Productivity is a state of mind

Or maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself, given that I can’t seem to post consistently enough anywhere for more than a month or so at a time.

In the end, it’s probably better for me to own up to it:

I start too many projects and I finish too few of them.

I admitted to my boyfriend the other day: “I used to be a more ambitious person, way back when. I’m not really sure what happened.”

At the time, I traced it back to the four months I had something that must’ve been close to crippling depression. I was recovering from a trauma, and I was barely coming to terms with it as a person.

The only real healing I did was during my once-weekly sessions with a school therapist and in between drinks on Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and lots-of-fucking-drinking Wednesdays with my roommates at the time.

(It was good to get all of that talking out and done, but I don’t think I actually did anything about what I was feeling. I think I pulled a classic move and just swallowed everything up the way I always did and tried to move on from there.)

But I’m starting to think that maybe that dark six-month period of my life, as debilitating as my habits and my lifestyle were at that time, weren’t the start of my Period of Un-Productivity.

It probably started well before that. I don’t necessarily have an exact moment I can pinpoint, but it feels as if it’s been culminating all this time, in my habits and the way I do things.

If I don’t have a hard deadline, I don’t stick to it. This means that school, work, and more recently my freelancing, have always taken the priority in my head. This is all well and good — a me that’s hustling to make money and figure out what I’m doing in my industry is a me that feels happy and productive.

Usually.

The problem is, I have a lot of ideas that aren’t going to be fulfilled or satisfied with the writing I do in my line of work. I’m not going to be writing scripts or working through a whole bunch of narratives as a digital marketing and content writing specialist at a cyber security company. Most of what I do there is making sure that what I’m learning is articulated clearly, interestingly, and feeding into the larger purpose of the inbound marketing funnel.

It’s fulfilling for me as I pursue my career since I get to practice a lot of writing! But it isn’t fulfilling for me as a writer, putting more of my soul into my words than my intellect.

Now it’s not like I haven’t tried to stick to deadlines for more personal and creative projects. I try to work with people, collaborate on films, scripts, short stories, serials, other projects for myself and for other people. But I run into the same problem:

If there are no (hard?) deadlines, I still won’t follow them.

I’m a very controlling personality. The more I work in the professional world, the more and more I’ve started to expect a degree of competency from people.

(I attribute this character trait of mine to my boyfriend — he has ridiculously high standards that have rubbed off on me. But only for work. He’s still working on raising my standards for food, friends, etc. I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going some other time.)

So when I work with my friends on more creative projects, I expect them to be able to set the timelines and drive it. If they don’t, then I take it up, for fear of going absolutely insane. But since I prioritize my work and my clients, it inevitably ends up taking a back seat.

They’re not driving it, so I don’t feel like I’m responsible. If nobody’s pushing me to get something done, then I’ll dedicate myself to the work and the projects in which people are depending on me.

So… problem solved? I’ve found that the root cause of my problem lies in trying to please other people more than I want to please myself? I can address this problem by treating all of my projects and the things I want to accomplish as equally as I treat my work?

In theory, sure. In practice? No.

It’s going to be a long journey. I can feel it in my bones when I think about how much work inevitably goes into collaborating with people, or the way I’ll subject anything I write for my own projects to multiple rounds of revisions the way I do to the things I write at work. In the end, it always sounds overwhelming.

As an easily discouraged and overwhelmed person, the last thing I want to do is cut into the time I spend on relaxing. And that’s the problem that I need to address.

I need to learn how to prioritize the things that I want to do. I’ve clearly learned how to prioritize relaxing and the more personally indulgent things I want to do.

Now it’s all about finding and making the time for the projects that I want to accomplish on my own.

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