In my last post related to productivity, “Unjobbing And Dejobbing“, I mentioned how limiting my Facebook consumption increased my productivity radically.
I’ve had a week in which I’ve done a huge, huge amount. I’ve turned down social invitations to do more work. And my reason was not “Sorry, I have to work,” but, “Sorry, I want to work.”
Limiting Facebook was a major factor in this, though I have to say I wouldn’t have reached this level of productivity without having gone through a long process of dejobbing. Really, limiting Facebook was a cause of greater productivity but also perhaps the result of greater productivity, or rather of an expanded capacity for productivity. I am sure that if I hadn’t gone through my dejobbing process, limiting Facebook would either be hard/impossible for me or I would replace it with some other addiction.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of Unjobbing and dejobbing here, so read that article if you want to learn more.
What’s been interesting is that in the last two days, I’ve felt the sudden need to take a rest. Is that interesting? For me, it is. Because previously, I worked so little that the need to take a rest would never really come up. I was resting all the time anyway.
Yesterday I noticed in my body and psyche a build up of tiredness, or the feeling of an excess of single-minded focus. Focusing more on my project felt uncomfortable to me, stressful. Focusing on other things was good. It’s like I needed to disconnect.
In fact, yesterday I felt a strange feeling I hadn’t felt for a while. I think this feeling is either unique to me or it’s just that no-one ever talks about it because our language and culture haven’t identified it as a thing. It’s a feeling of hollowness and aching in my chest, a strange combination of sadness and perhaps something like hunger. The only thing is, I’m not sad at anything in particular, and the feeling doesn’t go away when I eat.
This feeling, which I will coin “sunger” out of a combination of “sadness” and “hunger“, puzzled me for a long time when I experienced it. I originally interpreted it as loneliness, but I think it wasn’t that at all. Eventually I decided that it meant I wasn’t working enough.
No wonder there isn’t a word for it. Our culture doesn’t even recognise that people have an internal need to do healthy, positive work, or to be otherwise occupied in a positive way. We know people need money and usually have to work for it, but we don’t realise that we would work even without the motivation of money. (Incidentally, if people realised this, I think a huge pillar of capitalism would be broken down).
But I am sure that for me, at least, this feeling of sunger indicated an internal need to engage in some sort of positive occupation. Indeed, when I found my purpose, and started doing much more positive work as a consequence, I mostly no longer experienced it anymore.
Sometimes I would feel it when I spent too long in social settings. I would hang out for a long time (usually, to get this feeling, days in a row) with friends because that’s what my head told me I “should” do. But internally I yearned to do something productive.
This is (part of) why Unjobbing works. You don’t need to boss yourself around to want to work. You can break down and remove your “inner boss”, and the voice of your personal will will be more than happy to take over and motivate you to work.
But wait. Sunger is a feeling that happens when you work too little, right? So why was I feeling it yesterday?
Well, I simplified things. 95% of the time I’ve felt sunger, it’s meant I was working too little. But occasionally it’s meant something else.
Sometimes I’ve felt it when I was ignoring my intuition. I should have been somewhere, but instead I was somewhere else. The ache in my chest would make it eventually impossible to ignore that intuition.
And so I think perhaps sunger is an indication that you’re going against yourself. You’re doing what you think you want to do but are ignoring your internal compass.
So yesterday, I felt sunger because I was working too much.
It was also Christopher Street Day and I really should have been out at the Pride march, though. When I first felt sunger yesterday, I hadn’t even remembered that. So perhaps it was an indication that I was ignoring my intuition. Indeed, when I finally got out of the house, I felt like this was definitely where I was supposed to be.
Either way, I’m saying basically the same thing, though. I was ignoring my internal compass. What I needed then was to get out of the house, to change my rhythm a little, to connect with people and clear the cobwebs out of my head.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that I’m blogging about productivity issues that are so very basic. Everyone needs to take a rest sometimes.
Except that, because I’ve been starting from absolutely nothing, constructing my productivity patterns completely from the bottom up, I do need to go through these “obvious” realisations.
If I hadn’t gone through a dejobbing process to engage in Unjobbing, then I wouldn’t “know” I need a rest. In a normal job I would be forced to work so much I’d have to take a rest. And I would in fact be given rest days. I wouldn’t be deciding any of it.
When working for myself, without structure, without an inner or outer boss telling me what to do, I need to learn the actual reasons for things. I no longer work so many hours just because I have to. I no longer then rest so many hours because I have to. Instead I work so many hours because I want to, and rest so many hours because I want to.
I didn’t have a preconceived notion about how many hours I’d work or rest. I just knew I would aim to work or rest the number of hours that felt right according to my true voice, the voice of my uncoerced motivation. And as I went through my dejobbing process to connect with that voice, my work schedule slowly evolved from incredibly slobbish to actually quite active and productive.
Another interesting thing I’m finding out now is that I’m starting to realise I need to get more of a life.
Back when I was more slobbish, wasting so much energy on Facebook, my time somehow managed to always be filled. Doing exercise or going out a lot seemed to be a huge drain on my time.
Nowadays, especially given that I am finding I can’t work all the time, I’m finding I have a lot more time to spare, and not many things to fill that time with. So I’ve been thinking what I can do to fill that time.
It’s actually really great to have so much more time, by the way. So many possibilities. But I do need to work out what to do with that time; build new structures in my life. The time doesn’t fill itself.
Right now I’m thinking I might finally pick up an exercise habit again. Well, I’ve been saying I would for years, so who knows if I really will? But I think I could this time, with this extra energy I have. I also think that it would help me discharge stress which would in turn allow me to work more.
I’d also like to get out more and see more friends. And I’ve been thinking I’d pick up a video game or two. I haven’t played video games really in years, since I never felt like I had the time for them. (Ironic, I know, seeing as I was peeing that time away on Facebook, but truly, in effect, I didn’t feel like I had the time). There are a few very promising titles that I’ve been telling myself for a very long time that I would play “sometime”, so perhaps now is that time.
Well, all this productivity stuff is still all in evolution, of course. Who knows where I’ll be in a month, two months, a year? But that’s why it’s exciting.
I am so happy I followed this instinct to Unjobbing, even when I had no real explanation for it, even when I had no name for it or external assurance that it would work. I just knew, with such certainty, that I didn’t need to boss myself about. And so it was.
The important thing here was the process. Some people are lazy forever, because they don’t really embrace their laziness and find the true message of freedom behind that. When you embrace the process, and are ready to break down your internal structures and find what lies behind that, you go good places. That’s my experience.
PS: Some of you are probably wondering why I’m writing on my rest day. I guess I have two answers to that: 1. productivity can be addictive, and 2. actually, most of all I felt like writing this, because I really love expressing myself. I pretty much have an internal need to. I actually decided to write this article because I started expressing myself on Facebook – which I could access because it was my official “day off” – and I thought, “Screw that, if I’m going to write a novel on Facebook I might as well write it on my blog where it will matter more to people”.
Ironic? Yes. But the key thing is it feels good to be writing right now. And that’s what Unjobbing is all about.