We all want to get more done. Life feels incredibly busy, and we find ourselves straining to knock out just a few more tasks before we call it a day – or stressing if we’re unable.
Straining and stressing: the hallmarks of our cultural age.
What is the cost of all this anxious striving to our social-emotional health? And how can we reprioritize, replenish our energies, and accomplish MORE (more joy, more peace, and yes, more to-do’s) each day?
This three-part series of articles will give you some of my essential mindset shifts and clever techniques to make it happen. Enjoy!
When thinking about productivity, people can sometimes mistake efficiency (doing something quickly) with effectiveness (doing the right thing well). When done properly, true productivity represents the synthesis of the two. To be efficient, we need tools for speed and discipline; to be effective, we need to ascertain what vision of our future “best self” drives us. The latter is more important, and more difficult – finding a mentor or coach is often a worthy investment to this end. This article touches on effectiveness, but focuses a bit more on efficiency – that is, assuming you’ve got a sense of where you want to go, how might you best ensure that you get there?
Feelings, THEN Tasks. People often chase down a to-do list because they believe accomplishing those tasks will make them feel a certain way. One way to live more effectively is to switch the order: Not “I will get these things done and then feel accomplished,” but rather “I have decided to feel accomplished and joyful and grateful right now and will prioritize my day to get things done while already in that positive emotional place.” This atypical technique is sometimes called “resonance” and is a powerful tool for effecting a mindshift from “hoping for victory” to “already victorious!” People are faaaaar more productive when in this mindset. Check out this video from Marie Forleo for more.
Body and Soul, or Nothing. In essence, this tenet says “Put first things first.” We all know that we struggle to be productive when we feel physically sick or emotionally wounded—and yet we have been taught to press through, to power through fatigue and pain to the Promised Land of “getting things done” ahead. It’s a deception, a mirage. The Promised Land continues to recede in the horizon as more and more tasks get added to our lists, and our cycle of “doing” continues ad infinitum. We need to break this cycle by prioritizing good food, joyful physical motion, worship, meditation, human connection, rest, and everything else that feeds our body and soul. If we gain the world but lose our (body and) soul, we have NOTHING! Productive people prioritize physical and emotional health, because they realize that this is the essence of productivity.
Resist the Tyranny of the Urgent. In Eisenhower’s Urgent vs. Important matrix, focus your energies on prioritizing activities in the “Important but Not Urgent” category—this is where flossing, reconciling with a good friend, pursuing our dream of traveling through Europe for a summer, & similarly worthy pursuits can be found (usually being ignored by hyper-efficient but terribly ineffective you). Once you fix your mind on a few aims in this box, schedule them in your calendar. It’s in the calendar or it isn’t real! Check out this article for more on the Eisenhower Matrix.
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