About the Episode
It’s a sneaky thing, the productivity cycle. It always starts with our good intentions. We start a task, accomplish it, feel a win of sorts, move onto the next task, and the process repeats. Soon, we are caught up in the cycle to the point that when we do find ourselves in a space of rest, we physically, mentally, and emotionally can’t stop doing and just relax. We can’t turn off the need, maybe even the desire, to keep producing. It’s a vicious cycle and I recently found myself caught up in it.
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You’re listening to episode 33 of the Simply Sabbath podcast.
Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.
Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple restful family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it.
Today, I want to talk a little bit about the productivity cycle and how easily we can get sucked into it and how hard it can be to get out of it. We often find ourselves swept up in this vicious cycle. And sometimes it’s what keeps us from really fully entering into rest into Sabbath and just being in it. And so I wanted to talk a little bit about that.
I’m talking from firsthand experience just a week ago, just this past week. I, I found myself getting sucked into this cycle and not being able to get out of it very easily. And so I thought it would be good to share with you guys today. As many of you know, the last couple of weeks, I took a little bit of a Sabbath from creating new content for the podcast.
And while I wasn’t producing anything new for this podcast, I was still in a state of productivity. I run a company with my mom called Homeschool Directive. We help homeschooling parents of teenagers take on the high school years. And we were hosting a conference and a conference is a big thing.
There’s a lot. You have to do that to do list is very, very long and it was great. It was fun. It was really beneficial to the people who attended and it felt really good to create something that was of such benefit to those who participated in it.
So I had planned for two weeks of very high, intense productivity in this one particular area of my life. And I had protected our Sabbath times. I ate the Sabbath meals with my family. I spent a couple hours with them just relaxing each of those two weeks that I was really on. I did shorten my Sabbath time, but I still made sure to have some of those Sabbath moments, but I knew it was going, it was just short term. It was just for a moment. This project was going to happen. And in my head, things were just going to go back into our normal rhythms. Um, I even had planned for us to after the conference ended, it ended on on Thursday. I knew the Friday would be kind of a recovery day, but I had planned for us to kind of have an extended Sabbath where we would go away to visit a new town, to do a couple fun things there. We had planned for this and we planned, it was just going to be a weekend of rusting, seeing a new place, just having fun as a family and just, just being together as a family. I had planned for it.
And I will say that those two weeks went well, that weekend went well. What I didn’t plan for was how hard it would be for me to come off of that high intensity high productivity. Even if it was for a short time, I had a hard time coming back into our normal rhythms.
I felt anxious. Like I was forgetting something and this feeling followed me the entire week. I found myself getting short with the kids and constantly checking my phone. And it wasn’t until probably Thursday or Friday of this past week that I realized what was happening. That I realized that I was stuck in a productivity cycle and I couldn’t get myself out.
What had happened is I had gotten into this rhythm, the cycle of being productive, getting a win from that productivity, being productive, getting a win from that productivity. And because that was happening in this like concentrated, intense time, and there was a big payoff for the high, intense high productivity.
It was, it was like, I was just in the cycle of like, you’ve got to be productive, you’ve got to be doing something because you’re not producing anything therefore you’re not being successful and you’re not getting, you’re not seeing any kind of wins. So you must be doing something wrong.
And it was this like script that was playing in my head, unbeknownst to me. In my body, unbeknownst to me. I thought I had gone through the weekend and I had gotten enough rest to just flip back into my normal cycle of work and rest, work and rest. But instead I was in this moment of just every day, feeling very anxious. I just felt very on edge. I felt unsettled.
And, um, and like I said, it took me a little bit to realize what was going on. It took me a few days to realize after a couple of days of just feeling this unsettled, looking around, going, okay, I’m forgetting something aren’t I? I need to do something else. I need to be doing something else. Um, just not being okay with just being, not being okay resting in the moments that I normally rest. And it took me, it took me a bit to realize that that was what was happening. And so I share that to say it’s really easy to get caught up in those cycles and it is really hard to get out of them.
