The estimated reading time for this post is 3 minutes.

I just listened to Episode 25: Productivity, and I liked the conversation about signals we give ourselves that it’s time to get shit done. Susan puts on eyebrows, lips, and hair, and her mom always put on lace up shoes.

I have to put on real clothes to get anything done. Pajamas are my cue to do nothing but watch tv and maybe knit, and definitely nap. I won’t leave the house in pajamas. It helps that I sleep naked, and therefore can put on real clothes right away. And by “real” clothes, I’m not talking business suits every day. Jeans and a shirt (with proper undergarments — but I can’t stand to go without a bra if I’m out of bed, even if I’m in pajamas) will do me. When I need to leave the house, I also make sure my hair’s not standing on end, even if I don’t put on any makeup.

Take today.

I have a lot of things on my to-do list, including packing supplies for an event next weekend, errands out of the house, writing this blog post, poking at some software. I knew I had a lot to do. So, I got up, I put on jeans, put on a shirt, took the shirt off and put it in the “donate” pile I had started on my bedroom chair, put on a different shirt, and then got started with my morning routine of feeding the cats and making breakfast. After breakfast, I didn’t plop on the couch for an hour like I wanted to (Great British Bake Off! and knitting!), but did my daily journaling. Then I turned to chores: sweep the kitchen, bag up that donate pile, throw some barely-worn shoes in the donate bag. I can’t let myself slide into inertia, or else I stay there.

Today it helped I had a doctor’s appointment that I knew wouldn’t take very long (third dose of my renewed hep A and B vaccination), so I carted along all my errand items: package to mail, library books to return, clothes to donate. At the very least, I knew all the important stuff would end up in my car and I could deal with it across the weekend if needed. (The only thing left in my car is the bag of clothes, because the donation place is on the opposite side of the highway from the library & post office and I couldn’t be bothered right then because I was hungry and wanted to get home.)

Once I fed myself at home, again, I could have done “just one episode” of GBBO, or curled up with the new Tana French that I picked up on a whim at the library. Instead, I dragged my ass back to the spare room and sat down to work. That’s another part — having the energy to make yourself do the work. And some days, just getting up and putting on pajamas, and eating three meals, and drinking enough water, and watching a full season of GBBO is as productive as one can be.

That’s ok too.

Our productivity ebbs and flows with our energy levels and our capacity to just deal with things. Low-productivity days happen, but they could only be low in terms of what happens outside of you. We have to take into consideration that a day spent in pajamas may be the self-care we need, and does something inside us, resting our brains or hearts and letting us just breathe for an hour, an afternoon, a day. That can be just as productive as running all your errands before 9 a.m.

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