Your self-directed employment assistant
If you’re like me, productivity is often on your mind. As people with disabilities, I think that many of us struggle with this concept and think of true productivity as inaccessible to us. I know that this is something that has certainly crossed my mind numerous times, particularly when I was beginning my professional career. I believed that my disability got in the way of accomplishing many of the tasks I needed to complete on a daily basis and that this lack of productivity would exclude me from the workforce. After all, disabled people spend extraordinary amounts of time on activities that are not even on the radar of people without disabilities. This includes additional activities that nondisabled people are not required to complete in their daily routines, such as respiratory treatments and physical therapy, as well as commonplace activities that are familiar to the nondisabled and yet take extra time to complete for those with disabilities, such as getting dressed, hygiene, grooming, eating etc.
All in all, this means that disabled people have far less time available to engage in activities that do not directly relate to their basic needs. With this in mind, the thought of being able to fit a traditional 9 to 5 career into one’s routine undoubtedly seems unrealistic to some. This often leads people with disabilities to two distinct mindsets: the first being that in order to keep up with nondisabled peers they must do twice as much work and the second being that they are inherently not going to be competitive with their peers so a career is out of reach. You may find that you have had each of these mindsets at one point or another in attempting to mitigate your career while having a disability. While it is certainly understandable for one to come to either of these conclusions, the fact is that they are both inherently wrong. You can have a career and a disability, and I think that the solution lies in doing less.
I recently heard of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and it peaked my interest. Needless to say, the concept of essentialism is the opposite of non-essentialism, which is the concept that when given the opportunity to do activity A or activity B, you will achieve the greatest success by choosing to do both. Essentialism finds this to be false, stating rather that an individual should focus their efforts on the activity that furthers their ultimate goal. For example, if you are at work and your employer gives you an assignment and your coworker asks you to assist them with an unrelated project, you should ask yourself if attempting to complete both activities will require you to sacrifice the quality of your work on each task. If this is the case, essentialism would tell you that you should ask yourself what your ultimate goal is, and only work on the task that furthers your ability to complete that goal.
In terms of disability, this means that you should be extra mindful of your goals and what is essential to achieve them and stop sweating what your peers are capable of or how you compare. This also means that it may be the case that completing tasks related to your disability should not be seen as an inconvenience to your goals, but rather a necessary step to your ultimate achievements. Therefore, the next time you find yourself stressed out about your disability wasting your time, try to focusing your efforts on doing the right work, not the most work.