I have been practicing Sabbath for it’s either two and a half or three years at this point. I’m not quite sure, but I have been practicing this rhythm of 6 days of work, one day of rest for a while now. And even after a few years of practicing that rhythm week after week, it was so easy to fall out of that place of peace. That, that space of being okay with just being, being okay with not having to accomplish something, being okay with just not producing.
We did celebrate Sabbath in our typical manner this past weekend. And I found it refreshing, but if I found it, like I had to work at it, I had to really sit and be okay with sitting. I had to almost allow the space of no expectations to allow me to decompress a little bit from being on so much for those last few weeks.
In our space of Sabbath this last weekend, I found myself wanting to plan and, and dig into things and research things– I typically allow that for myself on Sabbath because it’s more play than it is work for me in my personality, but for this past Sabbath, I recognize that if I was to sit there and plan, it would be because I had this need to produce and this Sabbath really needed to be very strict about not producing. It needed to be about playing and just being. And so I purposely, when we talked through my husband and I, when we talked through what was our Sabbath gonna look like? We purposely picked activities for us to do together as a family and for me to do by myself that revolved around this idea of just simply enjoying the day, resting, and playing.
As Christian mothers who understand grace and forgiveness, I think sometimes we worry, we are being a little too legalistic with Sabbath. And so we may be constantly fighting against that. Um, this Sabbath, I felt like I needed to be a little bit more strict with it. I don’t view it as legalistic just simply because it has nothing to do with my salvation. I know that I know I’m not saved by the way that I, the way that I lean into Sabbath. And I know that I’m not better than, or worse than, depending on the way that I practice Sabbath that week. I just know that there is freedom in leaning into the structure, leaning into the restriction there’s actually freedom in that.
And so this Sabbath felt even more important to lean into the structure, to not allow myself to slip in ways to be productive, productive, that not allow myself to say I was resting, but really, if you were to dig deeper, you would know that it was just another way for me to be productive.
I had to really fight against that this weekend. I had to really resist the urge and it’s been a while. It’s been a, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had to do that on a Sabbath. And so I wanted to share that with you all this week, just to let you know that this fight this resistance to our, you know, to our culture of hurry and hustle that we live within, that we really do have to say no. That we really have to say, you do not get to cross this line with me. This is a sacred space, this Sabbath time and this striving or this productivity or the hustle or the hurry or whatever it, it is where you know that you are doing something of your own, your own striving, your own motivation to accomplish simply for the sake of accomplishing or simply for the sake of doing. You have to fight against it. You have to pull back and say, no, this is not okay. And sometimes that fight continues. And sometimes that resistance has to come back into play.
I want to stress, like I knew this was a short-term project and I knew it was going to be intense. I didn’t realize how easily I could slip back into that need to be productive, that desire to continue doing, doing, doing, and the uneasiness and the unsettleness how easily it came back into my whole being just from those few weeks.
So going forward, I now know, oh, Rachel, you’re going to have to approach the week after some big event, like the, some big, you know, cause those in business, you’re going to have these big projects in business, you do have these big moments. And I think going forward, I’m probably going to approach them a little bit differently. I think I did pretty good on the front end and in the middle of it, but not so much on the back end of it. And so now I see that and now I know I need time to decompress and I need to really be on guard and not allow that uneasy, unsettled, that desire for productivity, that desire to accomplish, to resist against that. To build a fence around my soul and my personality to really keep those things from taking up residence in my being.
So I do want to share a couple of tips with you. If you find that hurry and hustle and, you know, anxiety producing productivity is part of your every week, or if it’s maybe just there for a short term, short time, like it was for me, and now you’re having to resist against it, creeping back in and taking over again.
Um, either way, I just want to share a couple of tips with you.
The first tip I would have for you is one: be in prayer.
If you are currently in a weekly state of just go, go, go, go, go, be in prayer with the Lord and honestly ask him “where can I say, no?” You may not be able to say no to everything and nor should you, like, I am not advocating for you to pull out of everything all at once.
I have run ministries. I know what it’s like to have your volunteers just all up and sudden decide to leave you. And it’s hard. It’s hard on the ministry. Same thing is true. If you’re running an organization or if you’re in a business, right, you can’t just leave, but there are some things that you can say no to.
