*this post contains affiliate links*
I’ve mentioned before that I believe productivity is partly an illusion. Okay, I get it, if you are getting shit done and you are productive that’s not really an illusion, it’s real life. But, what I mean by it is if you feel like you are productive, you are. That part is an illusion.
Do you like making lists because it makes you feel productive? Illusion.
Do you write things in your planner you’ve already done just to check it off? Illusion.
Depression causes a severe lack of productivity. I don’t know about you, but I have this weird problem where I have all these goals I want to accomplish, yet I usually have no motivation to accomplish them. I never feel productive because I never do anything productive. In April of 2018 I decided that it had to stop. I was constantly feeling down and unmotivated and like I was just floating in this depression cycle of wanting to do things but just kind of, not doing them. I was stuck in my job, I was stuck in life, and I wanted out.
So, I enrolled in university.
A little backstory: Ever since I was freshly out of high school I’ve wanted to be a sex therapist. I imagined having my own private practice in a cute office and making boat loads of money (don’t pretend money isn’t a reason for wanting a certain job, because it is). Then I fell into a major depressive episode that lasted a whole year. Yes, a year spent watching Netflix in bed and doing nothing. I knew I had to do something, so I went to a privately-owned college for Criminology. I call it joke college because what they forgot to mention upon my enrollment was that the school wasn’t even accredited as a school. Yep.
I graduated, got a job as a Youth Care Worker in a group home, and here I am over 3 years later, still there. Not a sex therapist. Not even a degree holder.
I decided that this was it, I was going to enroll in university and I was going to be productive this time. I was going to do my school work and do it well. I started in June ready to succeed. Well, June came and went, and with it my sanity. The semester was hard. I mean really hard. I even failed a class. I tried, and I failed, and I felt awful, but instead of giving up, I told myself to try harder this semester. I bought a Planner, I bought my own desk instead of using my boyfriend’s, I made lists, I checked them off, I made a schedule, I stuck to it.
My brain was screaming at me to lay down and give up. But I didn’t. I forced the productivity. And, guess what? IT WORKED.
I started feeling less and less shitty. I started feeling strong and successful and like I could do it. Being productive and getting shit done made me feel less like a failure. I could and can feel my depression getting easier to deal with every day.
Well, what worked and what didn’t?
Buying my own desk
Having my own work space to write blog posts, to work on school, and to store my things helped tremendously. I always felt like my work space wasn’t mine. Like I was borrowing it. And I was because it was my boyfriends. I feel like a big girl now that I have my own desk, as weird as that sounds. Seriously though, I’ve done a complete 180 since getting my own desk. The desk I use is this one (in the photo above) : https://amzn.to/2S1EoGz
It’s very small so if you have a lot of work to do, like running your own business, maybe look for a bigger one. But for me, and my tiny apartment, it’s perfect. I also have this book case: https://amzn.to/2W785oR next to it for extra storage.
Getting a planner
Nothing feels better than crossing off something from your to-do list. Since I started using a planner I have seriously been getting so much more done. I thought the whole planner craze was kind of BS, until I got one. I have been obsessed with planning lately, it’s unreal. The planner I use is a Hobbry planner that I got from Chapters/Indigo. Here it is: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/paper/2018-2019-17-month-medium/680175880760-item.html?ikwsec=Paper&ikwidx=1
Waking up early
Even though I dilly dally for hours sometimes before starting my day, waking up early creates this illusion of being productive. I have written more about this in other blog posts, so I’ll keep this short, but wake up before noon. I promise, it may suck at first, but then it’s awesome.
What didn’t work
Getting mad at myself when I just couldn’t.
Sometimes I would wake up and I just couldn’t get out of bed, or I couldn’t cross anything off my to-do list. That’s okay, but it was hard not to beat myself up over it. Forcing productivity helped my depression, but it didn’t cure it. You’re still going to have days when depression wins, and on those days, you just gotta let it run its course.
Staying up too late
Staying up past midnight is like a siren for me. I don’t know why but for as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in late. I have the waking up part down pat but going to sleep early still kind of sucks for me. It’s something I’m still working on.
What I’m still working on
Creating a work/school/blog schedule that works for me and still leaves time for me. I’m hoping to create a solid schedule that I follow every day, and I might even get into time blocking. That might even be a bit much for me though.
sometimes I sit down to get to work and all of a sudden, I realize I’ve been jamming to music for an hour and have gotten nothing done. I need to work on the mindless procrastination I can’t seem to shake.
I hope what you take from this is even if you are feeling so low that there’s no point to check anything off that to-do list, there is. Productivity may be an illusion, but it’s one that can make you feel like a person again. Even if all you do is get out of bed, have a coffee, and make a plan for the day, you’ll feel better. I find on days I don’t want to do anything, planning all of the things I want to get done motivates me to do them.
Good luck, friends!