Like many of the previous contributors before me, I feel pretty unqualified to write a post about productivity. The thing is, I want to be a lazy person. I like to sleep in; I like to sit on the couch and watch TV; I like to stare into space and daydream. A lot. Probably the same as you, I don’t get to do these things as often as I’d like.
So much has been said about productivity in the past 250+ days, I don’t have much to add about productivity itself. Instead, I’d like talk about three things that help me get to a productive place.
I’ll start with the punchline: before I can be productive, I need to feel balanced. In order to feel balanced, I need to feel healthy. And in order to feel healthy, I need to be disciplined. It’s mental, emotional and physical all intertwined.
BALANCE. *Mental and emotional steadiness.
I am a career shifter. Because I’m new to my work, I feel constantly behind. So, in addition to the regular day job hustle, I am involved with as many meetup groups as I can handle; I read as many UX articles as I can squeeze in; I listen to as many design podcasts as my ears and brain will allow. I bullet journal mostly to keep my work life straight, and I have at least three to-do lists going at once to keep my homelife straight. (AND now my eyes are always glued to Twitter so I can keep up with the craziness of the garbage fire we live in). I crave a semblance of balance. I’m sure most of this audience probably has a similar unending list. And, if you’re an introvert like me, you probably also feel a little overwhelmed and overstimulated by this paragraph. Let’s all take a collective deep breath.
There are a couple simple things I try to be consistent about in order to help achieve balance. I set boundaries for work, and I try to eat dinner with my husband every night. I work 8 to 10 hours most days, and when I’m done, I’m done. There are exceptions, of course. But mostly, I close my computer and walk out to go home and cook. (Or heat up leftovers, or enjoy something my husband made, or sometimes eat out!). Cooking is one of my favorite outlets, I call it my kitchen zen time. My husband and I gchat throughout the day so we’re not totally in the dark about each other's days, but it’s still really nice to have that in-person time to catch up and talk. Usually after dinner we watch a TV program, and then I go to bed. Sometimes (not enough times) I’ll ditch the television in favor of reading more UX stuff. I really believe it makes me better at my job when I keep these boundaries, leaving work at work. It allows me to come back to the office with fresh eyes.
HEALTH/WELLNESS: *The condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.
I’m a healthy person on paper. But I know I could do much more to improve on my healthy living habits. We all could, right? I’ve gotten into a healthy habit pretty recently which is this: I wake up early and exercise. I don’t leave the house, I just do my $15-a-month online workout, and it’s great! It’s true what they say about feeling more energetic. Who knew? With the added energy I feel more concentration power. With the added concentration power, I get more things done, more effectively throughout the day. It’s a total win. If I lose any weight or change my body shape that’ll be a wonderful bonus, but (maybe for the first time ever with a new exercise routine) that’s not my first priority. I just want to feel good and have more energy and that’s exactly what I’m accomplishing.
This new habit is something I’ve been thinking about for years, and I’m not sure what finally clicked to make it start happening, but I’m glad it did. All of a sudden I feel like a morning person, and I kind of like it. (It’s still new enough where that feels weird to say.)
Maybe the morning thing isn’t for you, but whatever time is right, try to fit even 10 minutes of stretching somewhere in your day. You’ll feel really good, and your brain will be in a better place to concentrate on the stuff you have to get through.
DISCIPLINE. *Orderly conduct.
“Orderly conduct.” It’s so rigid, right? But, in my opinion it’s ok to let your rules be flexible if you’re mostly doing it. I’m sure you’ve heard “perfect is the enemy of done.” For me, the same principle applies here. And in most cases if I’m bending the rules it’s probably to help myself feel more balanced or healthy. Sometimes, it’s because I just want to have fun. So, let’s take for instance the nightly dinners with my husband. If I go to a meetup, or socialize with a friend, there’s a good chance that dinnertime is out the window. That’s ok. We’ll have dinner the next night. Or, if I accidentally oversleep and don’t do my morning exercise, that’s ok! As long as I do it the next day. I’m mostly doing it. I wish I could impart something smarter or more magical here. If you have any tips on how to learn or teach discipline please pass them along.
Back to the punchline: before I can be productive, I need to feel balanced. In order to feel balanced, I need to feel healthy. And in order to feel healthy, I need to be disciplined. It’s mental, emotional and physical all intertwined.
*Definitions from www.merriam-webster.com