Maybe it is time for you to move out of some things. Maybe it is time for you to say no, to three sports that your kid is playing and only say yes to one. I can not tell you what those areas are that you need to say no to. That is something you have to prayerfully consider with the Lord.
If this is a short-term project, like I have experienced as a short-term thing that a season of life where it is just super busy. And now you find yourself maybe at the end of that season of life, but not sure how to transition back into a time of rest, be in prayer and ask the Lord to give you eyes, to see everything he’s brought you through, eyes of reflection. Being in a state of reflection mentally puts you into the fact that you are no longer in that state. You are no longer in the state of productivity. You are able to reflect because you are no longer there. And so when you allow God to show you that you’re no longer in that season, it helps you to transition out of it.
Second tip I would give you: communicate with your spouse, share these things with them, let them know when you feel unsettled. If you’re in a regular rhythm of hurried and busy-ness share of your spouse, that you are feeling that, that it is weighing on you and ask them their opinions on what you may really, maybe you could say no to.
I will say that if, you know, you go to your husband and you say, this is the situation, they might have a tendency to, not all men are like this, but they may try to fix it for you. And I, I have heard women say like, oh, you know what? You need to let them know that you don’t want them to fix it for you, you just want them to listen. And I am going to encourage you to let them try to fix it.
I know you just kind of were, you know, you probably were like, what now? I don’t want them to fix it! But please hear me out. Sometimes our husbands can see things better than we can. We have gotten so caught up in the everyday hurry and hustle of our lives as busy moms. And I am guilty of this too, that sometimes we don’t even realize the ways that we’re burdening ourselves, that maybe we don’t need to anymore. And our husbands who are not quite as caught up in the everyday managing as a household, taking care of the kids, doing all the things they might be able to say to you, is it really necessary that X happens or, Hey, I’ve noticed this happens, can we maybe do this instead to tighten things up a little bit or make things a little bit more efficient? Or maybe take that off your plate? Hey, I could maybe take this off your plate. That actually happened with us. My husband took the meal planning off of my plate the last few weeks. Um, cause it was a thing he could do.
Now, it has been a little bit of a transition for us because I have been doing the meal planning for a while now, but it is amazing how much that took off of me. Just him taking that one task. We’re working through the details of it, you know, working through the little bit of like, oh, this is how he meal plans…
Ladies. He forgot to meal plan, breakfast and lunch. The first day, first week he took it off my plate. I’m like, what’s for breakfast each day? And he’s like, I dunno, breakfast. So, you know, we’re working out the little kinks and that’s okay. But the point is that was his suggestion. It was not mine. Your husband may have solutions that you are not thinking of, let them try to fix it. They are part of your team. They may have really great insights.
If it is a short season of life, once again, let them try to fix it. They may offer some solutions to you that you just are not thinking because it might be just that hectic of a season. But make sure you’re communicating with them. Make sure that you’re saying to them, Hey, I know this is just the next couple of weeks. It’s going to be kind of crazy here. This is how I’m feeling about that. Do you have any thoughts about it? Are you feeling a certain way about it? Um, let’s, let’s have this dialogue. Let’s talk about these things.
The final tip, I probably give you is to continue to practice Sabbath, no matter how busy your season of life gets. Now that Sabbath practice might alter a little bit. I would actually encourage you not to let it alter, but if you have to let it alter a little bit with the new season of life you’re in, that is okay, there is room for what that is going to look like. At the heart of it though, is that week after week, you allow yourself time that is just about being, that is just about sitting with God and letting him speak to you about who you are, not the things that you’ve done or will do. Just who you are. Just being with the Lord, literally resting in him each week.
I think it’s really important to note that that no matter how busy the season of our lives get, there is always time for Sabbath. We have to fight for it though. We have to resist. We have to resist our own inner desires for productivity, our own inner demands for accomplishment, our own inner drive and desires, or expectations that we place on ourselves. And then we have to also resist society’s expectation, those outside of us, the demands that they put on us.
