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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Rest is a productive use of time

Remove your guilt for not being productive 24/7 

By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 

“Ugh, I’ve done nothing all day.” It’s something I hear so often from my classmates, siblings, parents, friends and even strangers at coffee shops. I also feel this guilt, especially on restful days when I have not accomplished work or school-related tasks. But I have come to realize through many experiences with burnout and exhaustion that rest is a productive act.

So many people I come across, including myself, suffer lots of guilt when they have been unproductive — which, in this case, means not having done as much work as was expected of them. Alternatively, any time spent laying down or relaxing is described as lazy and bad. I firmly believe that these days or moments of “unproductivity” are indicators that you need to pause or take a break. 

Say you are of the type that likes to work even through bouts of exhaustion. When you work through periods of tiredness, you don’t do a great job at the task at hand and so you stay up late, procrastinating and grudgingly making it right up until the deadline. Then the cycle repeats and you find yourself still not well rested, but with more work to do. It goes on and on and on. 

Imagine that when you feel the exhaustion and burnout coming on — even if you have not completed as much work as you hoped for — you take a pause. Take me as an example. About a week and a half ago I reached a point that I felt I could not produce more work. I felt mentally and physically drained. My body was giving me all the signals that I needed to let myself take complete rest. So, I tuned into the queues. 

I did not do any glamorous acts of self-care. To be honest, I slept a lot even though it was a weekday, I focused on fulfilling my basic needs of eating and drinking, getting showered and unplugging from things that were stressing me out. A key difference I made during this “pause” was removing myself from the guilt for taking a day or two to myself. After taking time to completely listen to my needs to rest, I felt recharged and ready to get back to my work. 

Unfortunately, it feels like nearly everyone can relate to a feeling of being exhausted and overworked, whether they’re a student or in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call to people across the country that the 9 to 5 workweek is outdated. Research has shown that in an eight-hour workday, most workers are only productive for three hours. There is hope that after learning from the pandemic, institutions and corporations will become more attuned to giving students and employees time to rest and recharge. 

Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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