Books or resources for decoupling self-worth & productivity
May 18, 2020 2:22 AM   Subscribe

What are some books, podcasts, or other resources that explore the importance of slowing down, rest as resistance, the benefits of laziness, or general critiques of the culture of The Grind?

I feel an urgency to make the most out of this "down time" caused by the pandemic, which is resulting in me making goals that I know are over-ambitious, given the general climate of anxiety we're inhabiting at the moment. Oh, an unprecedented global emergency, you say? Sounds like a perfect excuse to perfect my accordion playing, start a podcast, write a novel, clean my house from top to bottom, read the thousands of books on my to-read list, learn a new language, etc... The list in my head is absurdly long. I have ADHD & PTSD too, which means my executive functioning & task initiation have been a challenge my whole life, before any of this-- This is just compounding the problem.

I KNOW I'm not the only one struggling with this. So I'm putting on a facilitated discussion/workshop for the neurodiversity club that I started... The title of the event is: "Fuck Productivity: Unlearning Internalized Capitalism"

Anyways, here's a good example of the kind of perspective I'm talking about: The Nap Ministry. What else should I be reading, to come up with talking points & discussion questions?
posted by mingo_clambake to Human Relations (16 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In Praise of Idleness, Bertrand Russell.
posted by matthewr at 2:31 AM on May 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Stevenson's Apology for Idlers
posted by crocomancer at 2:44 AM on May 18, 2020

The Idler?
posted by caoimhe at 3:43 AM on May 18, 2020

Best answer: I have not read it, but the title seems promising: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:46 AM on May 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You'd probably like Feminist Survival Project Podcast episode #10 Rest is the Revolution.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:47 AM on May 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

I follow a bunch of anarchists & IWW-related accounts on Twitter, and get a lot of this kind of stuff from there.
posted by rd45 at 5:49 AM on May 18, 2020

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. The author also did a Ted Talk.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:11 AM on May 18, 2020

Best answer: Burnout reinforces ideas such as the importance of sleep, true self care, and tuning into one's own needs and tuning out social expectations. Geared towards the female-identifying population but there are good nuggets of generally applicable advice.

+1 for How to Do Nothing.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 6:38 AM on May 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Anne Helen Peterson's newsletters have been touching on this theme recently, particularly this one.
posted by anderjen at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2020

@TheNapMinistry on Twitter: "We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance & reparations. We install nap experiences."
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

This recent Captain Awkward column seems apt: Pandemic! Productivity! Life! Hacks! (from a deeply unproductive & freaked out person)
My inbox has at least 40 questions with the theme “Dear Captain Awkward, how do I stay productive right now?” stacking up in it right now.

Maybe…you don’t?
posted by Lexica at 10:37 AM on May 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi, kindred spirit! Sounds like a great discussion/workshop topic. It's not easy to unlearn internalized capitalism. I love The Nap Ministry!

I wrote some personal essays for my former project The Anticareerist: Toward a World Beyond Earning a Living that you might find useful. My blog (formerly known as Rethinking the Job Culture and and newsletter are now offline, and my book manuscript remains unfinished, but some of my work is preserved at

On Doing Nothing: ‘Laziness’ and the Inner Work of Unjobbing and Dejobbing

Note to Self: When You Fear You're Not 'Productive' Enough

I also compiled a page of quotes & memes for inspiration.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
posted by velvet winter at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

You may enjoy New Escapologist and the book Escape Everything.

Also Lin Yutang The Importance of Living has a lot to say on this (if you can deal with 1930s attitudes).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:53 PM on May 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

One recent book on this subject is Sleeping Bees: Why Doing Nothing Matters, by Spike Gillespie and Steve Eckelman. (Full disclosure: Spike is a friendly acquaintance of mine and a long-time fixture of the Austin literary scene.)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 9:09 PM on May 19, 2020

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