I have been on a quest for just over a year now (really though, my whole life) to be more productive. The goal is to attain the descriptor ‘prolific’ because I crank out the work.
And I’m happy to say, I have seen clear markers indicating progress. Not only can I measure my bit of success by the body of work I have produced (super jazzed about), but also by the challenges I think about.
In 2015 one of the problems that took up my mental bandwidth was clutter. I don’t thrive well in clutter. Never have. But I couldn’t make myself keep thing organized. I could motivate myself every once in a while to cleaning up. I would file every loose paper, respond to every email, sort thru every drawer, etc. Life would be tidy…for a short amount of time. Once I kept things pretty neat for nearly nine days. I felt like a rockstar.
But inevitably the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics would prove itself true once again – over time organization breaks down. And I would live in clutter for months before the next spring cleaning.
I’m proud to say that while I definitely could be more organized, I’m way way better than I used to be. My clutter is relegated to specific buckets (shout out to David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’) and rarely gets to an unnerving point for very long. The difference of course is that I put more energy and effort into keeping it that way. I rarely just set something down somewhere willy nilly. Pretty much everything has a place and it goes there.
One thing I realized tonight is that in addition to the positives, becoming a more ‘prolific’ person comes with new hardships too. For example, now I’m addicted to productivity. When the numbers get low, I get anxiety and depression (old friends who’ve visited me for a myriad of reasons).
YOu know the ghosts in Pac-Man? Depression and anxiety are like my ghosts. When they happen is often a result of me doing something wrong.
I have been sick a lot lately. Nothing serious. I hurt my ankle and had to stay off it for a few days. Last week I had what seemed to be a 24 hour stomach bug. And I currently have no speaking voice and was essentially out of commission for two days. In and of themselves, they are annoying, but not severe.
However, they severely cut into my productivity. And I feel depressed about the time I lost and anxious about meeting deadlines with stuff I could have been working on during those times.
The good news is that the same tools that helped me to become more productive can help me with this problem as well.
I could write forever about the stuff I have learned that has helped me, but the number 1 thing – the lynch pin – was that I did not love myself. I scolded myself. I made myself feel bad about a lot of stuff. And while it’s not impossible to be productive when you live like that, it makes it a lot friggin’ harder. That I can say for certain.
Right now, I’m really not forgiving myself for losing this time. Even though it’s not really my fault, I still blame myself. And because of that, I fall into old habits and beat myself up. Loving oneself comes easy to some people, but to me it might as well be a foriegn language. I’m learning. But it’s easy to forget.
So, check in with yourself. How are you treating you? I hope it’s good. Life sure is easier when you’re feeling love from literally the closest source.
Maybe that’s not your lynchpin problem. Whatever yours is, check in with it regularly. Use the tools that have worked for you to fix it if it got off track.