Productivity Guilt

Two holidays in a row, I’ve gone back to work more tired than I left. No matter how productive I’ve been, I can’t shake the feeling that my level of productivity was just way too low.

It’s not like I haven’t enjoyed myself. March Break with the kids was excellent. We had some decent weather, one last snow, we got outside and did activities and made art and crafts and watched movies and played games and generally just had a great time.

But this break, in spite of the fact that not only did we enjoy ourselves and do a ton, in spite of the fact that I made several videos for the YouTube channel, I’m feeling listless.

I don’t feel like I did enough.

I don’t mean like I didn’t do enough with the kids. It’s not the usual sort of last-minute second-guess parenting guilt at the end of a holiday. We had a full, varied, and balanced March Break week and I feel good about the time we spent together.

No, this is creative guilt. I had a whole week off. Why wasn’t my 3D printer humming the whole time? Why didn’t I do a whole bunch of work on our PIGRRL Zero build? I have a bunch of 3D modeling and writing and painting and drawing and graphic design to do.

productivity guilt
There certainly wasn’t a whole lot of creative time this past week that looked like this.

Where did an entire week go? Where did my productivity go?

The ridiculous thing is that I know where it went. I know exactly where it went. It went into museum visits and sculpting and skiing and sledding and skating and library visits and reading stories and and and and and. It went into a week that was so packed with smiles that Friday had to basically be a rest day, and even that was full.

Ever been skating with a unicorn? It’s pretty great.

It went into being a good dad, I think. At least, I hope so. That was the goal.

It’s hard to be a productive creative type and be an involved, engaged parent and partner at the same time. I don’t always make the balance work. There are times I intend to go down to the shop for fifteen minutes and the kids don’t see me for forty-five. There are definitely nights when I don’t get to bed as early as I want to. There are projects that don’t get seen to for days because I’m too busy with household duties. And there are holidays, like these, where I want to spend as much quality time as possible with the kids but I also also want to work on an endless number of creative projects. And as much as I feel like I need the creative stuff to keep my equilibrium, my kids will always win that tug-of-war.

And so now I’m ten hours from hitting the road to go back to work after a week away, and I feel like I haven’t done anything, despite having done a ton.

I don’t know what the productivity equivalent of perfectionism is, but I’ve got it. No matter how much I do I never seem to have done enough.

If anyone else has figured out having kids and also having a brain that you can’t shut off, let me know how you find the balance.

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3 Thoughts to “Productivity Guilt”

  1. Oh I feel you. I’m creative and have 4 kids, which means I rarely get the time to create. But, like you, I bet those moments spending time with your kids outshines anything you could have built or worked on. Your kids are also a creative unending project.
    Love this post. Thank you for writing.

    1. trevor

      Hey man, thank you so much for commenting, and for throwing that bit of perspective into the mix. I love the idea of kids as our unending creative endeavour. It’s especially cool because they’re also our creative partners and little artists of their own creation, too. I smell another post. 🙂

      I hope you find some time to create just for you, with your group of 4. It’s important that we pursue them.

  2. […] (Creative Living Beyond Fear) doesn’t speak to me. (If anything, my problems are more about throwing myself into things with too-high expectations, taking years to get around to a project because I hadn’t found the correct form for it, […]

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