Haste, the illusion of being productive


Are you alive or are you asleep?

Haste. Is there any use for it? What use does it have to rush through something? Doesn’t it mean we are trying to avoid feeling and experiencing it?

“One more thing.” How often have you said that to yourself, trying to squeeze in some extra work, or trying to finish something quickly? Just let me quickly finish cleaning the kitchen before watching a movie. Let me quickly finish this one thing before leaving the office. Let me… On we go. What’s it worth to do things quickly? Does it give us more time?

I doubt it will. Why do I share this with you? Well, the other day I constantly felt a feeling of rush. The need to do more, to squeeze in some work in every possible spot I had. Let me give you a clear example. Today is Tuesday, every Tuesday night I spend the night playing video games with friends. It’s a weekly occurring thing. At about 8 o’clock I turn on my PlayStation and start whatever game we are about to play. Still feeling stressed. Still feeling rushed. Why? Because just before this I wanted to squeeze in about an hour of work.

I had already finished most of what I had to do, yet there was one thing left on my to-do list. Instead of just enjoying an hour of relaxing, watching some Netflix, meditating, learning, or whatever allowed me to slow down, to get into the zone of playing video games with friends, I chose to work. Not just work but trying to quickly do something to finish it before playing video games. There was a deadline. Only one hour to write an article, or come up with some new ideas for social media.

I sat down with my laptop, opened the writing software, and… Nothing came out. I was overwhelmed. Felt forced. Rushed. Stressed. Why? Because I knew I only had an hour. I wanted to rush through writing. “What absurdity is this?” I wondered to myself. I love writing, why would I ever degrade this experience by rushing through it? That would completely eradicate the point of me writing. I want to write because I enjoy it, but the haste, the feeling of needing to finish quickly is destroying that experience.

This is exactly why I ended up not writing a single word. This isn’t the only occurrence. This happens daily. I believed that productivity meant rushing through something. That it involved a sense of haste.

Want to feel alive? Stop the rush

But nothing was more true. Haste. It’s become such a big thing in today’s world, I believe. It not only involves finishing things quickly but also quickly pulling on your shoes and jacket and speeding just to be in time for an appointment. And I wonder have you enjoyed the drive? Have you enjoyed your life in such a moment?

I have never experienced a sense of joy during these moments of speeding through life. I believe that we haste through life because it makes us feel like we did something meaningful. That we have won some time back by doing something quickly. This is the biggest illusion of them all. We have never saved any time. Time remained the same. You still have the same time, the only thing you lost is the experience of the thing you felt so eager to rush through.

Haste, I figured is a way to feel like we are productive, which means we have used our time wisely and valuable. I disagree. I thought of it the same way at first. Until today. Haste. Rushing. Doing things quickly is never bringing your life any value. Why? Because life is meant to be experienced, not meant to be rushed through just to finish something.

You probably have heard about the quote “it’s about the journey, not the result” well this doesn’t just apply to achieving large goals. It’s involved in every single action you take. I asked myself, do I do this because I want to enjoy it? Because I want to feel alive? Or do I do it to quickly finish it, so that I feel a sense of accomplishment? The second thing was true for me. I was trying to rush through writing just to achieve a blank to-do list. But the goal was never to finish the to-do list. The goal is to experience each task on your to-do list. Otherwise, life would mean ticking off goal after goal, instead of enjoying each individual action.

The goal was never to finish the to-do list. The goal is to experience each individual task on your to-do list. Otherwise, life would mean ticking of goal after goal, instead of enjoying each individual action.

If you want to feel alive, stop the rush. Haste never brings anything of value to your life. It doesn’t win back time, it neither saves you time. All it does is take away the experience of truly feeling alive.

I don’t like doing it

To feel alive means to do things deliberately. Be truly present. Instead of rushing through your assignment strive to feel whatever is going on within you. If you have to write an essay don’t do it to just tick it off your to-do list, do it deliberately to feel alive during it. I have objected to this too. I would have said just like you are probably saying to yourself right now “I don’t like doing it.” That’s a completely natural response. Here is the thing.

It’s not the thing you are doing that you don’t like. It is your resistance towards the process of doing it that brings this feeling of dislike.

If you don’t want to learn for a test it is not that you don’t like the learning part, it is that you want to do something else with your time. Therefore you are resisting the experience of learning. Trying to quickly make your way through. Which will result in more time spent learning with less saved information to your brain. You could be present and read about a page of your textbook and remember the essential parts, and it would just take you 5 minutes of deliberate focus. But instead, we say to ourselves I don’t want to learn, I want to play some video games, or I want to watch some Netflix. Therefore we pick up our textbook with a fresh feeling of resistance. We quickly read 10 pages, ending up with 30 minutes of learning, having learned none of the information on the pages. Often, when you then start to do something you do like you feel a sense of shame, regret or fear that you don’t remember most of the pages you read.

That’s the unrecognized consequence of haste. It doesn’t give you more time, it resists truly accomplishing that which you want to achieve. The deeper purpose of the task. For learning, this is remembering the information. For working at your side hustle this is enjoying the work even though you feel like you aren’t living up to your full potential.

Haste is the biggest illusion we create for ourselves. It often even goes under the name of being productive. But ask yourself this, like I now do whenever I feel like I have to finish something quickly. “If I do this thing deliberately now, how will I feel afterward? Will I feel accomplished no matter the outcome?” If the answer to that question is yes I start working on it. Not paying attention to the feeling that I have to do it as quickly as possible. Funny enough I then found myself writing 1000 words in only 30 minutes instead of me writing the same amount in an hour, struggling over finding the right words.

The takeaway

I feel like haste has become normalized in a world that goes quicker and quicker every minute. Yet that would only be an excuse to not look within. It would have meant I would never see that, I created this feeling in the first place. Thus I looked within and found that haste is taking away from your experience of life. It isn’t productive to-do more with less time. It is productive to feel totally and utterly involved in each task you do. Therefore the goal isn’t to finish a task but to indulge yourself in it. The goal isn’t to finish life quickly, the goal of life is to experience it fully. It is being able to say Today I Lived at the end of your day, without thinking to yourself “What did I do today?” Having forgotten all the things you so eagerly rushed through. Or “I have to do … tomorrow” (Fill in the dots yourself) feeling anxious about the next day not enjoying the bed that comforts us each night.

Enjoy life. Make the most of it. Be deliberate and in harmony. It’s then that you will say at the end of your day Today I Lived and made most of it.

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