Each night before I head to bed, I spend time thinking of a list of things I need to accomplish the next day. My lists almost always have the same structure: wakeup, eat breakfast, clean or organize something, go to work, eat dinner, do homework, do something else productive, go to bed. If I wakeup late, I feel as though I have failed for the day, and if I turn down the task of cleaning for something like hanging out with friends or reading I feel like I've wasted a good opportunity for getting things done.
Why is that my mindset? Why do I get hung up on the idea of needing to get things done?
Here's the answer: Society has trained us to think that our life-significance is measured by the things we accomplish during it, and this mindset is keeping us from living lives that keep our individual selves content.
The mindset of needing to constantly be productive makes it seem as though we have something to prove. Who decides what constitutes 'productivity'? Doing things like putting in extra hours at your job, getting your homework done ahead of time and meal-prepping always seem like tasks that we get congratulated for. But why is it that people question when someone takes time out of their day to relax, read, or do a face mask?
I know that it is hard to focus on doing things that make you happy especially when you might have a ton of responsibilities. I guess what I'm saying is that it's important to start thinking about the little tasks that make us happy as priorities too. They shouldn't always have to be secondary.
If you're like me, prioritizing yourself might seem impossible. Even when I'm relaxing I tend to start thinking about all of the other things I need to do throughout the day. It's hard to do, but I think it's really important to implement doing things that truly make you happy in your day. It doesn't have to be something that takes hours, it can be something as small as reading a single chapter from a book, or watching a YouTube video.
A good way to start making these things seem just as important if you can't convince yourself to do so yet is to actually add them to your to-do list. I'm still at this stage myself, and I still fall into the bad habit of adding the 'happy' tasks at the very end of the list. I don't recommend this.
Instead, try adding them throughout your day in between other tasks. This way, maybe doing the things that make you happy will come more naturally rather than seeming like something you've "earned".
We shouldn't have to feel guilty about wanting to do activities that are just for ourselves. Despite what society tells us, our lives matter whether or not we are constantly being productive. We deserve to live lives that leave us satisfied and content.