Unproductive Days are Not the End of the World

the break you didn’t plan on can be useful — but don’t bother asking Alexa for help

Sometimes you wake up with a plan and spend your entire day spinning in slow unproductive circles, not really accomplishing much of anything. In clumsy movements you get the coffee made. You try to make the list for the day and even that seems tedious.

I started this day with hella-plans. Then it took me until 4pm to even get dressed.

The echo Spot, staring at me from her place on the bedside table — I thought — might help today. I haven’t used my little “assistant” in a while.

Alexa herself attempted to thwart my meager efforts to get a shopping list made.

“Hey Alexa, create Robbie’s Shopping List.” (The Echo Spot is a handy thing when you need to multitask or save the typing fingers — right?)

“Got it. Robeez Shopping List. What would you like me to add?”

“Alexa, add Totino’s Pizza to Robbie’s Shopping List.”

“Hm. There is not a Robbie’s Shopping List. Would you like for me to create one?”

“Yes.”

“Got it. What would you like me to add to Robbie’s Shopping List?”

“Alexa, add Totino’s Pizza to Robbie’s Shopping List.”

“Adding Thirteen Does Pizza to the shopping list.”

“Alexa, add Totino’s Pizza to ROBBIE’S Shopping List.”

“Adding How Dino’s Pizza to Robeez Shopping List”

At one point somehow I ended up with butter pizzas. At this point Robbie and I were in hysterics. It was after noon, I was hungry, still in my nightgown with an ice-pack on my neck. Robbie was ready to go to the store for my pizzas and a few other things and for crying out loud all I needed Alexa to do was to make my list for me and text it to him. Easy-peasy right?

“Alexa, add TOTINO’S PIZZA to ROBBIE’S SHOPPING LIST.”

“Adding large pizzas to Robeez Shopping List”

“Shit”

“Adding shit to Robeez Shopping List.”

Seriously?

“Alexa, delete Robeez Shopping List.”

“If you want to delete a list, you will have to do this via the Alexa app on your phone.”

Good. Grief.

All kidding aside — something about my day was just not going as planned.

I didn’t get out of my nightgown today until after 4 pm. I can’t blame that on Alexa. (She didn’t do much to help, though.) My family didn’t seem to mind me shuffling around the house in half-present groans. Working on the computer looked more like me staring at umpteen tabs open and toggling between them as if I’d entered a room and forgotten why I was there.

Aside from about a half hour of editing a client’s poetry chapbook this afternoon while dinner was cooking — I can’t tell you what I did today.

Don’t we all have days like that?

Complete unproductive waste.

You may be tempted to panic. You’ve attempted to start a half-dozen tasks and find it difficult to focus on them and even harder to complete them.

There’s no use in casting blame at an easy target (Alexa, our job, our family members, our bum neck or carpal tunnel or that super-annoying thing that’s been bugging you lately.)

Why do we need something to blame? A reason?

Because we want an excuse. We need to be able to tell others why we are not functioning up to par today. To alleviate guilt. To stave off responsibilities.

But this is totally unnecessary. What isn’t done in the unproductive moments is simply made-up for later. Of course, there are things you cannot put off and they must be done. If you really think about it though, isn’t a lot of what we plan to do throughout our day self-imposed?

Sometimes you choose the break — sometimes the break chooses you.

I realized today that I was feeling rather deflated. Like a chubby-Grandma balloon that had her air let out. I’d swooshed about a bit and flopped. Aside from forcing myself into activity, my body and mind had decided the day for me.

I didn’t take a mental health day, but one was served up for me in the form of too much pain this morning to function and a sudden sucking-dry of my energy. Something was wrong — I just didn’t really know what it was.

Very Well Mind author Elizabeth Scott, MS shares her analysis of taking a Mental Health Day in her article “When You Should Take a Mental Health Day.” She reminds us that an effective mental health day can help you:

  • De-stress
  • Reset your perspective
  • Take a step back to evaluate
  • Get a handle on your emotions
  • Relax
  • Rest

In reading her article it occurred to me that I hadn’t even realized I was stressed… I’d been shoving that away, powering through, getting things done that I had decided for myself I had to do. Working from home is both a blessing and a curse — because you are always at work.

I realized I began working for this online platform, blogging, daily — for 7 months. Working it hard, pushing, sharing, building for 7 months and hadn’t taken a single day off from it. I am the kind of person that thinks sleep is a waste of time — I can’t possibly be doing “all the things” if I am sleeping!

What if I miss something? (When I wake up in the morning I scramble for the remote and go straight to the news — in case I missed something.)

It doesn’t matter that I love the work. Humans need mental breaks and I wasn’t giving myself any, even with a neck injury and all the complications to my life that is bringing.

I’d like to say I did something magical with my mental health day. I feel like I wasted it. So much “blah” and “chilling” was occurring that the day slipped by me like a slow moving river. I didn’t take the time to enjoy it or revel in it.

I think I will plan the next mental health day.

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read another article, perhaps one on mental health, here is one I recommend: Let’s Face It — I am Out of Spoons.

Christina Ward 💗POM!💗 is a poet, essayist, and nature-loving spoonie from North Carolina.

𝘐 𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭-𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘳. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘫𝘢𝘮.

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