I just love the fall! The colours are gorgeous, it’s great weather for doing lots of sports outside, and nothing beats the energy of that back-to-school feeling!! I do love the summer – I am after all completely solar-powered! – but the fall feels full of possibility.
And to be honest, I was pretty depleted this summer. Turns out trying to start and run a business during a global pandemic takes a crapload of energy!! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, and being a coach is without question the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. But there isn’t a tonne of skill set overlap between being an awesome coach, and being a successful entrepreneur. Add the pandemic into the mix, and well, let’s just say not ideal.
We’ve all had our challenges over the past year and a half, that’s for sure!! So as we enter the fall, it feels a bit like a fresh start. A new year. Which got me thinking about being productive – and about productivity’s evil cousin, procrastination.
I spent the weekend hiking in Austria, celebrating a friend’s birthday. And I noticed when I got back to work this week that I was SO much more energized and positive and full of power and ideas than I had been the week before. I started to think more consciously about “What makes you productive?”. (Shout-out to long-term reader Alex for the graphic and the video topic suggestion!)
So here are my thoughts and recommendations on the topic of productivity and procrastination. I hope you also find some of these resources interesting, stimulating, and helpful!!
The title of this article really spoke to me! I don’t know about you, but this describes me to a T. There are just some tasks I hate doing! “Why do I spend weeks avoiding tasks that will take me 10 minutes to do?” Indeed!! I’d like the answer to this, please!
Turns out, “procrastinating has less to do with time management and more to do with mood management.” Hunh. Interesting. That tracks. The article lists the 5 main reasons why we procrastinate and it’s really quite revelatory. A great article to increase self-awareness!
I had to laugh at the opening line of this article on procrastination in the NYT because I absolutely have done this exact thing: “If you’ve ever put off an important task by, say, alphabetizing your spice drawer, you know it wouldn’t be fair to describe yourself as lazy.”
We all do it! Procrastinate, I mean. Not alphabetize the spice drawer, obviously! [I’d say I’m a bit of an anomaly on that one, but I did in fact organize & alphabetize my spice drawer concurrently with a friend. That same friend I was with in Austria last weekend actually. You can tell we’re made to be friends!!] But it is interesting to note the reasons why we procrastinate, because identifying the real reason you’re procrastinating will help enormously when you try to do it less. If, for example, you try to be less lazy in order to improve your procrastinating, but laziness isn’t in fact the reason you procrastinate, this isn’t going to be a very effective strategy. Self-awareness for the win again!
One of the key ingredients to my productivity is writing things down. There are loads of studies that show that writing things down by hand (as opposed to noting them on a device) “forces your brain to process information in a more detailed way, which helps you successfully load that information into your memory.” And I have found this to really be the case. Writing down my to do list, organizing my thoughts, seeing my own handwriting on the page – this has been really effective for my time management. I am a huge fan of the Full Focus Planner for this, and have recommended it to many friends and clients, who are all now fans too. It’s the best productivity tool I’ve found for daily time and task management. (This is just my opinion, not a paid advertisement!!)
And just as my hiking weekend demonstrated to me, making time for me time is a key element required for true productivity. It isn’t just a nice-to-have. And to make it happen, we need to identify what it is we need, schedule it, be clear with others about it, and then actually do it!
If you’re not sure how you can be more productive, or need some ideas or suggestions, this article on Achieving Peak Productivity: 15 Ways to get into the Zone at Work has all the intel. “Get a PhD in Yourself” sounds cute, but is – as mentioned above – actually a really integral part of productivity and energy levels. Self-awareness and self-management go hand in hand.
Productivity is about working smarter, not harder. Working harder leads to burnout. I loved this TED Talk podcast on stress. The two presenters discussed how important it is to learn the difference between stress – which is your body’s response to an event – and stressors – which are the things that cause you to feel stressed. We also go through a stress cycle and we need to complete the cycle in order to use up the adrenaline and cortisol that our bodies produce when they are stress. My favourite quote was “dealing with your emotions is a tunnel that you get through, not a dark cave that you get stuck in”. I like that visual.
And last but not least, