How does mental health affect productivity? How does productivity affect mental health?
Some of the more gung ho productivity advice seems to create a culture of perfection. Where productivity has become synonymous with a perfect picture of health – mental and otherwise. Where being productive means being ‘on it’ all the time. And anything less is a waste of time.
Arguably, that’s the kind of ‘productivity’ that got us into this mess – a culture of over-achieving, never enough, guilt-inducing busyness.
Real productivity is not about perfection. It’s about being human.
It’s about getting the work done when we’re not totally on it.
It’s about making sense of what we need to do, or not do.
It’s about understanding how we find our way back to ‘on it’ – because when we are there it does feel pretty good.
Productivity is a process of rising.
Sometimes rising is about flying high. Some days it’s literally about rising out of bed.
Rising amidst the chaos, the busyness, the overwhelm, the numbness or the panic, to find a way forward when the road is neither clear nor straight.
Rising above the mud-slinging and blame-shifting, and the temptation to shrink into self-protection mode.
Rising despite the limitations we put on ourselves – the ‘can’ts’, ‘have to’s and ‘should’s, the self doubt, the inner critic and the imposter syndrome.
Rising within the uncertainty and imperfection of the world we live and work in, with all the people who drive us crazy – including ourselves.
It’s the tactics that help us to reclaim a sense of clarity and control – over our workload, our to-do lists, our calendars and our inboxes – not so that all those things can be perfect, but so that we can see a way forward.
It’s the practices that remind us of the good that we have done, still do and can do – even when we feel completely rubbish.
It’s the perspective that lowers frustration and releases guilt, and gently steers us from what we can’t do to what we can do.
It’s the tools that lighten the load and help us to function on days when are totally spent.
And it’s the words that speak life into us when we are utterly defeated, that rekindle a spark of hope and an inkling of joy.
That’s the productivity and mental health conversation I want to have more of. How about you?
This is something I wrote a while ago for my email subscribers on Time to Talk Day. Given that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week I want to share it more widely here. If you’d like to take the Really Productive conversation to your inbox, feel free to sign up at the top of the page.