friends, i’m here to remind us:
it’s OK to be UNPRODUCTIVE!
it’s OK to do NOTHING!
it’s OK to take BREAKS!
this sentiment began on one of my IG deep dives, when a fitness account i follow @bdccarpenter (his content is seriously great) was talking about the acronym NEAT. it stands for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” and it’s basically the energy/caloric output we gain from doing everyday things. washing the dishes. walking up and down stairs. toting laundry back and forth. brushing our teeth. these may seem mundane, “unproductive” tasks, but the research shows that NEAT coupled with focused exercise, like a Pilates class, is so much better for our overall health than sitting at a desk all day and crushin’ it at the gym a coupla times a week.
the takeaway? be INEFFICIENT in your household daily life! some ideas:
- take each piece of laundry out of the dryer and walk them separately to be folded.
- park in the farthest spot from the grocery store.
- brush your teeth with a manual brush, with the opposite hand while balancing on one leg.
- walk up and down the stairs every time you pass them, just ‘cause.
- get on your hands and knees with your little one and bear walk in the grass with them.
this idea of the positive effects of INefficiency continued another morning when my word-of-the-day popped up:
“LOLLYGAG: ‘lollygag means to spend time doing things that are not useful.’”
“lollygag” was literally sent to me as a reminder to do things that aren’t considered useful! what is “useful” anyway? listen, when about three-quarters of your day is singing songs to help ton fils sleep, or sitting and listening to an Agatha Christie mystery on YouTube while you breastfeed, or letting your toddler wander and explore the studio while crocheting his Halloween costume, or schlep tiny undies to and from the laundry room, your idea of “productive” quickly changes. and FOR THE BETTER! i might add.
the takeaway here? what things do you actually ENJOY doing that may be considered “unproductive”? DO MORE OF THEM, ‘cause they are probably what bring you the most joy. and, really, life NEEDS more joy!
fun fact: did you know that another meaning of “lollygag” no longer in use is “to kiss and to cuddle”? this is yet another reminder that we are meant to be connected, and to be physically connected is a gift that needs to be given and received more often! plus, the endorphin release and relaxation that a long hug – like 20 seconds minimum – gives us is a real physiological boost. yes, i’m suggesting that you be extremely inefficient in your hugs and in using your sense of touch in general.
my day following around my toddling 13 month old in his walks and explorations inside and outside probably looks quite unproductive, but actually it contributes to my overall well-being outside of conventional structures and time-constraints. it ACTUALLY looks more like this:
- we wake up, eat and nurse. we’re NOURISHING our bodies.
- then we play. we’re ENCOURAGING GROWTH.
- Justin-Thilou naps on me as i walk around our little town. we’re CONNECTING ENERGETICALLY.
- oh – and all the while we’re practicing EC potty-ing, so lots of trips to la salle de bain. we’re LEARNING TO FEEL INTO OUR BODILY NEEDS.
FINAL FINAL THOUGHT
i realize i’m blessed. i’m supported by both my American and French families. i’m able to both work for myself and from home. i have a partner that has agreed to help with the household chores and watching notre fils. i’m able to spend the time with mon bébé. nonetheless – whatever your situation looks like, whether it looks like mine or not, there is NO DOUBT that you WILL benefit from being “inefficient” and increasing your NEAT output on a daily basis. because (as just discussed) that’s probably where the most moments of joy live too.
so…one more time:
take MORE time for yourself.
take MORE time to show your family and friends you love them.
take MORE time to relax and be still.
take MORE time to connect with the outdoors, trees, the ocean, animals.
it’s the NEATest, most efficient INefficient thing you can do for your bodymind health.