There’s this belief going round that productivity is something you have to hack yourself into, and once you get it right, you’ll be able to get shit done forever more.
It’s just a matter of being disciplined, working hard and finding the right productivity system. Right?
Why? Because you’re human and us humans, we are cyclical creatures.
Simply put: You can’t be super motivated and über productive all of the time. It is natural to have a period of flow where you have lots of energy and get stuff done, followed by a period of ebb when you rest and integrate and take things slow.
Ebb & Flow. Productivity is like a wave
Think of it like this:
If your life is the ocean and you’re the surfer, there will be times when you’re riding the top of a wave, and times when that wave fizzles out and you end up in the water for a while.
This is what flow is like: When you’re on top of the wave you feel on top of the world.
You think to yourself: This is great. I’m finally showing up the way I want to, cape and all. If I keep moving at this speed, things are gonna happen real fast.
It’s easy to believe that this is how life is supposed to be, that you have finally unlocked the secret juice to never ending productivity and happiness.
But eventually, the wave is going to break and slow down.
Ebb is a time of rest and integration. It simply means that you need to take things slower and maybe focus not so much on productivity, but on doing things to help you feel good and recharge.
Sometimes ebb can feel like a dark time (think simmering in self-doubt watching netflix all day). But ebb doesn’t automatically have to be a time where all the heavy stuff comes out. Especially when we simply see it for what it is: A time to slow down and take care of ourselves, that will surely be followed by a productive period of flow again.
Since most of us love being on top of the wave and hate being down we try all kinds of things to make sure that we stay on top of the wave longer. Or we close our eyes and pretend that there is no wave, and that we can have the same levels of productivity and happiness all day every day.
What most of us don’t realize is that this is natural. Our productivity is cyclical. And no getting-things-done system or pomodoro technique will change that.
When we understand that we can’t be turned on and dialed up all the time it’s like a big sigh of relief.
Aah, I don’t have to be superwoman every day.
When your enthusiasm and productivity fizzle out welcome this time of ebb. Realize that it’s natural. And then ease up on your expectations of what you’re going get done. Make yourself a good cup of tea and maybe some cookies.
It’s all good.
Flow will come again.
Also published on Medium.