In defense of being unproductive

This isn’t quite what you’d call a motivational confession but – I love being unproductive.

If you pop on to Pinterest or just about any large magazine-type site you’ll find a ton of articles all about how to squeeze the most productivity out of your day. How to fit in some kind of breathtaking bit of brilliance in between supper, washing up, prepping lunches, and getting to bed. How to multitask so that you can clear out your to-do list while simultaneously folding laundry and showering.

That’s great! Sometimes life is busy and you really do need to get 37 things done between the time your alarm wakes you up and the time your exhausted head hits the pillow.

But does every moment really need to be spent doing something productive? What happened to relaxing and just breathing and not doing anything in particular? I think there’s a pretty good argument in defense of being unproductive, to be honest!

In defense of being unproductive

There’s a great British expression (and once again I’m reminded that I wish I was more British than just by the ancestry gene pool because there are so many great expressions that you just can’t say outside of the UK without sounding like a bloody wanker – see what I did there?) called “faffing” and I want to adopt it as my personal motto.

The definition of faffing is essentially to waste time by doing useless or unnecessary tasks. It’s the exact opposite of the culture of busy-ness or productivity. Faffing is a very delightful albeit lazy way to spend a day to recover from being productive 40+ hours per week.

Obviously I can’t just lie around drinking tea and flipping through the pages of a book all the live-long day every day. I do have a job that requires me to leave the house and you know, do something from 10 am to 6 pm every Monday to Friday. I also have certain evenings where I might have to rush home from work straight to one of the schools for some kind of event that the kids have going on, and on Saturdays I take Breanna to dance class, then we usually run errands before getting home. 

However, I have definitely embraced the concept of slowing down when I don’t have to be go-go-go all the time. I consider it a survival necessity to be honest. If you never ever stop and let yourself do “nothing” then your stress levels are eventually going to explode. I can’t let myself get to that point. 

Every single weeknight I have the same ritual. After I’ve cleaned up the kitchen (George cooks most of the time so I wash the dishes), prepped the lunches for the next day, had my shower (yes, I’m a night shower person, I have no interest in getting up earlier than I already do), and said good night to everyone I go into the kitchen. I make myself a cup of tea and scrounge up a small snack like a couple of cookies or a chocolate bar. Then I take it all up to the bedroom and I either enjoy it while reading a book in bed or perusing the internet at my desk in the corner.

In defense of being unproductive
Tea and snacks in bed.

Is there something else I could be doing with that evening time? Oh, probably. But why? If I’ve been on the go since I rolled out of bed at 7 am, why on earth do I HAVE to be productive at 9 pm too? Hell no. That’s unwind before bed time for me, no exceptions.

I also focus on a slow living approach on the weekends. I try to spend a good deal of it in a state of non-productivity. Of course there are things that still need to get done. It’s easier to get some housecleaning in on a Saturday, and I also do laundry on the weekend. If I have some freelance work to do I will usually do that on one of those two days as well; I try to do it in the evenings throughout the week sometimes but my brain is often pretty fried by the time I get to sit down and work on anything.

Aside from those things, I generally fit in a whole lot of down time. I’ll read whatever book I have on the go, catch up on TV shows that we’ve missed during the week, wander about outside, take photos of whatever catches my eye, or just put my feet up. I think it’s important to have quiet moments in between the absolute necessities. 

In defense of being unproductive
But I don’t WANT to be productive all day long

There seems to be a guilt trip with productivity and people are so fond of using “oh my GOD I’ve been SO BUSY LATELY” as a badge of honor. I don’t know why. I am definitely not a member of the Culture Of Busy no matter what the first part of my domain says. After all, it’s “Busy ZEN Life” right? If I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that if I have too much busy time and not enough “faffing” time I get cranky, run down, and stressed out. It’s not a good combination. It almost always leads to me dealing with anxiety or getting sick. Or both.

I don’t believe in feeling guilty for choosing to relax and have a slow afternoon. It’s like the oxygen mask on the planes. If I don’t take care of myself when I need to then I’m not going to be much use for the other tasks in my life. It’s not a guilty pleasure – it’s a necessary break that we all need.

Do you feel guilty about being purposefully unproductive? Leave me a comment and tell me if you do! And if you’re already a slow living pro then tell me your favorite way to just chill out. 


In defense of being unproductive

19 thoughts on “In defense of being unproductive”

  1. This is a fantastic post. I definitely am one who has always had guilt about taking any downtime. I am trying to change this about myself– with mixed success. Baby steps, I suppose. At least I am proceeding in the right direction finally. 🙂

  2. This is an awesome site
    I can be guilty of this and maybe that’s not the word to use because we should never feel guilty when we aren’t productive
    We need to just let things flow and time is on our side and the job gets done
    I enjoy my quiet time always
    Cheers to faffing

    1. Exactly, and honestly I can write a whole other blog post on the nonsense of feeling guilty and how much I hate the term “guilty pleasure” even though we all say it.

      Faffers forever!

  3. Loved this article! Like you, if I’ve been on the go all day, I like to take some time in the evening for myself. And I don’t feel guilty about it at all!!!

  4. I completely agree! There is a huge stigma that we have to always be busy or productive (I partially blame technology for making us accessible to everything at our fingertips). Being unproductive gives your brain a break!

    1. That’s an excellent point, we have the whole world in our phone now so we can always be checking on every last little thing. It’s good to put it down, walk away, and just daydream or read or relax.

  5. It’s important to find the balance. I’d love to really slow down, but as a mom of 2 toddlers, trying to start my business when boys are already in beds… slowing down doesn’t take place every day.
    I see you like the philosophy of being “lazy”. I can recommend you books by Tom Hodgkinson: How to be Idle, How to be Free, The Idle Parent. I think you’ll love it.

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