Do you have a complicated relationship with productivity? Most of us are aware that acknowledging the importance of productivity can make a difference in one’s professional success and personal satisfaction. Productivity means progress or creating progress. This may be what causes you to have feelings of guilt, shame or burden, since you feel unproductive. But, it’s important to remember to take into account our human experience. When I hear my coaching clients feel badly about unfinished tasks, I am compelled to share that we are ‘human beings’ wanting meaningful experiences instead of focusing on ‘human doing’ chasing the dopamine hit we get by checking off our list. Resting and doing nothing can be an accomplishment as well. There’s a sweet spot of balance. How do we find this sweet spot? By thinking about productivity as a long game. Things to keep in mind when it comes to productivity:
Define your overall goal and productivity methods
Commit to a routine
Prioritize your list and execute
Have an accountability partner
Audit, reflect, celebrate, and learn
First, you need to clearly define what your goal is. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? Second, what does productivity mean for you? For most people, productivity is checking items off a to-do list. Productivity can also be a feeling. It can be defined for some as the ability to completely focus, being able to finish what you have been putting off, not procrastinating at all, or being in the flow. It can mean something different for everyone. If you haven’t defined your productivity goals and created a plan of action, it’s more difficult to feel success and your mental state may negatively influence your feelings, which may or may not be accurate, about your productivity. For example, my clients have complained that they feel unproductive but when we take an audit of what they have done for the year, month, week, or day, they often get a better perspective.
Committing to a routine may at first be daunting. However, when established you and your brain will thank you for it. Results from a study in 2020, Brain Meta-State Transitions Demarcate Thoughts Across Task Contexts Exposing the Mental Noise of Trait Neuroticism, suggest that you have approximately more than 6,000 thoughts per day. A different study by the National Science Foundation also suggested that 80% of the thoughts are negative and that 95% of our thoughts are repetitive. To make sure to accomplish what is important to you, you must put a guardrail around your “realistic” list of priorities. There are a lot of distractions, from your internal thoughts as well as external environments. The boundary or guardrails you set for yourself will allow you to execute your plan.
Auditing what you have done, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work so you can better plan and execute, is the final step to being productive. Between reflection and learning, the space for gratitude and celebration is important. This is crucial for your own engagement and motivation. Celebration and gratitude is the state of being, the meaningful part of human experience.
If you need an accountability partner, we are here for you!