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Productivity v/s Piddling

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post this morning. I was very happy to have discovered I had $114 in my Amazon account from the Amazon settlement and I really wanted to finally buy the perfect bag I’ve been shopping for forever. I found the bag (I don’t know if it’s perfect in general – BUT – it’s definitely going to be perfect for my vacation coming up to Breckenridge.) and had time to kill so I surfed around Facebook for a bit and found this article about the art of piddling.

A piddler does not fix a leaky washing machine, or a slipping transmission, or a hole in a roof. Such work is necessary, and the more necessary a labor is, the farther from piddling it becomes. A piddler may use tools, but only small, light ones, and only on things that are not needed right then. Changing out a car battery in the dead of winter is not piddling, because it is a necessity. But tinkering with a lawn mower in the middle of February is, especially if the grass is deader than Great-Aunt Minnie’s house cat and buried under a foot of snow. Doing a load of laundry is, of course, not piddling. Organizing one’s sock drawer by color and fiber is.

I’ve been debating myself lately about this weird illusion our society has created where success (or PERCEIVED success) is defined by:

1) How busy you are
2) How little sleep you get
3) How much you check off on your To Do list
4) How little time you waste

This has been a debate in myself because I’m an inherit planner (a trick to combat anxiety as mentioned yesterday in the comments) and so time should not be wasted. BUT! I’m also very proudly dependent on my sleep and refuse to sacrifice that if I can avoid it.

I’m often reading or hearing people talk about “how little sleep they get” and here I am doing my best to get in bed by 8pm and feeling suddenly like I’m less because of it.

I love to veg out and watch TV. LURVE IT. But, I often have this one part of me that’s like: GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING because I feel like if I’m not DOING something on my list then I’m a failure. But then there’s another part of me (the part that LURVES sleep) that says, “Life is short. Who cares if the floor is clean. This activity right here is making me happy.”

The article about piddling hit home because I used to piddle a lot more. I used to organize things for no reason other than I liked organizing. I used to rearrange furniture and rearrange the stuff on my desk. I HAVEN’T DONE THAT IN AGES. This article reminded me how nice it is to busy yourself doing something completely unnecessary while convincing yourself it is totally necessary in that moment. I MISS PIDDLING.

I feel like I have two very different parts of my brain battling it out and I think that’s not a surprise as I’ve always showed characteristics of having an engineering-type brain AND an artist-type brain. They’re both there but neither are dominant enough to provide any guidance. I’ve always been good at and and love math, but I’m also a very qualified space case who daydreams and doodles. I don’t do either WELL, but they are both very present and often create these dueling moments which DOES NOTHING TO HELP MY ANXIETY.

Let’s nap! And then let’s color in that new coloring book! And then let’s put all of our Harry Potter memorabilia on that one shelf that is boring upstairs.

The floor is gross. I need to clean the upstairs toilet. I’m behind on my email.

And it’s not even like it’s obvious which one will make me HAPPY because I’m just as happy wasting time with my Harry Potter knickknacks as I am crossing chores off my To Do list. What I’m not happy with is ONE voice in my head berating the other voice when the decision has been made.

And I’m also not happy that society seems to push me towards my “To Do” list more when – WHY? WHY ARE WE CONSTANTLY GOING GOING GOING AND NEVER SLEEPING? WE NEED MORE SLEEP, PEOPLE.

(Says the girl who wakes up before 4am at least 5 days a week.)

I had to cancel several therapy sessions in a row due to an inability to get it in around work as I’m about to go on vacation and need to get paid for as many hours as possible to make up for the days with no paycheck. This is a sucky fact of life that you forget about if you live with a salaried job. By the time I see my therapist again it will have been over a month and while she gave me homework that goes along with a lot of the work we’ve been doing, I think I’m going to shift gears with her instead when I see her and go in this direction. How do I find the right balance for me? How do I avoid neglecting the piddler/artist side of my brain because all of my friends doing ALL OF THE STUFF on Facebook make me feel guilty? How do I find the balance between “Doing what life needs me to do” and “Not forgetting the value of mindless piddling” to keep me at peace and to manage my anxiety?

Also – I gave up training. Not only did I realize I can’t run successfully through the night – thereby breaking me of my goal of 100 miles at my race in September; but I also realized it’s impossible for Donnie and I to both train during the same season. (I know. This is a lesson we already learned but we thought it would be easier since he was just running and not doing multi-sport training.) I’m running maybe 20 miles a week now? And it’s kinda nice. I’m going out for 3-5 mile runs a few times a week and THAT IS IT. And as guilty as I feel as an ultra-runner, it has been SUCH A TREAT not having to plan my life around running.

So, yeah. I need to find the balance because whenever I allow myself time to piddle, or a break from obligations, I am happier because of it. But then the guilt sets in because it feels like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD IS SUPER PRODUCTIVE AND SACRIFICING SLEEP AND I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO NAPS ANYMORE.

Where do you fall on the piddling/productivity scale?

6 thoughts on “Productivity v/s Piddling”

  1. Oh girl… you have just put voice to something I have thought but didn’t know I was thinking. What’s funny is that while you speak about feeling pressured or guilty because of ALL OF THE STUFF your Facebook friends are doing; I feel just the same about what YOU are doing! LOL Maybe we are just never satisfied with ourselves and think everyone else has it more together. Maybe YOU have it right, in doing what makes you happy and shouldn’t give a flying flip if anyone else naps or not, or colors in their HP coloring book. Believe me, I truly believe taking care of yourself (and you know that when you take care of yourself, you are able to be a better mom) is more important than whether the floor is mopped or furniture dusted. (Hey, maybe now that the kids are older, you can turn that kind of stuff into a dance party… 2 birds/1 stone thing.)

  2. I’m variable on the scale. Some days I am work, work, work…. Gotta get this done and that done. Other days I want to sit and do nothing!

  3. My dad is anti-piddling. When I had my first apartment, I always felt like I needed to be up and doing something, and it took a bit for me to realize it’s MY house and I can lay on the couch and binge tv if I want. And that’s usually what I want.

  4. I totally second what ^Karen said! And also, I am totally a piddler. And I laughed a couple times during your post because that is also the term we use when a puppy or dog is not yet house-trained and has accidents inside. Which is clearly not the way you are using it (since you even defined it) but that’s where my brain went. 😀

  5. I think piddling AND productivity are both important. Productivity helps me clear my to-do list, which gives me time where I DON’T have stuff to do, which helps my sanity; and piddling helps me relax, which also helps my sanity. I could probably be a lot more productive, but that’s for MY benefit, not so I feel better compared to what someone else is doing. I don’t think not getting enough sleep is anything to brag about. If people don’t NEED that much sleep, then by all means, use the time awake to piddle or get stuff done or just relax. But I refuse to feel bad because someone else is missing out on sleep so they can feel accomplished because they changed a car battery or whatever. My mother was very big on getting what you need to do out of the way first, so then you can focus on what you WANT to do. (Vegetables first, then dessert.) As long as you’re not stuck with no clean laundry because you were coloring for hours, it shouldn’t matter if you were coloring for hours.

  6. (Totally missing the point of your entry but…)

    I’ve been looking at buying a Haiku bag too!! I hope you love it! And I hope you post PICTURES of it and your thoughts on it!!

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