Hiya Sweet Friend,
Please be unproductive. Ha! Has anyone ever said that to you? I certainly haven’t received that luxurious request. Quite the opposite in fact. Google “how to be productive” and you’ll get over 126 million results! Makes sense. We all want to get more done because we think it will help us be successful, make an impact, have more freedom and ultimately relax. I’m all for being driven as long as it doesn’t drive us into the ground. But here’s the productivity catch: we rarely metabolize our current list before adding more tasks. Because we create more than we can process, we’re left wishing we had another hour, day, week, month, year… life.
This unhealthy productivity cycle can lead to constant ups and downs. One day you get a lot done and feel great about yourself. The next day your list barely budges and you feel sucky. Well, maybe you’re not sucky at all. Maybe it’s your list that blows. For example, if you have 3 things to do and you manage to accomplish them all, you feel awesome and do a happy dance. Yet if you have 15 things and only get those same 3 done, you feel like a bum who can barely make a dent. Hmmm, there’s obviously something wrong with this picture.
So let’s take a step back and look at productivity from a different angle. In truth, it’s meant to simplify our lives, so let’s stop overcomplicating it. Today I want to share 5 insights that have helped me have more fun and get the right things done. While I’m no expert, I spend a lot of time focusing on work/life balance practices. My hope is that this topic will spark a conversation that we can all benefit from. Let’s dig in!
Less but better
In our quest for productivity we often over schedule ourselves. As I mentioned above, it’s all relative to how much is on your list. Forcing constant accomplishment is like expecting yourself to be an assembly line. That’s not you. That’s certainly not me.
In Greg Mckeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less he talks about doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution. This book changed my life and I continually refer back to it. In fact, the other day one of my team members was struggling under the weight of all my new shiny ideas. Rather than force her to do more, be more, I realized that I wasn’t walking my talk when it came to my expectations of others. I dusted off Greg’s book, read 2 chapters and immediately made a plan to cut back the load by 50%. Whoa, that’s a lot! Yes it was, but most of the shiny stuff on that list could either wait or go. And in truth, none of it lead to revenue.
As Greg says, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done [either]. It’s about getting only the right things done and challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.” BOOYAH!
Tidy up your to-do’s
My husband always jokes that our house looks like one big bulletin board. I’ll put a Post-it note on anything that doesn’t move. Scratch that, I put Post-it notes on my dogs too. Hey, some working moms have baby sitters, this working mom has a pet sitter. Lola loves play dates, Buddy goes to hydrotherapy multiple times per week and I often need help getting it all done. So when our pet sitter pulls up and they hop (or wheel) to the car, chances are there’s a note attached to a collar. Ex. “I just had a snack and pooped and am all set till dinner time.”
Anyway, lately I’ve felt the need to pull back on the Post-its (moleskins, scrap paper and receipts I write who-knows-what on!). So I started to use an online program called Trello. I love it! While our company uses Basecamp for project management, Trello is perfect for my needs. When I need to get shizzle done it’s important to be organized. Otherwise I’ll flounder or worse, get paralyzed because I’ve given myself too much to tackle all at once. The less but better plan keeps my Trello board edited, doable and effective. Plus, now I can see more of my fabulous wallpaper and Brian doesn’t wake up with Post-its on his face.
Allow yourself to relax
As I mentioned, we’re humans not conveyor belts. Because we have this magical creative life force that runs through the veins of our being, we need space to ponder and doodle. There’s a reason why adult coloring books are all the rage right now—we’re all craving fun! It’s vitamin D for our souls and yet many of us are deficient.
My best ideas happen in the shower. Why? I’m allowing my brain and my body to relax. Relaxation stimulates productivity. Was Einstein being unproductive when he was daydreaming on a train ride? Nope. That day dreaming lead to E=mc2, which ultimately changed the world we know today.
So the next time you feel stuck or stagnant, instead of harassing yourself for not being productive enough, step away from the task and chillax. Case in point: this blog took me about 4 hours to write. At first it just wasn’t coming. I had the opener but I kept hitting a dead end—even though I had a solid outline. So I took my own advice, went swimming, watched a movie, slept well and tried again in the morning. Low and behold, the ideas flooded through and it only took me 45 minutes to finish! Allow yourself to relax.
Prioritize simple self-care
Sometimes we’re so busy that even remembering self-care can be a challenge. I get it. But you know as well as I do, when you throw yourself out with the bathwater it all goes to hell. Your ideas dry up. Your relationships suffer. You get sick and the pounds creep up or down. To avoid that hot mess, commit to supporting yourself through simple, effective practices.
1. Blend baby blend: Don’t have time for all the healthy hoopla? Pull out that blender and make a smoothie. Heck, when I don’t have it in me to be a super cook, it’s smoothies for dinner! If hubby wants more, well, he knows his way to the kitchen. For an outrageous array of delicious juice and smoothie recipes you can order my book Crazy Sexy Juice! Just sayin’.
2. Wind down earlier: I know what it’s like to try and cram in a bunch of tasks at the end of the day. The laundry won’t wash itself after all. However, the more amped up I get the harder it is for me to go to bed. If I don’t get 8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis my everything suffers, especially my health. Ween yourself off the late night putter (and addictive Netflix marathons), darling! Your body, brains and beauty will thank you.
3. Center yourself: How you start your day sets the tone for your overall success. Too much coffee, news and to-do’s flood my body with adrenaline and worry. 10 minutes of mindful meditation—game changer. Have you heard of the super popular app, Headspace? It’s incredible. Headspace creator Andy Puddicombe is the new mindfulness wonderkid. His work is redonkulously great and approachable. Love him.