Mental Health and Work/Life Balance

Toxic Productivity

In 1639, John Clarke said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

I go to bed early and like other older folks I can no longer sleep through the night, so I suppose I wake up early. So, I should have it made. But I don’t.

I am retired. I could be going for a walk or reading a book. I live in the country near a lake and the weather is lovely. I could be out for a walk. I could be paddling my canoe. I could be sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time. But no, here I am posting about toxic productivity. Ironic, isn’t it?

Something deep inside my tortured soul drives me to be productive. Not to be healthy (or I would be taking that walk or doing some yoga). Not to be wealthy (or I would be doing something that I can be paid for). And not to be wise (or I would be reading a book or taking a course.) But to be productive. Always productive.

I am not sure exactly when it became so engrained in my psyche that I have to constantly be achieving something, but I suspect it was the practice of law that did it. Back in those days I was just about as productive as you can be. I worked long hours, including evenings and weekends. I spent most of my lunch hours entertaining clients and referral sources. I spoke to clients and referral sources on my commute to and from work. I scrupulously docketed and billed for every minute. Always productive. Never wasting time.

I did not waste time going to the gym. I did not waste time taking care of my physical or mental health. I did not waste time working on my relationships. I certainly did not waste time trying to achieve inner peace. I was productive as all get out. Toxically productive.

“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…” is a quote from Charles Spurgeon. I think that it means that you have to live in the present as you wish to live in the future. I am treating my retirement as a new beginning, and I am trying to unlearn the toxic productivity of my legal career which made me wealthy, but not healthy or wise. And so I shall now put away my keyboard and head out to the dock to waste some time.

2 replies on “Toxic Productivity”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *