Let me start by saying: Beyhive, don’t come at me. I’m all for motivational quotes, but one that has been trending for a while, is a bit problematic: We All Have The Same Hours In A Day As Beyoncé . My issue isn’t with Beyoncé, but with our unrealistic expectations with productivity as a society. We’re obsessed with productivity. In fact, we reward it. We reward hard work or working a lot. We reward long hours, working multiple jobs, or someone who is always willing to extend their hours in order to get the job done. Which isn’t the problem entirely, the issue is, we don’t equally reward taking a break or self-care. We don’t reward boundaries in the work place or having a day off from hustling. I grew up in the 90’s and I remember relaxing was seen as lazy and no one even knew the term “self-care”.
When I first saw the quote: We all have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé, I immediately thought about it, do I have the same hours as Beyoncé? I mean, yes, every day is 24 hours long. But are those hours the same for everyone? Beyoncé is accomplished, successful, and talented. She obviously had to work hard to get where she is and I’m sure she still has to put in hard work and a lot of hours to stay at the top. She also has assistants, managers, and a lot of help. Let’s not kid ourselves, 24 hours rarely looks the same for any two people let alone Beyoncé. I get it, the quote was meant to inspire people to use their 24 hours wisely. But it also pushes the idea that being productive trumps rest, self-care, and prioritizing your overall health. It’s basically like saying: Look at what these celebrities are accomplishing in a day and you can barely get dinner on the table after work.
I’m all for setting goals and crushing them, but not too long ago, I was struggling with anxiety that was a direct result of not knowing when to stop. I was always multitasking—watching tv, answering emails, scrolling through my Instagram feed. I was trying to make every aspect of my life productive and profitable. I was trying to emulate what I saw on social media. I wanted to do it all. But if I’m honest, focusing on only being productive was ruining my life. I had to set aside time to do the very thing I was afraid of—doing nothing. Productivity has been at the top of my list for as long as I can remember, I’m always on the go and always doing something. Now that I’m a mom, I rarely sit down or take a break. But I had to remind myself, actually no I don’t have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé.
I have a long list of things I want to do, need to do, and should probably do every day but I don’t always have a lot of help or resources. Things go wrong. I sometimes run out of time. I have to remind myself that being productive is important but it’s not always the most important thing. To be clear, I don’t use the fact that I don’t have the same hours in a day as a celebrity as an excuse to not get things done, but rather to give myself grace and to be patient with myself. There are some things that will take time and not happen overnight. Some days I won’t get everything on my list done and some days I won’t get much done at all. Not because I’m not doing enough, but because that’s the best that I can do. But I still try my best.
Recently, I started reading for pleasure again, not just for work. Which is something I stopped doing because I thought hobbies were not productive. It took a while for me to get to a place where I was willing to give up time to do things that helped me relax or just doing things simply because I enjoyed it. At first, I felt like I was wasting time. But reading helped me to be present and to focus on one task at a time. It really helped with my anxiety. It also made me appreciate taking a break because I realized how much I needed it.
There’s nothing wrong with being productive, working hard, and crushing your goals. In fact, I encourage you to be the best that you can be. We may not have all of the resources, assistance, and help as Beyoncé, but my hope is that we all take a look at what is important to us and give ourselves the time and space to accomplish our goals. Evaluate your 24 hours–your responsibilities, the resources you have, your goals and your needs. Build a plan that works for you even if it looks unproductive compared to the perfect celebrities and influencers we see on social media. For me, prioritizing exercise and reading have made a big difference in my life and has helped me be more productive and focused. Knowing what you can handle, which changes day by day, is so important. Knowing that you don’t need to accomplish all of your goals quickly and all at once is also vital.