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I Want to be Prolific

By Jennie LaFortune

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I’ve never liked the expression “idle hands are the devil’s playground”.  It felt stained with judgment to me.  I remember hearing this as a young girl and picturing Puritans in aprons and bonnets working the fields. I, who loved long summer days roaming the streets with friends, or getting lost in a book or movie for hours could not possibly embrace this phrase with its layers and implications.  And then you grown up, go to college, start working and all you want is the free time to wander, have a schedule-less day and time time time.  But most of us want to be productive and purpose driven as well.  Prolific even. I don’t mean prolific in the Shakespearean I-wrote-154-sonnets-kind-of-way, but the I- am -fulfilling-my–desires-goals-and–needs (and of course needs of others)–while-still–maintaining-my- sanity-balance-and having–fun-kind–of-way.  Whew. Okay, so the latter may feel even more impossible.  The Latter-day prolific urge of women is nothing new, but is it too overwhelming and actually creating more inaction?

I hear the phrase “you’re so lucky” a lot in the summer.  And I am because I get summers off.  Sometimes I wonder if I’d trade a more relaxed 12 month schedule and no summers off for my intense 9 month routine. But my romantic obsession of sun and free idle time lure me. Time.  Me.  No kids.  No alarm clock dictating routine. But as my friends and I gather at the pool, or to hike, or simply shop around in the gosh darn middle of the day (this never ever happens nine months of the year), we say, where are our loud kids nipping at our heels? Where are our demanding summer schedules? When do we have to have dinner on the table? And we talk about how those women are the lucky ones. Then we talk about the women with both a traditional job schedule and the kid stuff at home and ask are they lucky? Unlucky? But then we stop talking about who is lucky, and carry on mastering the selfish angst of free time with a dash of restlessness and a lot of enjoyment. But the idea of purpose and productivity settles below the surface.

In a recent article, Joss Whedon discusses his success and how he is “prolific”. His steps of structure are something that resonated with me this summer. To be both free and balanced, but also purposed.  It helped me realize that being prolific implies creation. The more I read and study our doctrines and tie the truths of our gospel to the truths available all around us I realize creation is both abstract and necessary. In creating a prolific life, structure is also a vital ingredient leading to realized identity and fulfillment no matter one’s circumstance in life. We have been taught these principles. Layered in our culture, our church, and families, is the thrift and value of making do with less, making more from nothing, making something for those with nothing, and not being idle.  It’s admirable, awe-inspiring, and sometimes down right guilt ridden and exhausting.

I’m trying to embrace the season of my life.  To be structured and prolific. And if it takes too many busy school years, and too many lazy summers to take action and be balanced so be it.  Let the guilt go, try again, practice the art of saying yes to yourself and others, and the art of saying no as well. To remember that to every time there is a season and you can rest and not be idle, and work and be at peace. Both inseparably linked and yoked to create a calm creation in a purpose driven life. How is the question, and in this search comes the process, which may be the answer.

How do you balance your desire for relaxation with a to-do list?  Do you feel overwhelmed at times and then lazy?  How do you reconcile the two to find peace and purpose? Do you have specific strategies you apply to your day to day life?

About Jennie LaFortune

(Prose Board) is from Salt Lake. Figuring life out one book, beach, road trip, museum, and front porch conversation at a time. Perpetually on the search for the best dark chocolate, finest pen, and greenest field. When she's not teaching high school, she loves to spend time with friends and family, the shore of any ocean, holding her friends' babies, or taking long neighborhood walks.

5 thoughts on “I Want to be Prolific”

  1. These are some great ideas to think about Jennie. I've noticed that if my life is too full, I often find myself frozen and doing things to avoid taking any action at all. Instead of conquering my to-do list I will end up idly scrolling through Facebook or shopping for shoes online. Interestingly, the same thing happens when I don't have enough to do and have no obligations. In those moments if I force myself to just get one thing done, then I can usually get momentum going to get more things done. For me, creativity and energy definitely come more readily within structure and scheduled time.

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  2. This is so good! I am constantly torn between my desire to be prolific and my inability to do it. I must give it more thought and find a way to be at peace with my tendency to procrastinate with my urge to create.

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  3. I love the Joss Whedon link. I'm like Jessie–too much or too little in my schedule, and I get nothing done. I have kids and a part-time job and summers can sometimes seem *more* busy. I think the key for me is deciding which of the things I want/need to do is most important for that day and focus on getting that done. It's easy to get overwhelmed, sometimes, since the list of things I want to do is usually much longer than the time I have available for my own projects. But accomplishing little things allows me to feel semi-prolific. At least for now.

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  4. Jessie-I totally agree that too much time can equate to "time suck" (my words not yours) activities.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one to struggle with this Kerri and I need to keep thinking about this too.

    And Rosalyn, I definitely agree that it's important to focus on the little things! And your schedule sounds intense. Brava ladies! 🙂

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  5. I love the questions, even though I don't have answers. Right now I'm really seeking for calmness amid being busy–it's easy for me to feel overwhelmed sometimes and want to escape. Thanks for the great post!

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