the notion of slow productivity


"The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind." — Caroline Myss

It was a Sunday.

I was lying face down on the window bed when my housemate came downstairs.

She laughed, because I was likely a comical sight.

"I thought I was going to be productive today," I groaned. "I meant to get all of these things done, but then I had this hour and a half long conversation and it took it out of me."

She reassured me that I had at least walked the dog (which I don't usually count as productive because I always do), I had spent some time preparing food in the kitchen (the bare minimum, though it was at least a nutritionally sound meal), and I had laundry in the washing machine (long overdue).

She also acknowledged that I was getting ahead of myself.

Some days are meant for catching up on tasks. And some days are just meant for catching your breath.

Neither is less productive, because as long as you're acting in service of your own needs, you're nurturing yourself and your goals in the right way.

"You are being productive," she said. "It just happens to be a different kind of productivity."

Sometimes our best laid, well-intentioned, constructive plans are not what happen to be in store for us.

Integration is productive.

From the outside, there doesn't appear to be much activity going on.

But your body and your brain is recuperating.

What is so important that it takes priority over your wellbeing?

That afternoon, instead of checking off items on my to do list, I left my phone downstairs. I kept my planner tucked deep in my bag.

I drew hot water for bath, pouring in epsom salts and a sprinkling of essential oils. I sipped on coconut water and lime. I took time to lather my hair. I slowly shaved my legs—quite the stark contrast to my usual hurried sweeps of the blade across my legs.

I let the heat envelop me.

And when I got out of the tub, I wrapped myself in thick blankets, promptly curled up on the couch and fell asleep.

It was a langourous afternoon.

And that in itself can be productive.

If you are lazy for the sake of avoidance, then sure, that can be lacking in productivity.

But so can burnout.

What is a bigger waste of your time? A couple hours here and there to properly recharge...or weeks (maybe even months) of recovering from pushing yourself too hard?

Rest is just productivity at a different speed.

If you are taking much-needed time to land, you're doing it right.

Just because you need to take extra time for rest does not mean you are shirking your responsible activities.

When it is time, you will return to busy activity.

But your brain can't properly function if you're not sleeping.

Likewise, your mind, body and spirit won't feel in alignment until you're taking productive rest when you need it.

Open yourself to the idea of slow productivity.

Iris Rankin

Soulful questioner, exuberant organizer, here to find the balance between discipline and delicious relaxation. Iris Rankin is the founder of Project Intention, a values-based community focused on living day-to-day with purpose, planning, and heart. Iris encourages women to adopt the self care practices that make them feel divine, the planning tools to hone in on their essential wants and needs, and the emotional resilience to express their most authentic selves.

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