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Sometimes, It’s Okay To Be Unproductive

I wake up every day thinking of all of the things that I need to get accomplished, and I go to bed each night thinking about the tasks I have to do the next day. I live my life by crossing off things from a to-do list, and I honestly don’t know who I would be if I didn’t have my planner. 

However, centering my life on how I can have the most productive day possible only leads to burnout and frustration. If I don’t get everything on my list done, I can’t sleep at night. If I can’t sleep, I don’t have energy the next day to focus on piles of homework, classes, and sorority meetings. It’s a damaging cycle, and the word “productive” can become very toxic very fast. 

I think that it’s so important, especially in college, to change your perception of what being productive means. For me, I’ve started to write down self-care activities on my to-do lists. I write down that I want to paint my nails on a Friday night. I keep track of how many books I read, because not only is it fun, finishing one makes me feel the same amount of satisfaction I get from finishing a difficult assignment. 

But then there are those days that I’m in no mood to get out of bed. On Sundays, I hit snooze on my alarm and spend a decent chunk of my morning laying in bed and scrolling on my phone before I finally manage to convince myself to go out to get coffee. Then, when I get back to my apartment, I sit around unmotivated, and therefore, I’m “unproductive.”

Last semester I reached a point where I was physically, mentally, and emotionally burned out. I had a lot of family things going on, so I decided to drown myself in work to cope. I studied for hours and hours, even though my classes weren’t very difficult. I poured myself into my sorority and my leadership position, going out of my way to volunteer and help, even if that meant I was staying up late at night and not crawling into bed until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I was early to every class and offered to do more tasks than were necessary for group projects. 

This can be sustainable for only so long. Eventually, when you spend so much time working and saying yes to projects, you start to lose energy and drive. It was those rare days I actually spent recharging and not touching one piece of work that I started to feel more like myself again.

Being unproductive doesn’t mean you’re lazy. In fact, when you find the balance between girl bossing your way through college and taking self-care days for yourself, you’ll be able to feel much more accomplished at the end of each week. Not only will you have the energy to get through your busy day, but you’ll also feel physically better about doing simple tasks. Your mind will feel refreshed, and you’ll ultimately appreciate that you rested in the long run. 

I love being productive. It’s just in my type-A perfectionist nature to want to spend my entire day getting ahead in my schoolwork. However, being unproductive and spending time doing things just for fun is sometimes the best way to have a good day and not feel stressed at night when your head hits your pillow. 

Caitlin Eichhorn

Illinois State '23

Caitlin is a junior at Illinois State University studying Public Relations and Spanish. She is a member of Theta Beta chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma and loves being a writer for Her Campus. When she's not studying or writing her novel, she is watching 80s films or hockey highlights.
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