And so I would just encourage you no matter what season of life you’re in, if it is a weekly state of busy-ness that you find yourself in, or if it’s just a short period of time and, you know, it’s just a short period of time, continue to practice Sabbath in some way, whether a few hours or a full day. Do not forsake that part of just being with Jesus.
It is like an anchor in our culture that is so hurried, so full of hustle. And it is so anxiety producing to constantly think you have to perform, to think you have to produce, to think you have to accomplish, to think you have to get these things done because of the expectations you’re putting on yourself or society’s putting on you, regardless of where it’s coming from, it is unsettling and Sabbath allows us to settle, settle into the rest that God provides us.
I do think it is interesting that I am releasing this episode on what will be the one-year anniversary of my guided journal Rest & Reflect. Um, I, I still can’t believe it’s been a full year. It feels like just yesterday, I was with doing a launch party over zoom with, um, my launch team. And that guided journal really came out of a time of weekly reflection, where I just sat with Jesus and asked him to remind me who I was, who he made me to be. And I created the guided journal to help, to help you sit with Jesus week after week. It’s really meant to be done within the space of Sabbath. Um, a time of reflection within this space of Sabbath. It’s not, it’s not a guided journal to tell you how to practice Sabbath. It is a guided journal to help you engage in a time of reflection and a time of just being with the Lord.
And so if you find yourself really struggling to resist this urge to do things. Even when you stop and take a Sabbath, I would encourage you to buy the guided journal. I would encourage you to use it each week, carve out like an hour probably could even do it in a half an hour. I always did an hour. My husband, we would do our family dinner. We would do some time together, and then he would put the kids to bed and I would do my hour of reflection. And I actually just told him the other day. I’m like, I think I need to go back to that. I think especially now in this a little bit more, it’s a little bit more of a busy time in our lives and I think, I think I need that.
And so I would carve out an hour, sit there, ask myself some really pointed questions. Those are the questions I put into the guided journal for you. And I just worked through those questions. I just sat there and asked Jesus to give me eyes, to see myself, my identity, my purpose, my belonging through his eyes, because he ultimately was the one who created me.
So I would definitely encourage you to purchase the guided journal and use it as part of your Sabbath practice, where you just sit with the Lord and ask him to speak to you about your sense of identity, purpose, and belonging, and just remind you who you are outside of the things that you do.
And because it’s the one year anniversary of the rest of the reflect journal, I am offering signed copies. I have a limited quantity that are signed and they’ll be inscribed to you’ll find the form to that in the show notes below. Um, don’t, don’t go through Amazon because I can’t sign them before they go to you, if you go through Amazon. Um, so make sure to use the form that’s in the show notes.
They’re available for $10 and it’s signed, uh, and you’ll put in the form who you want to made out to, and Yeah so I just, I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate the one year anniversary of the journal and also provide you with something that you could use in your Sabbath practice that would help you to just be and not worry about accomplishing.
I just want to touch one more time on this idea of a productivity cycle, the cycle that you get yourself into, where, you know, with good intentions, you’re getting the things done that you need to get done. And there are, there are legitimate things that we need to do to move ourselves and our families forward, but you get yourself into the cycle of doing the thing, accomplishing that thing.
And then there’s some, a little bit of return, a little bit of a win from that. And you find yourself needing to do the next thing. And needing to do the next thing. You may even find your worth caught up in your to-do list and your accomplishments. You may even brag about how busy you are, because if you’re busy, there’s some importance there. If you’re busy, there’s some value. The world cannot keep going. If you don’t keep doing.
And when you find that moment of rest, when you have that moment of downtime, you cannot physically rest, you can not mentally rest, and you are constantly worried you’re gonna forget something. Or you might even have a desire to fill up that space with things to do because you don’t feel good unless you’re getting things done. If that is you, if you are caught up in that productivity cycle, I leave you with this question:
What can you do this week to resist it, either in a small way or in a large way, either way how can you take a step to resist that cycle? See the next time.
Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.rachelfahrenbach.com.
As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead the down, across from Him and just be with Him.
It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.
Ask yourself this question: What can I do this week to resist it, either in a small way or in a large way, either way how can I take a step to resist that cycle?
Want to practice Sabbath but don’t know where to start? Grab this free guide: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.