There are all sorts of things wrong with the productivity hype. “Faster! Higher! Stronger!” may be a good motto for sports and professional athletes, but I think things have really gone overboard in other professions. As we’re all stuck at home and dealing with a pandemic, the productivity cult and fetishization has come a bit under scrutiny. Turns out that working more hours does not protect you against a virus; that it does not protect you against burning out mentally, because the virus takes up bandwidth in the background when you want to maximize your own bandwidth use as everything takes more time; that productivity for productivity’s sake is doing more harm than good, at all sorts of levels, and that it was doing so even in pre-pandemic times.
So I hesitate to call my day productive. Maybe I can call it balanced? I’m not sure it was. Stuff got done. I baked bread. I started working on a backlog of items to give feedback on (aka “grading”). I had lunch with some colleagues (virtual). I set up a few bigger assignments for the Japanese history course, and hopefully found a way to balance things for students who feel unable to complete this. Other students crave work and I don’t want to leave them feeling unchallenged. That took some time. I looked through projects for the new China’s Magical Creatures (and where to find them) open access textbook. I went for a slow 10k run. I cobbled dinner together. I had a Zoom knit night and got a few rows in on a cardigan.
The only thing I did not get in was some flute practice, because sometimes conversations take precedence. Tonight was one of those nights. Things are ok, overall.
Could I have been more “productive” in the conventional sense? Undoubtedly: I am still behind on the feedback, and there are things in my email inbox that are nagging. But it would mean missing out on important conversations with colleagues and friends, or taking care of myself. For me, runs are a way of generating spoons. Physically I am exhausted, but that sets me up for a good night’s sleep, and mentally, all that sunshine did me a world of good.