Source — (Pixabay)

How NOT to Be Productive

Don’t wait until you die!

Here in our duality-based reality life can be like a pendulum swinging back and forth between extremes — both individually and collectively. Here in America, as well as some other countries, the collective pendulum is reaching the most extreme levels of obsessiveness in regard to the notion of productivity. The need to feel productive has taken over our lives.

All one has to do is look at Medium where there are hundreds of thousands of formulaic self-help articles about how to be more productive. These articles are wildly popular because everyone wants to know how to double or triple or quadruple their productivity so that they can feel better about themselves and hopefully someday become a billionaire. In America today we are being taught and conditioned to believe that we cannot feel good about ourselves unless we are being productive every single waking minute of the day.

So, so many of these articles suggest that we wake up an hour or two or three earlier in the morning so that we can squeeze more productivity into our day. After all, we’re not being productive if we’re sleeping, right? We are being conditioned to multi-task. We are constantly thumbing away on our smart phones, even while we watch a movie or eat or commute or socialize — even while we’re shitting.

We simply must be productive at all times! How productive we are is how we judge ourselves and how we judge others. Productivity has become the defining characteristic of our existence.

The nature of a pendulum is not to stop once it reaches an extreme. Its nature is to start going back in the other direction. That is the good news. The collective obsession with productivity is approaching an extreme saturation point and we will soon be headed away from that back towards more balanced paradigms where productivity isn’t the be-all and end-all of life.

The sad news is that by the time the pendulum begins heading in the other direction again most humans will be fully programmed (like robots) for obsessive productivity and they just won’t know what to do with themselves or how to judge themselves and others once we start moving away from our obsession with productivity. Without being productive there will be no more meaning to their lives.

In the hopes of helping these people transition to more balanced thinking and wean themselves from the collective obsessive/compulsive productivity addiction, I have prepared some tips that people can begin to utilize now to acclimate themselves to a newer, more balanced future…


America is riddled with numerous epidemics. There is morbid obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, racism, and violence just to name a few. But perhaps the most debilitating and devastating epidemic is Nature Deficit Disorder. Most adult Americans spend 95% to 99% of their lives indoors. We have profoundly lost our connection to nature, to the world around us and to the planet that we are an intricate part of. Taking a nature walk is not productive so therefore it has no value.

For many, the only nature they get is the 60 second walk from their home to their car — unless their car is in the garage. They breathe stale canned air. Their eyes become weaker because they live in artificial light. They never listen to empowering birdsong. They never get the vitamins from exposure to sunlight on their skin that is so crucially important to their health. They live their entire lives in boxes that keep them separated from the life-force energy of the natural world outside those boxes. All so that they can be more productive.

There is a nature trail near where I live that I truly enjoy. It is almost always deserted. On the rare occasion I see another human they are usually walking with their head down staring at their goddam smart phone as they walk. They think they are taking a nature walk but they are completely oblivious of the nature all around them. They are not present! In order to be productive they are multi-tasking and therefore missing out on the critical benefits of communing with nature.

So my advice is to leave your goddam smart phone at home and take two to four nature walks every single day. Too radical? Okay, start with one nature walk every single day. You can work your way up to more after you begin to realize how empowering and rejuvenating it is and how much it enhances your joy for life. The more communing with nature that you do now, the better you will be able to handle the pendulum going back the other way.


This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with the suggestion above. Not only does tending a garden connect you with Mother Nature but it is a great transitional practice for preparing ourselves for better times. That is because it can still be somewhat productive.

While most people think that all food comes from groceries stores or restaurants the truth is that we can grow our own food. While getting our hands covered with dirt and planting seeds and watching them grow and nurturing the plants is extremely beneficial to our health and well-being, we can also eat the fruits of our labor. When a vegetable or fruit is picked in Argentina then shipped by boat to America then shipped from warehouse to warehouse then sits for days in a grocery store, well… then most all of the chi, or life-force energy, has dissipated from it. And that life-force energy is as important as the vitamins and nutrients in the foods we eat. To kneel down on the ground and pluck a cherry tomato off a plant that we grew in our garden and immediately plop it into our mouths then we are getting maximum chi. (And if you’re a smart gardener no toxic chemicals.)

You can save a lot of time buying food from the grocery store or a restaurant or having it delivered and this allows you more time to be productive. Cooking your own food also takes too much time and cuts into your productivity. But if we are going to get used to a more joyful life not predicated exclusively on productivity then cooking our own food and tending a garden can be very helpful endeavors. (I also recommend gardening while barefoot. It is critically important that our bare feet touch the earth on a regular basis.)


Do you think of productivity while having sex? Unless you’re concerned with notches in your bedpost, you probably aren’t thinking about being more productive. You are hopefully enjoying your communion. More sex can help us to temporarily step away from our obsessive productivity addiction.


This is a no-brainer. If you meditate for fifteen minutes every day that is an hour and forty-five minutes a week that you are not being productive. How awesome is that?


It’s okay to sleep in. Really, it is. And don’t feel guilty about it. Sure, you’re losing valuable productivity time but that can be a good thing, especially if you’re preparing yourself for when the pendulum starts swinging the other way.


Cuddling with or playing with a pet or taking a pet for a walk OUTSIDE is not very productive. And that is only one of many reasons to engage in this behavior.


If you are thinking about productivity at a concert then your productivity addiction is way worse than you think.


Listen to your body instead of society’s incessant calls for ever more productivity.


I can guarantee you that when young children are playing they are NOT thinking about productivity. They can teach us a lot.


Don’t turn Medium into a productivity addiction. I’m sure Ev Williams would disagree with me but I have learned that going an entire day without either reading or writing on Medium is profoundly helpful. I did it recently and I was surprised by how joyful I felt at the end of the day. (And how ready to write I was the next day.) Medium can be so much more fun when it is not all about the mass-production of content. Medium will not survive the pendulum going the other way if it is only about productivity. Stop compulsively checking your stats and stop reading every one of the countless formulaic productivity self-help articles. Look for the joy. Feel the joy. Express the joy.


Turn it off when you’re in a movie theater. Turn it off when you’re in a restaurant with your friends. Turn it off and leave it at home when you go for a nature walk. Turn it off when you are having an in-depth conversation with other humans. Don’t sleep with it. Don’t take it into the bathroom with you when you take a shower. Don’t become addicted to it or multi-task with it. Turn it off periodically and become present with the real world around you. Turn it off and enjoy being non-productive. Turn it off and smell the flowers and luxuriate in birdsong.

We are human beings. We are not soulless factories. Or robots. Life is to be enjoyed and cherished and experienced. Don’t get sucked into the societal conditioning that productivity is more important than anything else. It’s not.

My father was a very productive man. He never worked just one job. He always had two or three or four jobs at a time. He never took vacations. He worked twelve to sixteen hours a day and never had more than one day off each week. He worked his ass off being as productive as he could be. And he never got to retire. He was so busy being productive that he never rested or simply enjoyed himself. Rest did not find him until he died.

Don’t be like him! Don’t be a productivity addict. Follow the pendulum as it heads back towards balance. Relax and enjoy life. Don’t put it off until death.

Copyright by White Feather. All Rights Reserved.
Writings of White Feather

Speaking of productivity…

Earthling — Lifelong novelist & essayist —

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