Productivity – getting more things done, being less stressed out. Here’s how we might do it.

Let’s face it. It’s Monday, a day associated with being completely stressed – out. Is that really how we should kick of a week?

Is being so busy you can barely breathe really the only narrative about Mondays? Why is stress the number one definition for getting a lot of things done and being busy ? Is there no way to still get a lot done but avoid being at one’s limit of energies?

I am certain there is. How? Let’s start at the very start.

Defining productivitiy

P R O D U C T I V I T Y is such a big word!

Yet,  it is just as empty as many others, as Amy Porterfield points out in her podcast – think of “unique”, or “innovative”. As my social media feeds feature more and more photos of endless hackatons and nate-light or sunday-sessions,  as well as narrations on business achievements, all under the hashtag #productivity, I truly wonder if that’s really it.

Highlighting one’s own productiveness is unnecessary, since, think about it, if something is innovative, it’ll just BE innovative, rather than having to be described as such.

More so, it reinforces a definition of productivity I’d be reluctant to fully subscribe to. Productivity is incredibly much focusing on external results. The more projects done in very little time, the better. Lack of sleep continues to be an act of bravery and honour.

Personally, I’d subscribe to a more inclusive definition of productivity – and one, which is less centred on external results, but more focused on what’s going on beyond ticking off another bullet point.

Here are three questions as suggestion for new ways to think about productivity.

1 WHAT’S MY LEVEL OF ENERGY TODAY?

This question includes sleep, exercise, and food. If we want to get things done in a long-term, and not crash down after a few months of overworking, these are some things we should take care. of

  • How many hours of sleep did I get today? Did I ever take the time to find out how many hours of sleep I need to wake up energized and ready to start the day? The importance of sleep ist best highlighted in Arianna Huffington’s bestseller “The Sleep Revolution” . A small tip – assign some (day) time to reading it and don’t put it next to your bedside table, it’ll definitely be hard to put it down, and you might want to continue reading it all night long …

 

  • Did  I exercise today? Did I make this time for taking care of myself? Of my body, who will guide me through this day and every other day? There is no delivering tasks and starting projects with a tired and overworked body. It’s actually pretty awesome what our body – and mind – can all deal with and handle, but stress can, in the long run, to serious diseases. Here is a great TEDEd video, summarising in short the effects chronic stress can have on your body. The message is clear – clear some space for exercise!

 

  • What do I eat, do I skip meals, do I take the time for cooking, or do I just grab another pack of biscuits for dinner, which I can eat in front of the laptop and continue working? And no, nuts don’t count either as “healthy” alternative, take a break and have, no meal deal, but a real meal.

 

2 WHAT DID I GIVE TODAY?

This question allows some space for the social aspect of work. If you keep on working and working and working, you might run into the trap of neglecting important relationships. They matter. In fact, these go beyond any measurable value. These are the sources that make you YOU, give a sense of purpose and meaning, give you joy, and a lot of energy. This is what will make you feel fulfilled beyond hitting a deadline just on time.

No single project’s success will count as much as when celebrated together with friends. It’s like an artist on stage – once the show is delivered and the curtains fall, the work of the day is done. There is another kind of life that then begins.

“What did I give today” really is a question less about “I gave a comment in a meeting”, or “I shared my power point presentation”, but more about very human interactions and a sense of community, and belonging – at the workplace, and especially beyond.

 

3 WHAT DID I RECEIVE TODAY?

Gratitude – this question is about gratitude! It’s easy to focus on what’s to come, what’s next, what’s more …  we’re in a constant state of  inquietude. We’re not there yet, we’re not good yet, we’re not enough yet.

Is that the hamster wheel we want to put ourselves into?  What about taking a moment, taking a deep breath, and thinking about how far we have come yet, the challenges we’ve mastered,  the obstacles we have overcome, the things we can be proud of. Let’s focus for one moment on what we have already reached, and, generally, what we have.

It’s an exercise which I guarantee will put some tranquility and calmness into a day which, with the sound of the alarm clock, already seems overwhelming, busy, and stressed.

Gratitude will not slow you down and preventing you from taking another step – gratitude will make you move, will make you take more sincere steps, and also more self-assured. It will equip you with a protection shield shutting you off from any stress-attack.

 

Let’s get started…!

It’s Monday, the week has just started and there is literally no excuse to not just jump into a new adventure. Then again, remember – any day is a great opportunity to embark on a new adventure, taking some steps, trying out something new, make some adjustments, learn, and grow.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck for your own projects and goals you’ve set for yourself – I hope you will be able to shake off unnecessary pressure and set your own expectations, I hope you develop your own measurements for success, and for happiness, and I hope that this article on re-defining productivity passed you on some inspiration and you will continue super motivated and energized!

 

Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

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