The thing about being sick is that it forces you to relax. Such was the case for me last spring, when I missed nearly a week of school from being sick. It’s hard to do anything – let alone anything productive – when you’re lying in bed all day, so I took that week as an opportunity to relax.

When I started to feel better, I compensated for my week of bed-ridden unproductivity by creating a gigantic to-do list and filling in my agenda and calendar. As I did these things, I felt a wave of familiarity wash over me. At the time, I thought I was back in business. Looking back on it, it was more like I was back to busy-ness.

Busy means something different to each of us. While we are all busy in our own different ways, one thing a lot of us have in common is that sometimes we forget that we don’t need to be busy all of the time.

I am definitely guilty of that. If I wake up in the morning and don’t have something written in my agenda for the day, I am lost. My reliance on to-do lists is fine; my problem is what is actually on the lists. I schedule so many things for myself to do that I forget to relax. I suspect that this is a common problem, so I have devised a few solutions for it that I myself am going to make an effort to follow.

First, try tricking yourself into thinking that what you are doing to relax is productive (because in some cases, it actually might be). For example, something I like to do to relax is read. Often times I find myself putting off reading, because I don’t see an “end result” like I do with other things such as writing.

However, I have tricked myself into creating an end product from my reading. When I start reading a new book, I write the name of the book and the author at the top of a page in a notebook. Then, as I’m reading I write down all of the quotes I like from the book.

I don’t use the quotes very much – a few have appeared in my writing, but that’s about the extent of it. Creating this quote book gave me a way to feel productive as I relax, because I am creating something from it.

Another important thing to consider is that being productive can mean a ton of different things. Often, we feel that we are only being productive when we are working towards completing one specific goal or task. I feel this way about writing. I have several writing-related projects that I am actively working on.

When I am not writing, I feel like I am being unproductive. However, just because I am being unproductive towards that specific goal doesn’t mean I am being unproductive in general! Today I took some time off writing to scrapbook which is another passion of mine.

I reminded myself that although I wasn’t being productive towards a writing-related goal, I was being productive towards another goal: finishing my summer scrapbook (you can tell how productive I have been towards this goal, seeing as it is almost February…)

Last but not least, remember that pure and simple relaxation is okay. You will be more productive when you are working if you take some time to relax. Try scheduling in some time to be productive towards not being productive at all – indulge in a hobby, play a board game, take a walk. You deserve it!