In Korea, the MBTI test is a rage. The last letter of one’s MBTI is either a P or a J, the former meaning you’re a procrastinator, and the latter that you’re a planner. My MBTI ends with a J. Naturally as a J, I strive for productivity. My scheduler is usually filled with things to do. I use black, blue, pink, and occasionally red to write down the more important arrangements. Sometimes I’ll even throw in a couple purple or orange highlights to mark special days.
In the 2 months of my summer vacation, of course I tried to be productive, but it didn’t always turn out the way I wanted. Even when I had days off, I didn’t know what to do with myself because I wanted to relax productively. This got me wondering, what exactly does it mean to be “productive?” Does productivity always have to be linked with academic success? Or is it just a way of life?
The Cambridge Dictionary states that productivity means “the rate at which a person, company, or country does useful work.” If this is the true definition of productivity, why are there countless posts explaining how to “relax productively?” Does productivity only count when one is engaging in “work?”
Take Wednesdays for example. Usually, I don’t have any fixed plans on Wednesdays and can use them as I wish. I can take naps, watch movies, buy groceries, or go to the gym. In the 24 hours of utter freedom, I often feel guilty because I don’t feel like I’m relaxing productively. If I only watch entertaining videos for hours on end, I’ll have an awakening where I feel total helplessness from the thought that I completely wasted my day.
On some Wednesdays I tried to be more productive by waking up early and going to the gym, reading books or the news and educating myself with current affairs. On other days I failed, sleeping in until the sound of restless cicadas woke me up, being a couch potato and losing motivation to work out, and lying on my bed only to waste time until dinner.
There are famous ways to practice productivity. Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven wrote a whole book on why we should make our bed every day. If you make your bed as soon as you wake up, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that you started your day right. I noticed that on days I’m able to wake up early, make my bed and go to the gym, I feel very productive and want to complete my day with the same energetic spirit. On days I failed to wake up early and decided to stay home instead of working out, I’ll feel that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and give up trying to make things right.
After nearly 2 months of trial and error I think I finally realized the definition of productivity. You don’t necessarily have to read, study, do household chores, or run errands to be productive. You can be productive by meeting friends, taking naps, and watching movies as well. It all depends on how you feel about it.
If you feel guilty that you’re doing something wrong, you know you’re not on the right track. If you know your nap was too long, if you think you shouldn’t have watched that third movie, if you know you shouldn’t have laid down in bed in the middle of the day – you know deep down you weren’t productive.
On some days I’ll meet my friend, watch a movie, come home to make dinner for my family and do some house chores. Although none these activities have to do with academic success, I’ll feel extremely productive. This is the difference between relaxing productively and wasting time. So, to be simple, on days off, do whatever it takes to relax and whatever makes you feel good. But when you hit a certain point where you know you’re doing something wrong, that’s the signal for you to get up and get moving.