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I Didn't Do The Thing Today: On letting go of productivity guilt

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So many of these let go and let breathe pieces of advice are just kept in the abstract when what would also be useful is “here’s how you set the boundary even if you haven’t done it before start now…” glad I borrowed it from the library. Obviously the "pro-productivity" genre contains its share of gems, doozies, and lots in between as well. She interviewed several interesting people and there’s maybe a small quote similar to quotes you’ve seen elsewhere included in the book.

I was picturing a more practical Laziness Does Not Exist, and while it gave those vibes, it did not live up to them. A remarkable combination: part broadside against our culture of frenetic busyness, part consolation for the days when things don't go to plan.in fact, i read a lot in the working better genre and hearing the same ol' case studies can get to me, too (it's almost like every author feels like they discovered growth mindset! We can learn from conversations, the problems we need to solve, the risks we take, growing older, rejection, and from discovery. There's the work thing, the catch-up thing, the laundry thing, the creative thing, the exercise thing, the family thing, the thing we don't want to do, the thing we've been putting off (despite it being the most important thing). There are definitely gems of reminders that we can only accomplish so much in a day and sometimes we need to accept we cannot do it all.

I also just find a source of endless frustration when authors make an active choice to name drop- and even more so when the name dropping comes from situations and interviews they weren’t even involved with. If I had a quarter for every time the author uses the words, “we,” “our,” or “us,” I could live off that for a few months. Packed full of thoughtful and thought-invoking quotes and passing on lived experiences of not having to be a Productivity Powerhouse all the time; you can just be a human too. She tried so hard to take her personal and generalize it but the intensely personal would have been more useful and interesting. Even on days where we get a lot done, the thing left undone can leave us feeling guilty, anxious or disappointed.

It’s perfect for people like me, who are a little too driven, slightly OCD, and have some Catholic guilt! i'd meander through the book like you might do when hiking outdoors, letting your attention settle on whatever captures it. It was inspired by my conversation with a farmer who started his day with a dollop of clotted cream on his porridge. It’s in tensions, problems, and mistakes that we learn; it’s one of the most important things about being alive.

It’s a great approach for a productive day, but beginning our day with dread can make it hard to get out of bed. For anyone who has ever felt the pressure to do more, be more, achieve more, this antidote to our doing-obsession is the permission slip we all need to find our own way. The point is that if we begin by feeling the day can’t get any better than this, then we’ll likely bring a mood that proves it can. I liked that the book wasn’t about “how to be more productive”, but rather how to prioritize a life well lived.

She has contributed columns and features to Sunday Life, BBC WorkLife, ArtsHub, 99u, Womankind, Kill Your Darlings, The Design Files, ABC Life and more.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being productive—we all need to get things done—but when we conflate productivity with self-worth, we never measure up. Rather than making us better, this “doing obsession” may leave us overwhelmed, burnt out, dissatisfied, inadequate, and alone. the term 'day artist' didn't jive with me, but otherwise i found myself smiling and nodding as i turned the pages. It’s present in the ways we get to know ourselves, express ourselves, question what we believe, and discover what we want—it’s in how we live our lives.But if we are curious about the ordinary moments, if we tend to them, if we get the good out of every bit…what a life we will have created. As others have noted, it's not particularly groundbreaking, but there are some noteworthy takeaways from it, if you can slog through all of the quotes. There's the work thing, the catch-up thing, the laundry thing, the creative thing, the exercise thing, the family thing, the thing we don't want to do, and the thing we've been putting off, despite it being the most important thing. It’s easily overlooked that our indecision is a decision that keeps us suspended, stuck in limbo, and sometimes opportunities pass us by. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.

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