Leibee: Productivity shouldn’t hinder your health

Katrina Leibee

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

A few weeks ago, on top of an already stressful week, I lost my wallet and house keys on campus. I’m not one for mental breakdowns, but one was looming. To counter this, I took out my laptop and began doing homework. Although I was on the verge of tears, I figured, “There is still work to be done.”

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Later on, I realized it was probably unhealthy to just continue working through a stressful situation — I should’ve allowed myself to calm down. I thought, “You know, not everything always has to be productive. As a human being, I don’t always have to be productive.”

My mental break led to productivity because I came up with this column. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

We’ve been taught that any time spent doing something unproductive is ultimately a waste of time. Have you ever had a small break between classes? If you have, you likely went to some building on campus and pulled out your laptop to get some work done.

Even the slightest gaps of time in our days where we’re not in class, at work or participating in a club or activity is generally thought of as time to be spent doing homework — or at least giving off the illusion we’re doing homework by having our laptops in front of us. 

It’s unhealthy and strenuous to always be focusing on productivity or trying to turn every minute of free time into something productive. That’s not how life is going to be nor is it how it should be. 

In fact, it might actually increase your productivity to give yourself downtime. Overworking yourself can cause burnout that slows you down and makes it harder to focus.

As a society, we don’t necessarily prioritize activities that are creative, healthy and peaceful, which is likely what causes burnout among college students.”

One day, I came home to my roommates who had made a calendar where we could map out our days, detailing where we were, accounting for every hour. Living as a type B personality among type A’s, I couldn’t understand it. My schedule changes daily, and I’m not one to have every hour of my day mapped out, even if that would make me more productive.

Not everyone’s personalities allow them to be productive all the time — and that’s okay. As a society, we don’t necessarily prioritize activities that are more creative, healthy and peaceful, which is likely what causes burnout among college students. We are taught that every activity and minute of spare time should be productive work.

This might be why we join multiple clubs and organizations that we don’t necessarily have time for. Many college students likely answer the question, “What is your greatest weakness?” with “I overcommit,” or “I can’t say no to things.”

We are told that continuous and constant productivity will get us to our goals, but we don’t think about how we are also human. It’s not natural to be working and to be productive as often as we are.

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Not to be the person that lectures about the past and traditions we have lost, but meals used to be hours long. People used to sit down and eat lunch and dinner for hours at a time, just talking. Now, meals are not only quick, but the meals we do sit down to eat usually include our laptops and doing homework.

It’s perfectly okay to not do anything. In fact, it’s probably good for you. It’s okay to not have every minute of your day planned out, especially if that is not your personality. 

Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.