dirty dishes in the kitchen sink

relaxation and busywork

dirty dishes in the kitchen sink

While trying to manage all of my many responsibilities, I found that my productivity suffers the most when I let myself worry too much about the busy work I have to do each day. I used to put so much pressure on myself to get everything done that I usually got nothing done and instead wound up sitting on the couch watching television. Afterwards, I often felt extremely guilty for not only failing to get everything done, but also for wasting perfectly good relaxation time.

So after a few months of this, I finally figured out a way to keep up my productivity, get the busy work done, and still have time to relax. I decided to try to combine my relaxation time with the busy work. I don’t always do it, but I’ve learned that with certain tasks, I can adjust my attitude and actually become quite relaxed by the mindlessness of them. I found that by combining relaxation time with the tasks, I actually create more quality time for myself at the end of the day, and I get my bigger, more important tasks accomplished much quicker.

I first got this idea one day while washing the dishes. I came out of a weird trance to discover how intently, but calmly I was wiping dry each dish. I realized that the activity of it, the routine of flipping the dish over, then stacking it, was actually pleasing to me. I usually hate doing dishes, but that day I was sort of enjoying myself. I realized that if only I could change the way I thought of doing the dishes, then I could get something out of it. Instead of thinking of it as a chore, I started thinking of it as a puzzle to solve or a game to play.

I understand that this sounds a bit childish, but I think in order to be able to accomplish these tasks, I had to change my perspective. I tried applying this new perspective to the other tasks I hate, like folding laundry and answering emails. I was mostly successful this way too. I combined, for example, my email checking with my morning coffee. In the mornings, I like to sit outside and drink my coffee as I wake up. Because my mind is so used to the relaxation of this activity, I found that adding one simple task to it, like checking my email, didn’t actually disturb me all that much. I told myself that I could enjoy the morning and answer one or two emails. Then later, I wouldn’t feel stressed about those two emails while I was working on a bigger, more important project.

That has been the greatest advantage of this experiment so far: I have more energy to focus on the bigger things in my life, because the anxiety over the little things has lessened. Combining my relaxation time with my busy-work has allowed me to sort of enjoy both. Then at the end of the day, I can really sit back and relax, knowing full well I’ve accomplished all my goals, and all because of a slight attitude adjustment.

This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: olivia.coleman33 @gmail.com.

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