Guilty leisure 

Cat sleeping on a bed.

Have you ever really taken a break?

I mean, actually put your feet up and sipped your coffee without feeling like the world is going to crumble around you for taking 5 minutes off? I’ve been having some trouble with that lately, especially with exams right around the corner. Every time I come home from class, I’m guilted into having to do something productive immediately – like it’s a crime punishable by a life sentence if I were to merely lie down on my bed for just 10 minutes. My heart starts racing and this teeny-weeny voice at the back of my brain keeps telling me that I will bomb my finals if I don’t start typing out my notes RIGHT. THIS. SECOND. 

And so I put down my bag, drag my stuff over to my desk and begin studying even though my bed is beckoning me over for a nap. It’s just so exhausting. I think hearing that little voice is more exhausting than studying and yet, I still feed into it. The worst thing is, I know that there is no one else to blame for this guilt except me. Well... I could always point an accusatory finger to the toxic productive culture that has been plaguing my timeline recently. You know, those videos of students inviting you to study with them at the library for 10 hours or those people who wake up at 6am every day and somehow manage to cook themselves a Norwood café-grade breakfast and hit the gym all before their 9am class? 

Good for them and I can tell some of them are just genuinely productive people who want to motivate others to be productive too, but I’ve come across a lot of content from certain “productivity influencers” recently who seem to be suggesting that being productive is the be all, end all. That if you’re not doing something even for a minute, you’re setting yourself up for failure. A New Yorker article articulates this best, “The productivity terminology encodes not only getting things done but doing them at all costs”. 

I personally think that being productive is important and commendable, but I don’t think it’ll serve you much if you end up being burnt out from it. So yes, maybe I can say that my guilt stems from constantly being introduced to media that promotes this extreme culture of productivity. So, how do I unlearn this then? How do I go from “I have to do this despite…” to “I should do this because…”? 

I’ve been practicing doing things one at a time. I used to sneak in some studying while cooking. Not only have I risked getting curry all over my keyboard far too many times but the whole get-up was just too chaotic that my brain was scrambled by the time I turned the stove off. I’ve also gone back to my trusty old to-do list. I’ve abandoned it for quite some time now – again, because I was just so caught up with trying to shove everything into one day – but I’m ready to plan out my daily schedule on a yellow sticky note, keeping in mind that I have to keep that list as realistic as possible. Hopefully practicing these two things will help me feel a lot more organised, so that I won’t have to feel guilty about taking a break here and there. 

Tagged in What messes with your head, study, mental health, organisation