I believe we can be productive without paying the common price of stress, overwhelm and mean self-talk. Kind productivity habits help us do so.
When I first started my business I thought differently. I was convinced that discipline was the magic word, that if I could just be ‘more disciplined’ I would get everything done and move forward quickly.
I thought successful people rigorously scheduled their days and made use of every minute, dismissing any feelings of “I don’t want to do that” or “I’m tired”.
I thought to be effective I had to work like a perfect human robot.
And I tried to become a perfect productivity robot.
Only it left me feeling like I was never doing enough. A lot of good things disappeared from my life to make room for productivity.
I became a little bit of a workaholic and I suffered for it. Yes, I got things done, but it wasn’t worth the amount of time I put in. Most of all, it made me feel horrible and since the reason for my productivity hunt was to enable me to “build a life I love“, that was a particularly dire consequence.
After a while, I almost abandoned all of my goals, simply because I was exhausted. If living my dreams meant pushing myself every day I did not want them anymore.
What if we could marry ambition and kindness?
What kind productive habits look like
These days I still aim to be productive, but it feels much more human.
I schedule a lot of buffer time into my days and don’t set self-imposed deadlines (if I can resist it).
I have different projects and life areas that I want to “work on”, but I don’t beat myself up about using my time perfectly.
Instead, I check in with what needs to happen and what I feel like doing.
That’s my glamorous productivity system. And it works out quite well, actually.
Funny enough, I do get more done than productivity-robot-Iris. I’m doing more than I ever have before (not that that is the point) yet I feel more relaxed than I used to.
Each weekday I choose what makes sense to do. I work on it for as long as I feel energized or until something else needs to be done (like going to a class).
Sometimes there are external deadlines, of course, and I obviously have to sit down to work on things I don’t feel like working on. Still, this way of working makes me get stuff done on time feel good in the process.
When I notice myself getting tired I sit myself down to watch a movie, even if it’s in the middle of the day.
I have found that being proactive is way more effective in the long run: When I skip all self-care to work perfect eight-hour days I will start burning out sooner or later.
Giving myself some leeway during the day makes me happy and gives me energy. It also makes me feel like I am living my life and not just being a busy worker bee.
Do you believe that being productive looks like long hours and little time for fun? Is that really so? I mean, who gets to make the rules about how you do things in your life?
It’s you, actually. You can choose to do less, to focus or to adjust your pace.
It’s a practice, but one that has helped me a lot and my clients too.