The Productivity Problem


Being back in the US makes me feel somewhat anxious about not working (or maybe just anxious). Why? I’m not totally sure. Here are some of the possibilities:

– The Culture of Productivity. Let’s face it, everywhere one goes here there is an underlying need to be productive (or just look productive).

– The people I know all work. Somehow in my head, I imagined coming back and hanging out with all manner of friend, family and acquaintance. But every time I (finally) manage to get a hold of said people they are very scheduled and busy with very many things and not really available at the drop of a hat, or tomorrow, or even next Tuesday.

– The familiar surroundings. It may also be that just by the mere fact of being back here in a familiar place that I am induced to repeat old patterns and fall back into the mode I was in before leaving. This is one of the trepidations I had in coming back.

– Money. This one is pretty obvious. Things cost way more here and my money will run out in a few months and I will have to do something. That said, I really don’t have to worry this very moment and was planning on not having to worry for a few months. But just the shock of spending in a single night what I would in a week on food is disconcerting.

– Owning things. I bought a computer last week. The whole reason for it was to enable my writing and give me some flexibility in creative endeavor. But owning this thing has also caused me to invest a lot of time in caring for it, configuring it, tinkering with it. I’m letting it become a mini obsession, and I think part of the reason is to feel more productive, doing something. Ironically, this makes me a little anxious and leaves me feeling a little less productive.

– Being sick. It is also a real possibility that the mere fact of having a bad cold the past few days has affected my state of mind, clouding my ability to be present.

Before coming back here, I had resolved to give myself a couple of months to relax, get reacquainted, and figure out what to do near the end of the year, with no preconceptions. That could mean travel or work in any number of places (San Francisco, London, Madrid, HK, Sydney..take your pick). That could mean many types of work (writing, technology, design, etc) in many situations (self, non-profit, start-up, etc).

I need to relax and get back to my Buddhist lessons. Perhaps I’ll go to a drop-in meditation at the Zen Center tomorrow.