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Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?

In: Just The Tip,

I wrote today’s tip earlier today about copywriting. It was pretty fucking good, actually. I might have even made a joke about ham.

But then I stalled.

I hated the tip.

The tip was useful, for sure. The tip was original, most definitely. And the tip was something that some people might have even printed out to remember later.

But the fact is? I’m not interested in later. 

How many pieces of advice do you have bookmarked somewhere for later? How many notes did you take so you could reference them later? How many books did you buy because you thought you’d read them later?

That tip would have been one more thing you added to the pile of later. 

So I left it in draft form. And I opened a new blog post. And I decided to write this instead.

Because I want to say something that’s going to matter now, not later.

And that something isn’t about copywriting. It isn’t about marketing. It isn’t about selling. And it isn’t even about business.

It’s about your life.

Because right now, that is what matters. Not because it’s 2014 or because of some other glossy optimistic horseshit. But because,

If you don’t get a life, you won’t have a business. (Or anything else. Not even stale curly fries.)

I saw a blog post this morning from a girl who was pretty pissed off about what I wrote yesterday.  She was defensive. Reactive. Trying hard to rationalize her behavior to the world. Apparently, she had recently committed one of my (incredibly opinionated) top “business crimes” for 2014: She put the ubiquitous “In an attempt to be productive…” disclaimer in her email signature line regarding which times of day she would be responding to emails, “as a courtesy to her clients.”

But I could hear the apology through her words. The words that so clearly said, “Please don’t be mad at me, client, I need to shower?” The words that said, “Take it easy on me, I’m doing the best that I can.” The words that so clearly tried to justify that she did, in fact, have a life. 

And this struck me. Over the head. Without a helmet.

Because usually when you start a business, you end up having to defend the fact that you have a business to everyone in your life. The late nights working. The non-stop emails. The Twitter culture that no one understands. And the fact that, no, I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day.

But more and more, I’m seeing the opposite:

People desperately feeling the need to defend the fact they have a life…to their business.

And it’s on that note that I’m going to get down on bended knee, canoodle your hand, look up at you with big fawnish doe eyes, AND THEN SLICE YOUR PANTS SO I CAN TATTOO THIS ON YOUR KNEE CAP:

Pleasepleaseplease remember that, despite every Pinterest board you’ve ever set your eyes on: Your life is not actually measured by the number of breaths you take, or (WAIT FOR IT) “by the moments that take your breath away.” (Because if that were really true then my life is measured by Jillian Michaels DVDs. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THAT WOMAN.)

But, rather, your life is measured by—surprise!—absolutely nothing at all. 

(And that incredibly optimistic message is the one I wanted to shower you with today.)

Look. Nobody’s grading you. Nobody’s keeping score. Nobody’s sitting behind the curtain, waiting to reveal you as some evil fraud. And if we’re being honest?  You’ve been so busy that you don’t even know what your life is measured by, either. 

All you’ve been thinking about lately are the things your business is measured by. Subscribers. Sales numbers. Profit margins. Stats.

But what about the number of inside jokes you have with your lover? Have you been measuring those? Or the number of times “Achy Breaky Heart” came on the radio and you belted out every single (godawful) word? How about the number of minutes you actually spent admiring the Christmas tree this year? Did you even spend any? Or the days when—shocker—you didn’t open the computer?

Start measuring those.

Because if I could give you any tip?

The last thing you want is for the actual people in your actual life—

To unsubscribe.

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96 thoughts on "Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?"

  1. Rebecca Hulse says:

    Brilliante! Just love it. People get SOOOO surprised that I could stick 5 gobsmakers in their mouths with the length of time their jaw gets some air when I tell them there is no purpose in life and the only reason you have a body is for fun.

    Thanks for the gorgeous reminder, Today because it is SUMMER in enzed (nah nah nah nahnahnah) I’m going to a picnic 🙂

    1. “The only reason you have a body is for fun.” HELL. YES.

  2. Andrea Manuszak says:

    I can’t beleive the amount of times I have wanted to yell at people “NO!!! I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day!”
    So I took today to see my Sister (who is only in town for a couple more days) and to stop off at my sister-in-laws house for longer than I planned (so the kids could play and we could talk) and most important of all to go get salmon at Albertsons (with coupon CHEAP!) Now my oldest offspring is almost done with her Harry Potter #2 book report so she can finally see the movie, so as a family we will eat dinner tonight while watching the movie. No phones, no computers, no interruptions (I hope).

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      Wait, WAIT.

      TWO Manuszaks in the same comment thread?! Is this too good to be true?!

      1. Karen J says:

        It’s true! It’s true! (and AllGood!!)
        I seem to remember from the dim mists of time, somewhere that Andrea is Jess’s Aunt… ? (Did I get that right??)

  3. This nearly brought me to tears! I started my business a few months ago and have been GO GO GO ever since. I can’t even relate to most articles that tell me to slow down because honestly, I don’t want to. I love my fast-paced life and seeing my business and myself grow. But something in your words struck a powerful chord for me and that is the fact that my business may mean something to me, but it is NOT the end all, be all of my life or anyone’s life. I’ve been getting a little better about branching out and doing more in my life with actual people, but this article really solidified my need for that. Tonight, I’m babysitting my nine-year-old sister and teaching her how to make sushi. Baby steps, I guess. 🙂

    1. I think you officially win best big sister of the year award, @TheNectarCollective:disqus. Sushi lessons?! How do I become related to you?

  4. Yes, I will take 7 of these spa memberships. Please and thank you.