Crossing off an item on your to-do list is arguably one of the most satisfying feelings. It’
is tangible proof of your productivity during the day telling you that yes, I achieved that. Whether you’re a list maker or a Reminders app user, keeping your homework, activities , and social to-do’s written down is a necessity during college. Days full of class and lots of coffee can make even the most organized students a bit scatterbrained. When this happens, having a list is valuable in keeping your mind on track. But, what happens when that list becomes your life?
TikTok shows us videos of how to become “that girl” who seemingly has every part of her life together. She journals, exercises, does her homework, etc. all while crossing those items off her list. There have even been new apps developed to help you manage your time and increase your daily productivity so that you might become the next “that girl.” However, this new emphasis on productivity can be especially harmful to your mental health and lifestyle.
Of course, not every day can be a rest day to veg out. But, holding oneself to an impossible standard of productivity is just as harmful as not being productive at all. With a list as your guide to life, what happens to your intrinsic motivation or your spontaneity? What happens when your daily tasks become things you just need to “cross off” instead of things you get to experience and enjoy? This mindset of “have to” instead of “get to” is simply not sustainable.
We cannot ignore the fact that our society functions in an individualistic manner where people are constantly striving to reach their next goal, which becomes a testament to their productivity when they finally achieve said goal. But, life is not only about achievement, it’s about experiences. Limiting oneself to a list, stops you from experiencing the spontaneity that your everyday life can hold. The current promotion of hyper-productivity has led us to forget that saying yes to something that’s not on our list can give a much deeper meaning to our day than checking off all your tasks can. Spontaneous Target runs with friends or late-night ice cream dates are the mental breaks we all need during our long college days to keep us from burning out.
So, let’s stop idolizing hyper-productivity. Having a plan, a goal, or a list is never inherently bad. But, if we let these become the center of our lives, we can forget the other meaningful parts of our lives, like walks with friends, morning coffee with a book, or scenic drives, that can’t always be penciled in but make life worth living.