Battling with expectations to be more productive

For many in my generation, there is often this nagging feeling of needing to be more productive. To be doing side hustles in our spare time. To be keeping up with the people around us. To be achieving higher goals as the years progress.

No doubt that this is a product of the internet culture we have grown up with. A combination of social media creating a hyper awareness of what our friends and family are doing (or at least the best bits of what they’re doing), and access to an internet that constantly presents ideas of the highest peaks of humanity we should aim for, and the lowest troughs that we have to prevent. Although let’s be real. The financial constraints a lot of us feel, in this current economic climate, also feeds into that little voice. But in the pursuit of productivity, what sacrifices do we make?

I recently came across this video by Matt D’Avella. He’s a YouTuber and Filmmaker that I have been following for a while, who directed the Minimalism documentary that blew up a couple years ago. In the video he talks about his experiment with waking up at 5am, everyday for 30 days, in the pursuit of a more productive day. Check it out…

Matt talks about how attempting to do this challenge put a strain on his body. How in the context of everyday life, where events happen that mess with our desired schedule, wanting to wake up super early is more disruptive than anything else. Some of us may read how famous CEOs wake up at early hours of the day, and feel the need to emulate that. But is that really going to work for where your life is at this moment?

I have talked about the importance of sleep to your overall health and wellbeing before, including how it impacts weight management. Though it may appear to be a good habit to get into, if waking up at 5am everyday is creating a sleep deficit, you’re going to achieve the opposite of what you are aiming for.

In the past I have struggled balancing the maintenance of my wellbeing with holding goals of being productive. Yes I did try to do the getting up super early thing. No it didn’t work out for me. Of course I did beat myself up about it at the time, and wondered why I just couldn’t follow through with something as simple as waking up a couple hours earlier.

Altering my sleep patterns has not been the only attempt at being a hard grafter. As a teenager, with high expectations put on him by parents and teachers, I often did long stints of studying, just so that I got perfect reviews on homework assignments. In the process I often isolated myself, and sometimes didn’t eat regular meals. The stress of it all actually lead to me going to the doctors, and I believe was the catalyst for my later development of depression and anxiety.

Thankfully I am in a place now where I am much better about looking after myself properly. Sure I would like to do more in my day-to-day life, but I do not sacrifice my health for it. I put that first, as you should too. At the end of the day, that’s all we really have of our own.

What do you think? I would love to know if anyone else has experienced something like this too. Do you feel like you need to be more productive than you actually are? What do you sacrifice in the process? Let me know in the comments below!

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