What have you done or doing today? What did you achieve yesterday? Do you take on a can-do spirit when you’re challenged? Or are you huddled up in your comfy chair deeply immersed in a movie or mindlessly surfing Social Media to avoid the challenge?
I’ve read a ton of books on Productivity and goal-setting over the years and I’d love to share how there is a link between being productive and a state of happiness. It’s quite ironic talking about Productivity this morning, as I sit here, still in my dressing-gown and PJ’s at 10am on a Monday morning, battling the tail-end of a cold and hacking cough. I have already had to cancel a Shamanic Healing appointment because I need to heal myself first! That phrase, “You cannot pour from an empty cup”, is so true. I'm excused though, it's also my self-imposed "Lazy Day" so it's all good. Over 1500+ words are about to flow, but I don't know that yet - the beauty of time-travel when writing!
Life is also about balance, Yin and Yang, and I see WAY too much Yang in the world nowadays, some from people that really should know better, regularly burning themselves out in the pursuit of what they deem to be success or seeking approval from others.
In the past I would ‘probably’ have been at work by now in my previous corporate day job, before I decided a few year’s ago, to take Monday as a “Lazy Day”. That was a game-changer for me, to take a salary drop and give myself a long-weekend, every weekend – it was quite transformational and led to a lot more freedom, calm and inspiration in my life. I can highly recommend it if you can afford it, and maybe even if you can’t as the life benefits outweigh the monetary.
Not everyone can take a whole weekday off, but try a morning or afternoon, or one day at the weekend with no plans or activities scheduled – it really is quite freeing to free up that one day of the week, especially if you regularly host classes or workshops over the weekend, as I am likely to be doing over the next few months.
Since coming back from my travels, I had not respected this “Personal Sabbath” until I was reminded about it during our “Spark Of Creation” course at Lendrick Lodge, about how important it is to take a ‘circle day’ once a week. Similar to a ‘lazy day’ it’s where you basically draw a circle around yourself, avoid meeting people, especially energy vampires. Also, take time to just be creative, rest, nap and just create space, no meetings, no appointments and time to write, draw, meditate, journey or simply snooze.
Anyway, that covers the important of regular rest and no planning – this is a blog post about productivity and happiness and the crazy child has wandered off topic!
Here is the thing…
How you make your way through an average day in terms of your productivity may determine how pleased with life you are.
Consider these gems when deciding whether to do something productive or avoid it:
- Ponder your feelings. Reflect on your emotions after doing something productive versus wasting a few hours channel-surfing, binge-watching Netflix or just hanging out. Think about which situation makes you feel more positive and content.
- A question I often ask myself when considering almost any decision or choice is,
“Does this take me closer to freedom and toward my dreams, or further away from it?”
- How are your organizational skills? Someone who’s organized usually finds it easier to accomplish desired goals. If you’re organized, you know where to find the correct tool quickly to put it to use. Living a disorganized existence means much time is lost trying to locate things. Therefore, productivity is reduced.
- One thing I love to do each year is break my year down into quarters, having a big life goal for each quarter, listing all the weekly/monthly checkpoints I need to achieve this goal and then planning it out - I am great at sprint-planning in my life, which is ironic considering how little I cared for it in my previous Corporate life!
- Now, the trick here is to use it as a guide and not to be too rigid, as we often find new goals and dreams along the way. However, if we don’t have an idea of what we want to achieve or accomplish in the world, it’s like exploring, aimlessly, without a map and you’ll get lost. Now, you can find your way out, but you can also lose a lot of time and energy along the way, so have an idea of where you want to be and what you want to bring more of into your life, and what you need to let go off to create that space.
- Make lists if you want to get things done. A to-do list will quickly remind you of what you hope to complete. Plus, crossing items off that list brings positive feelings of satisfaction. There is also a fine balance between an achievable to-do list and one that is unrealistic, as you can feel disheartened if you overstretch yourself and don’t get everything done you would like to. I would also say it’s important to have a “To Don’t Do” list of all the things you know take you away from your productivity, Netflix, alcohol, social media surfing, whatever it might be - it's all avoidance.
- Complete tasks in the morning when you’re rested. What’s cool about getting started early is that you can see signs of your productivity by noon. You may be tired, but having lunch will revive you for the afternoon, plus you’ll feel accomplished. Now, I told myself I was never really been a “morning person”, but that was a story I was telling myself. I’ve trained myself to be more productive and get things done in the morning and it’s really been beneficial, have a read of the book, "The Perfect Day Formula", for some inspiration around this. It’s when our cortisol and energy levels are usually at their highest, so it’s good to take advantage of that, helped by a strong coffee or herbal tea.
- Establish a pattern of knocking out a couple of items on your to-do list in the morning. Getting up an hour or two earlier and going to bed an hour or two earlier, really can change your life.
- Have a schedule and follow it. If you want to be productive, schedule in time for work and rest.
- At the end of the day, you’ve met your productivity goals and still have some play time. Your confidence likely increases from your higher productivity level. Plus, your level of contentment has grown because you experienced some free time, too. That’s two reasons to be happy!
- Google Calendar and scheduling everything has really been a game-changer for me. Scheduling as much as you can, work, play, timeout, exercise, meeting friends, client appointments etc actually creates more freedom in your life, because all the other times there is no scheduled activity then you can take to reflect, meditate, sleep, have a hot bath, go for a massage – basically, self-care the shit out of yourself – this will help in all areas of your life.
- It’s vital to schedule as much as you can to create that freedom in your life. Time management is a bit of a fallacy, there are always the same number of hours in each day, it’s far better to focus on energy management and to bear that in mind when scheduling. Below is my own personal/work Google Calendar, looks busy but I know exactly what I need to be doing when and where I need to be at any given time.
- If you’re floundering to get something done, set up a time to do it.
- Let’s say you’ve wanted to clean out the garage or a room for ages, but you’ve consistently come up with excuses why you’ve not yet done it. Establish a day and time you’ll devote to garage/room-cleaning, like Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. Then just do it.
- Develop rituals and routines to help you separate down time from productive time. Maybe it’s something simple like putting on your watch when you want to get work done or setting a dedicated area to get work done. Or donning nicer clothing when you wish to be productive. Maybe you put on your slippers or jogging pants when you’re preparing to lounge around.
- Simple behaviors can serve as powerful reminders that it’s time to work or play.
- Pay close attention to how you speak to yourself. When you complete a task, do you say something to yourself like, “Good job” or “Wow, you completed that quickly” or “Way to go”? Or do you spoil it by saying things like, “What took you so long” or “It’s about time”?
- It’s helpful to take note of what you say to yourself during moments you choose to waste away. Perhaps you’re telling yourself, “I hate doing X” or “I’m avoiding doing Y as long as I can.” I used to hate washing up, with a vengeance, but now I turn it into a mindfulness and gratitude practice and just take my time with it – no dishwasher required
- What you say to yourself is powerful and sets the tone for how you’ll proceed. Avoid using negative phrasing to increase your productivity and happiness. Give yourself regular high-fives and positive affirmations and remember how powerful you are.
Your choice to get things done plays very much into your level of happiness. Concentrate on increasing task completion. You’ll be happy you did!
If you are struggling with finding more freedom in your life or are unsure of your goals and how to accomplish them, book in a FREE 30-Minute Lifestyle consultation.