From Christopher Robin

What We’re Reading: Are you busy or are you productive?

Adrienne Gibbs
The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readNov 25, 2023

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Is your to-do list the equivalent of an endless scroll? Contemplating the systems behind that question is at the heart of a Medium post about the difference between looking busy and being productive. Writer Anangsha Alammyan delves into this provocative debate as we enter the last few weeks of the year. In part, Alammyan reminds us that lists can sometimes be a stalling tactic.

“I kept making goals, achieving them, reviewing progress, and setting new goals. But behind all this hustle, what was I trying to achieve?” she writes. “Completed to-do lists and exhausted journals don’t indicate productivity. They indicate you’ve been busy.”

Podcaster Christopher Robin’s recent approach to similar “must-do-things” anxieties is to meditate.

“Long before I started a meditation practice, someone told me to take a breath and check in with my body,” Robin writes. “I had no idea what that meant, but it was worth a shot.”

That these stories are appearing as high-stakes holidays approach is no coincidence. Stress is at an all-time high — especially for Americans who bring their (legitimate) worries to holiday dinner, writes science journalist Robert Roy Britt. Britt’s experts, similar to Alammyan, recommend taking a step back and reevaluating attendance at an event if illness or questionable table conversation is a concern.

But what would you recommend? Different cultures and societies handle the end of the year in different ways. How do you prep for a season of major celebrations? I’d love to read your advice, insights and learnings. Let’s go deep.

Thanks for reading — and for writing.

Adrienne Gibbs, Director of Content at Medium

P.S. Did you know you can give the gift of Medium membership to the reader in your life? There’s something here for everyone, and you can schedule the delivery of the gift on a date of your liking.

What We’re Reading

Why the World is Not Designed for Left-Handed People
Published by UX designer Elvis Hsiao in UX Collective

Despite advancements in awareness and inclusivity, left-handers still face numerous challenges in a world largely designed for right-handers. These challenges range from minor inconveniences to significant barriers that affect daily life, professional activities, and overall well-being.

Frutiger Aero: When the Future Looked Optimistic
Published by writer Mike Grindle in ILLUMINATION

But Frutiger Aero didn’t just exist within technological interfaces. It was also prevalent in advertising, packaging, car designs, toys, tech products themselves, multi-color lamps, stock images, and, as previously mentioned, logos. Arguably, certain brands of cleaning and hygiene products, such as shampoo bottles and air fresheners, still retain some aspects of the aesthetic to this day.

This week’s final word goes to Cornelia Kurtew, who writes of how she found family members in Bulgaria after the fall of the Berlin wall. She sent this story in response to a previous call for ancestral tales. It’s a two-part series (so far), but this piece illustrates the twists and turns — and stories that come — from finding your forebears.

“Shortly before my father passed, he made us a list with all our relatives, names, telephone numbers and addresses he could remember at that moment. I am sure we missed some of them. So all I had was names and old street names. One thing most all of my relatives had in common; they were doctors and engineers. Even to communist times, they were well off. Almost all of them own their house or apartment. Knowing that was a big plus even if some of them would have passed, I was hoping that their children or grandchildren would still live there…”

What did Kurtew find? Read her piece to learn more.

From Cornelia Kurtew’s post, “Finding my Family”

What have you been reading this week? Share the story link in the responses.

Inspired to write? Get started.

What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.

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Adrienne Gibbs
The Medium Blog

Director of Content @Medium. Award-winning Writer. Editor. Mother. Featured on Beyoncé's year in review film.