It’s almost August and it’s been one heck of a year, not just for me but for so many friends, colleagues, and clients. Yet Tuesday morning beckons and I know that means it is time to write my blog post for the week. Most of the time the words just pour onto the page. Unlike some bloggers I don’t pre-write, my posts are inspired by my clients, my week, and my life.
Except today I’m stuck. Maybe it’s how sad I am about the loss of Robin Williams. Maybe it is because both my children are leaving for college on Saturday (sad, excited and super busy all at the same time), maybe it is because I need a vacation. I think that’s it. I have been reading all these great articles about how productivity improves with down time. This is what I’ve picked up:
So, my productivity tip for the week is to take some down time. Happy August, vacation, and napping. Talk to you next week – then it’s VACATION TIME!
I don’t know if you were raised like I was, but when was little I was taught to finish my work before I played. It made sense in to finish my homework before I went out to play. It made sense to study for a test or clean my room before my friends came over. It made sense then.
But does it make sense now? Will we EVER be done with our work? I don’t think so. As a business professional, homeowner, and mom I could work 72 hours a day and still not be done. In this day and age of information overload and cutting budgets we are all trying to fit the work of 3 or 4 people into one. It’s time for a shift.
It’s hard to up your game when you’re burned out and overwhelmed. It’s hard to think clearly and productively when you don’t have the bandwidth. Our short term memories are finite and sometimes there is just no more room. If you don’t take time to care for yourself it will take longer to get your important work done. As Abe Lincoln said “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.”
As I was sorting through 5 days of mail yesterday (I was out of town) I exclaimed “I’m never subscribing to another magazine again.” For years when I’ve spoken to groups we’ve discussed why we feel so obligated to read things we didn’t ask for. And last night I realized I’ve been doing the same thing. My Harvard Business Review and Cooking Light barely get open, yet I read the local magazines that are sent, and I read the grocery store flyers, and I look at the catalogs that come. YES – My casual reading time is being spent on the things that don’t matter, and the things that do matter aren’t getting any attention.
I need a new system! Here it is:
The truth is I do most of my reading on my computer. My Facebook and LinkedIn feed seems to bring me relevant and interesting articles daily. That seems manageable and digestible. I really don’t want to give up all my magazines, but if I want to be sure the ones I value can be looked at, then I best be ruthless with the ones I don’t.
If you’ve subscribed to my weekly tips for awhile you’ll know that I try to get away a couple of times a year for a few days of retreat. I’ve just returned from Kripalu and feel much more clear and focused. I’m pretty sure that this quiet week of learning and renewal is one of the best things I do to keep myself productive.
With the numerous demands in today’s crazy-busy world, good productivity practices focus on doing the work that matters most. But, when our minds are full, and bodies exhausted, it’s hard to think clearly enough to know which exactly those things are. Quite and reflection helps me to identify where in-fact my priorities lay. It helps me identify what my most important work is.
We weed our garden so the nutrients and water are available to the flowers. If we leave the weeds they end up sucking the vitality from the soil and our flowers might die; certainly our flowers will be healthier without them.
Are there weeds sucking the vitality out of your life? Are they on your schedule, in your self-care, on your desk?
I’m sitting here at my desk with the window open listening to the birds singing. Certainly spring has sprung here in New Jersey. As we move into spring think about which “weeds” you can pull so the most important things in your life can thrive.