Redefining Productivity

Productivity is my jam.  I to-do list like a champ and love color-coding my life. It allowed me to survive my hectic first couple years of teaching, and enabled me to start thriving during my third year in the classroom. I set a goal to be planned out a week in advance this last year, and goodness checking off this goal on my to-do list every single week was nearly euphoric! That productivity high can become almost addictive, and I find that my self-worth can get dangerously tied to getting things done.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve filled my life to the brim. From joining every sports team, to joining (or leading) every club, combined with wanting to do it all perfectly, I’ve gotten used to equating productivity with success and self-worth.

I even have a tendency of turning relaxing experiences into unrealistic productivity loops. After a good morning of journaling, I feel the need to “journal every single morning for at least 15 minutes or else,” and before I know it my life-giving practice becomes an anxiety-producing obligation.

This trip, though, has challenged me to see productivity through a different lens. We planned this road trip to say farewell to the U.S., the beautiful landscape and people we love. I’ve been tempted to feel satisfied only if I’ve written multiple blog posts per week, read lots of TEFL books and articles, or completed all of our Peace Corps pre-training assignments. However, I’m trying to define a day’s worth by the quality of my interactions instead of checking items off a to-do list.

For a young, American girl the concept is a little foreign, but one I anticipate will serve me well as I prepare to leave the country and our driven, task-oriented, soul-sucking society.

Instead of writing a daily blog post this month, I spent time:

  • Camping in Eastern OR with the siblings
  • Late night chats with Joann and John Fisher outside of Boise, ID
  • Crashing a family reunion in MT (those Montanans sure know how to blow things up, and helped us enjoy our last Fourth of July in style)
  • Seeing Andrew’s good friend Allison and going with the flow of Steamboat Springs, CO in our 6 inner-tube floatlilla
  • Reconnecting with Graceland (and high school) friends David, Will, and Brandon in Denver, CO. It’s amazing that even after years of living apart that we can pick up right where we left off.
  • Late night snuggling with Jenny Jackson in Kansas City, MO
  • The amazing opportunity to staff IYF and Spectactular (international youth summer camps sponsored by the Community of Christ) at our alma mater in Lamoni, IA. The chance to work with youth, coach, play, and connect with people from around the world that we know and love was the perfect way to spend those two weeks in the heart of America.
  • Laying classes with Sophie, holding 1-week-old baby Lydia (congratulations Zach & Stephanie), and Oxley time in Independence, MO
  • Prepping for my Evangelist Blessing with Bill Morris
  • Hours of driving and conversation with my incredible partner

All of this brings us to Southern Illinois for quality family time. As we transition to living in Central America for the next 27 months, I hope I can remember back to this road trip lesson.  May we strive to shift our mindsets from productivity and to-do listing, to allowing interactions and depth of connection to define  self-worth.

summer roadtrippin


4 thoughts on “Redefining Productivity”

  1. Love this! And I love the Spec photo that accompanies it. So glad your road trip across America has been so wonderful. I loved being at Spec/IYF with you and Andrew, such a treat! You are wonderful leaders and the youth love you. It was hard, so hard, saying goodbye on Saturday, but we look forward to keeping up with you here and on Skype occasionally. Love you, Mamma

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