One productivity quote that has always stayed with me: “There are 24 hours in the day; use them.”
When I first heard this quote, I thought it was inspiring. YES! Why waste a single second of this “wild and precious life”? (With due credit, of course, to the brilliant Mary Oliver.)
I have lived my life largely in alignment with this “don’t waste time” ethos, including a twenty-year fascination with productivity, efficiency and time management. And while I still believe that there is much to be gained from being intentional about the way we work, the goals we set, and how we manage our lives, I also treasure my sleep time and prioritize rest.
It is not always easy. I am not immune to always feeling behind. I feel the weight of the never ending to do list (even though it has been optimized!) and I navigate the guilt and shame associated with rest that has its roots in our grind culture.
Despite all of that, I take naps. I will sometimes just sit and think. And every night when I get into bed (and this is not an exaggeration!) I think, “OMG. I love sleepytime.”
Part of what has given me the freedom to embrace my rest time is that I consciously see it as a way to reclaim my time (thank you, Maxine Waters).
Consider the frame that rest is a legitimate use of your time.
Do you believe you are lazy if you take a nap? If you sit still for ten minutes, are you worried that you are being unproductive? What would it look like if you recognized that to truly “use” all 24 hours in the day, some of the best uses include rejuvenation and no tangible output?
I know you don’t need me to give you permission to do anything. But just in case you did, here it is.
Rest. Yes, you! Rest.
We cannot #fightgrindculture any other way than by taking a stand. Or a seat. Or even a nap.
It is possible that you have been on the productivity treadmill for so long that you don’t actually remember how to rest. Start by taking five minutes per day to sit in silence. Set a timer. Sit. And don’t do anything else for the whole five minutes.
Notice if it feels difficult, and consider what emotions may be coming up for you. Do you feel like you’re wasting time? Afraid of falling behind? Or getting “caught doing nothing”?
It’s not meditation (though that’s important too), it’s not your window to refill your water (again, important)—it is to train your brain and body to not fight just being still and in repose. Repeat as needed. Relearn how to rest.
(other) Smart People
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to The Nap Ministry and cannot overstate how inspired I am by their work. Their messaging intentionally centers people of color, but the concepts they present are revolutionary, educational and illuminating for all.
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