How many times have you been in this situation where you had to say to yourself “Don’t you give up now! Just keep pushing, the hard times will go away soon”, and then you’d lose all your motivation and become so depressed that you can’t work at all? The concepts of success, productivity and effectiveness are so much exaggerated and bloated in today’s world that you just can’t allow yourself to give up.
“Work hard. Work smart. Be efficient”. You need to constantly stay alarmed and focused because if you’re not productive you gonna end up living in the street, and so you keep on working with depression even harder. What’s the matter, why is everybody so obsessed with productivity? Is it possible to have productive depression or will you always be living in misery?
The productivity in its today’s understanding comes from the 18-19th century when the industrial revolution was getting its momentum. Before we start speaking about it, let’s just clarify what the productivity is and how you and I understand it. This is what a dictionary suggests and that’s what I’ll stick to.
The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry. This is what productivity is. When all sorts of factories, plants, corporations started conquering the world they needed to be up and running 24/7 in order to achieve the desired results. According to Buffer, people had to work around 14-16 hours a day to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.
Luckily, when Henry Ford was the first one to implement the 8-hour working day the things have changed for the better, especially for those who worked 14+ hours a day. The schedule has indeed changed, but not the beliefs. People had to be as productive as they were, but now everything had to be packed into the 8 hours. I don’t know what the job requirements were 100 years ago, but I know what they are today.
Even though the companies usually position themselves as “a friendly, cooperative environment that is looking for a passionate and ambitious person”, the fancy words that you see in job requirements have a very basic and clear meaning. You must be productive at work, you must effectively complete your tasks without asking too many questions.
There is a great song “Hypnogaja – They Don’t Care”, and there is a line which very well shows what the industry (sometimes) wants from you:
How can you be unproductive when the industry, society and even your close friends tell you that you must be productive. You must have met a person in your life who told you “Oh, I’ve read 100 books this year, 50 of which I’ve written myself. I wake up at 5 a.m. every day to do some workout which gives me an energy boost for the day to deal with my 10 hobbies”. I love being highly-productive and I want to work on my self-development.
And you’d be like: “Oh, that’s awesome. *turns back*. Die.”
You feel unproductive when you watch a TV series, play computer games, walk with your friends and do other things that you like. You feel unproductive and inefficient even when you have done a lot of things like completing the 3-days plan in one day or getting the home tasks done for the whole week.
Feeling unproductive is depressing. You feel like you can always do more, and so you keep pushing even harder. You watch a couple of motivational videos and you’re ready to be the task-completing killing machine.
As you deal with your everyday things and try to keep up with the world’s progress you start noticing that you’re not as productive anymore. In fact, you’ve failed most of your tasks and things are just ruining. Am I feeling sick? Why is everything getting out of control? How to be productive when you’re depressed?
Here you’re, you’ve just fallen into the whole. Your carriage is stuck. You’ve burned out. Why?
Whether you’re working or studying it usually takes you 8+ hours a day. You’re trying to make your work or study process effective, and you do your best to meet the productivity standards. Like I mentioned above, when you come home you’re still trying to be productive, and when you’re not, you blame yourself for being lazy.
When you’ve burned out, your physical health has just got a nice earthquake and your mental health decreased because you constantly punch it with your thoughts and opinions about yourself. According to Inc, individuals working 11 hours or more of overtime have an increased depression risk. And you very well know where depression will lead you because you’ve been there at least once.
So, how you do prevent the burnout and turn depression into productive depression? How can you stay productive without recovering for weeks or months after the superhero challenges?
Imagine a stuck carriage. It’s a dirty road and the wheel of the carriage is stuck in the dirt. You can’t go forward because it just doesn’t move. So what do you do? You start to swing the carriage. You push and pull it. You push forward and pull back again. You do it several times until you have enough energy to break free and move forward.
Feels like you’re stuck in your life and things are just not working out for you?
Relax, pull back. When you’re productive at your work or when you’ve just completed an important task that you’ve been working on for hours just feel proud of yourself and get some reward for it. The reward may be anything. I like playing computer games or just wasting my time on nothing scrolling social media, watching YouTube videos or films.
When you’ve nailed a task you deserve to have some time for yourself for the stupidest things that you like. Your brain is trained that way. It’s trained to complete a task and get the reward, otherwise it doesn’t see any reason to achieve anything at all. Your organism likes to be appreciated and loved.
When you neglect it, your brain stops being productive and you’re not moving anywhere. The signal that you have put too much stress on you may be an unexpected disease, absentmindedness, loss of control, mood drop or when you simply can’t concentrate on anything.
We can no longer concentrate on things for too long because of the Internet of things (IoT) era. In fact, average British attention span is only 14 minutes, according to Independent’s article. So, if you find yourself that you can’t concentrate on your tasks at all, there is a cool trick to increase your focus and productivity. Stephen Duneier suggests some productivity tips that helped him to achieve the most impossible goals in his life.
When you feel like you can’t concentrate on one task or another, instead of forcing yourself to deal with the task for 1 hour in a row try concentrating on the task for 5 minutes only and then take a break. In fact, you can concentrate for 10, 20 minutes or more as long as you’re comfortable with it.
The 5-minute strategy allows you to do the task easier because you know that the most difficult part is to stop procrastinating and actually start doing something. The only disadvantage of this tactic is that you can’t enter the so-called state of flow where you concentrate on the task with your full potential.
However, if you need to keep doing your things anyway but you feel the burnout this simple strategy can help you get over or at least ease the hard times in your life. Be wise.
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