As I've dealt with some sort of cold, with a side order of soar throat, for the past five days, it's become more apparent to me how much I dislike “doing nothing”. In fact, I found myself disappointed I had Civic Holiday Monday off. For me, five days of rest and TV aren't as nice as one day of feeling productive.
While lying in bed feeling unproductive, I started to contemplate the nature of my desire to be productive. When I was younger, I was pretty lazy at times. I'm by no means perfect now, but I've improved in that area a lot. I think having laziness or minimalism pointed out to me, eventually motivated me to work much harder. I think somewhere along the line though, the motivation distorted into unhealthy territory. After a while, I connected productivity with my self-worth.
When your self-worth gets wrapped up in how many hours you spend on something, how much of a sweat you work up, or how quickly you complete projects, you end up being hard on yourself if those “units of productivity” decrease.
Its important to do something valuable with our time. The expression “time is money” isn't really true. We can earn more money, but we'll never get our time back. Once it's spent, it's gone. But if we obsess over whether or not we're maximizing our efforts, we'll easily miss the opportunity to enjoy ourselves during reasonably paced work. Time relaxing thoroughly is more productive, to recovery, than the spinning wheels of stressing out. This obsessing can wear on us and make us further unproductive.
Instead of measuring worth from productivity, we have to be mindful we place our self-worth in something constant. Productivity levels will change with the day, the task, the time available, our stress levels, as we age, or as our life circumstances change. If our output doesn't stay the same, it's not a very useful yard stick for our worth. For me personally, I'm choosing to derive my worth from my relationship with Jesus. What God's Word says about me, is unchanging, and a much better measuring post.
So my suggestion is to take necessary breaks, but don't cheat yourself by stealing time when you should be doing work. Everything has a time and place. Don't feel guilty if you have to rest, even if your circumstances require you to rest more than other people. You have value that goes beyond the bottom line of your to-do list. You have worth that surpasses everything you wish you could be doing. Work hard as is reasonable, but rest well too.