Pondering the meaning of productivity

Pondering the meaning of productivity

What do you think of when you hear the word “productive?”

A common understanding of the word may include working hard and having something to show for it at the end.

If you Google it, the popular search engine spits out, “engaged in the production of goods, crops or other commodities” or “achieving or producing a significant amount or result.”

Work life can form a large part of one’s identity, as work is what we “produce.”

With more people out of work, or working reduced hours, or maybe just getting back to work, maybe it’s time to start changing the way we think about being so-called “productive.”

Growing up, I remember eagerly waiting for my dad to get home from work. When he came in the door, I would often ask him how his day was as my way of welcoming him home.

In my memory, his response was often something like, “Oh, it was alright, although I didn’t get much done. I felt like I shuffled paper around for most of the day.”

I think I internalized that sentiment a bit, and took it to mean that for a day to have been of value, one needed to have achieved something tangible and measurable.

This was great as far as instilling a strong work ethic in me. I get a lot of personal satisfaction and sense of fulfillment from working.

In my personal life though, sometimes I’m a bit hard on myself on days where I’m maybe not feeling my best and I haven’t gotten much done.

That feeling was especially hard to combat during the years I was a stay-at-home mom.

Without the structure and routine that a work week provides, has your sense of productivity slid downhill?

I think there are two types of people: those who wake up at a certain time each day no matter what, and put their hands to whatever task that’s needed or can be found, or the I-don’t-have-to-leave-the-house-today-so-I’m-not-wearing-real-pants type people.

Those are my people.

I mean, why be uncomfortable if you don’t have to be?

Whatever camp you fall into, I hope you enjoyed the May long weekend.

May long weekend in Alberta is an occasion of a kind — the first long weekend of the season, with hopefully warmer weather. It’s a time of renewal, welcoming spring-turning-to-summer.

Even if you didn’t get to enjoy the holiday the same way this year as you usually do, I hope you and yours made the most of it, whatever that looked like to you.

For our family, it was a mix of some excitement, working together outside, and relaxing and not doing much at all.

On Saturday, we took the kids to Jurassic Forest north of Edmonton, as it was just opening up for the season, and we’d never been before.

Although it was a bit disconcerting trying to keep an appropriate distance from other families on the path, the kids were delighted at the animatronic dinosaurs that would surprise us as they started to move and roar, partially camouflaged among the foliage.

We played mini golf without keeping score, and had ice cream on the way home.

I couldn’t tell you what we did on Sunday, but it was quiet, family time spent together, likely watching movies for a good part of the day and just being around each other.

On Monday, we spent a good chunk of the day in the front yard, disassembling an old garden rock wall (which the boys thought was fantastic, taking to the task with much enthusiasm) and building a new one out of interlocking stone.

We rototilled and dug out the old plants, weeds and encroaching lawn, added new soil, and planted new shrubs and flowers.

It isn’t much yet, but hopefully in time, it will blossom and be something beautiful to look at.

See, life is like that sometimes. We don’t always see the fruits of our labour immediately.

It’s not always about the immediate result, or checking off something on a list.

We may feel frustrated or discouraged when all we can see are tasks unaccomplished or things unachieved, but there are different ways to be productive.

Being productive can also look like: taking the time for self care; to connect with others; to renew your soul; for purposeful rest.

My kids probably won’t remember many details about our weekend as time passes, but hopefully those happy feelings endure and stay with them … like planted seeds.

As the garden we planted grows and matures and spreads out in the years to come, so will they.

Here’s hoping you had a fun, but safe, relaxing, yet productive May long weekend.