Social Productivity


In college, I would get back to my room well after midnight not realizing that my whole night had been taken away by a conversation with a friend. I would then decide it was time to be “productive”. The next morning, I would feel regret for the long conversation the evening before. As the semester progressed, I would feel the ping in my stomach that I should be in the library instead of engaging in another debate about who was going to win the Packers v. Bears game that coming Sunday (I went to college in Wisconsin).

I began to say no to the invitations and closed my door to be “productive”. It was awful. I realized that in order to be happy I needed to spend part of my day with others. Somedays it would need to be a heart-to-heart conversation with a sorority sister or a dance party with my residents or a trip to the lake with a random group of people. But the guilt was still there especially when rehashing the busyness of my week with classmates. One day I decided that spending time with others was being productive… productive to me being a whole, happy person.

I started to coin the term social productivity.

I used it to describe how I spent my time but also helping others not feel guilty. Humans are social creatures and placing social time on the to do list as often as we do our work time creates a greater sense of wholeness. Here are considerations for actualizing social productivity:

Define social productivity for yourself. Social productivity is how you define “social”. That is the most important part. Being socially productive is different for everyone. For me it was about building relationships with others and spending time in person, one-on-one time with others. But for you it might be a larger group setting or small group setting. It might also be different depending on the day. Take the time to define what social productivity means to you.

Build a habit. Put it in your phone or day planner. Or don’t and be spontaneous. Be honest with yourself and with others in articulating when you need your social time. But also be honest what you need out of your social time. Not everyone can be everything for you at all times. Find the individuals you can have the deep, heart-to-heart conversations with but also find the individuals who you can order late night pizza with or take a trip to Target with. Habits take practice and time. Don’t give up!

Embrace being Social. This is very important. Instead of framing being social as a waste of time, reframe social into another part of how you care for yourself.  Being social should be something that adds happiness to your life. Allow yourself to feel that joy and encourage others to do so as well. Not convinced?  Check out the Ted Talk “The Secret to living longer may be your social life” by Susan Pinker.–b


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