Yesterday, I redeemed a gift certificate for a massage given to me by my mom for my birthday. Wasn’t that nice? It was nice. To clarify though, my birthday was in January. It is now April. So, in terms of honoring someone’s generosity, I could have been much nicer myself.
But, you know. It’s hard to fit these things in. My co-parenting responsibilities begin at 5pm and more or less cover the weekend. Freelancing, despite the assumptions of many, does not allow for frequent brunching or daytime errands or, sadly, massages. There’s a formula, you see, in the mind of a freelancer that is pretty simple: hours working = money made. Must workworkworkworkworkworkwork, right? Ideas and inspiration and productivity take focus and discipline. And that’s how our mortgage gets paid.
So imagine my surprise, when I finally begrudgingly made a 10am massage appointment on a Wednesday, and something odd happened: I was flooded — flooded, I tell you — with ideas and inspiration. While melting into bliss on that massage table I came up with the following things: a blog series (my blog has been dormant since February, you may have noticed), a new morning routine to boost my productivity, a story idea to pitch to a new publication, thoughts on how to approach the beginning of a novel (which is unlikely to materialize for years; they were just thoughts; ohmygodlayoffmewillyou), and, naturally, this idea for this blog post. Creatively, I’m almost sad to say, that was the largest plop of productivity my brain has produced in…uh…a long time.
To be clear, I have not made some sort of scientific breakthrough here. The fact that mental downtime is good for creativity and productivity has been proven again and again. So why do we have such a difficult time allowing ourselves to prove it out during our workdays? Why does it feel like a risk?
Okay, I’ll go ahead and answer that one. It feels like a risk because there’s no way to measure how productive our brains will be when we give them a break. Maybe they’ll come up with one great idea. Maybe they’ll come up with five. Maybe they’ll just enjoy the downtime and give us nothing in return. And that’s the risk. We might spend an hour getting a massage and all we may walk away with is, you know, a massage.
That’s obviously a joke, because massages are awesome, even if they are difficult to prioritize. This is why, instead, I usually write “ideas” as a line item on my to-do list and spend a half-hour browsing the internet before saying, “F#*& it. I should really be doing addressing those edit requests right now.” But given the fact that my massage yesterday resulted in writing this blog, the blog I’m about to write when I’m done with this one and the first pitch I’ve sent out to a new publication in probably a year, it sounds like its time to change my priorities. Now I just need 12-24 more massage gift certificates. Consider that hint dropped, family.