spring cleaning | productivity
What do you mean, clean up productivity? Isn’t cleaning everything else up going to improve my productivity?
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been diving headlong into Pooja Lakshmin’s book, Real Self-Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths Not Included).
(And no, I still haven’t resolved the self care/self-care question, so there’s still time to weigh in.)
Lakshmin writes that we generally fall into faux self care for one of three reasons:
And for each reason, she gives a brief description and asks some questions about our actions and thought patterns to see whether we lean toward one or more of them.
Wow, did the ones under “productivity” resonate with me!
As a client of mine is wont to comment when I (gently) press her for action, “Well, you’re a doer….”
Yes, I’m a doer. And I’m also an organizer and simplifier. I often think that, if I weren’t a health coach, I’d be a kick-@$$ professional organizer or virtual assistant. Unlike Lakshmin’s examples, though, I’m not prone to serially trying out productivity apps, time management tools, and hacks.
I really appreciate Lakshmin’s view on these apps/tools/hacks: they are a method (what she terms faux self care) rather than a principle (real self care). If that’s confusing, read on for a concrete example.
With my background in culinary arts and my mission to get people back in the kitchen cooking from scratch, I get a lot of questions about meal kits:
- Are they a good thing? (That depends.)
- Which one is the best? (That depends.)
- Does this count as home cooking from scratch? (Yes. And no.)
My version of the pros:
- Meal kit companies have become much more attuned to the need to keep their packaging to a minimum and make it as sustainable as possible.
- Meal kits now exist for every flavor of cook, from beginner to pro, keto to low-fat, carnivorous to plant-based, SOLE-food- to conventionally-focused.
- Meal kits have gotten a lot of people back in the kitchen, more or less cooking from scratch, and some of them really focus on whole, close-to-the-source ingredients.
And the cons (full disclosure: I have not experimented with meal kits, and these observations are based on what I’ve heard from those who have):
- I’m betting that meal kits still generate much more packaging waste than if we were to buy the ingredients at the grocery store or farm stand, and the fossil fuels involved in their delivery don’t have the advantage of economies of scale.
- Despite the ability to order in various quantities, the portions seem to range from nowhere near enough food for a family of four (especially if there are teenaged boys involved) to way too much food for two.
- They’re financially not within reach of many who could benefit from them.
an inside job
Lakshmin has helped me to articulate what it is I really don’t like about meal kits:
- They are the product of a system that keeps us looking outside ourselves for solutions.
- They keep us in what I call “the silver bullet mindset.” (There is one perfect tool out there that will make my life perfect—i.e., most productive. I just have to keep looking/buying until I find it.)
By looking outside ourselves for the. one. answer, we are turning our agency over to others. Someone else is deciding what you will be making for dinner. (If you think you’ve got a lot of choices with your meal kit service, you’re kidding yourself.)
And let’s be totally honest: usually you’re turning your agency over to others who are more interested in financial gain than in your health and wellness. If you don’t learn to meal plan and cook from scratch while using a meal kit service, you will eternally be hooked into buying again. And again. And again.
anti-capitalist self care
Yes, Lakshmin’s “burn down the capitalist system” approach warms my heart. How revolutionary is it to think that real self care and true wellness are, in a sense, FREE?!? (And therefore accessible to Every Body.)
It will cost you some time and energy to discover your deepest values. (Get off social media—you really do have time.)
You don’t need a meal kit to meal plan: what you need is a deep commitment to the value that you want to cook from scratch more often. (I’m not saying you need to have this value. Of course, I’d love it if you do! And it’s simply an example to illustrate Lakshmin’s point.)
You might need to YouTube some basic cooking skills and read up on how to meal plan. Then be sure to tweak the plan so it works for you. Yes, you’re going outside for information. And you’re adjusting it to be right for you, right now.
And you’ll need the tenacity to take tiny steps and make slow, steady progress toward that value of cooking from scratch more often.
Groceries? Divert some of that meal kit money to the grocery or farm stand. You’ve already got YouTube or you can access it for free at a public library. Meal planning strategies? Also widely available on the internet and in library books. Tenacity? Also free.
Join the Resistance. Stop buying methods and invest your time and energy in your principles.
make the connection
The methods we use to get healthy are (mostly) not problematic—as long as they move us toward aligning more firmly with our principles. Whether we’re talking meal planning or physical activity or better sleep, real self care (what I call SOUL care) is free.
Want to join the Resistance/Revolution? Sign up for a complimentary YOURstory session. Let’s talk about your values around wellness—and brainstorm the first few steps of your health journey.