting better to avoid them.
You will have read about countries where they work less in the week – yet their economy thrives and they are happier. You will also have read about countries where they drive their workers into the ground to work more – and their death rate is higher.
You don’t have to think about it in extremes all the time, but what you must remember and remind those around you to remember too, is that rest helps productivity. Rest is productive. If your mind is constantly at a million miles per hour, you won’t take in what’s new. You need to allow yourself to reflect, think about what you did before and how you can change it going forward.
We’re all in lockdown, currently safe at home. So use this time to rest. And in doing so, teach yourself how to rest. My rest every day is the hour I walk Buckley over the park, and then the hour I use to cook food or bake something where I have no technology and no interruptions. I do those both every day without fail. I then add in other restful activities when I need to – and I also take the days when my chronic illness says no and I never ever feel guilty for them.
The worst mistake you can do is to believe you are not working, when you have achieved so much. Listen to your mind and your body. If it’s hurting and you’re constantly getting headaches – you need to stop. I too have felt the weight of the guilt on my shoulders and I’ve moved past it. I work productively and my output is far greater than when I was making myself ill keeping ‘busy’.
You don’t have to be a Girl Boss to be a girl boss. Which is nothing more than a harmful stereotype anyway.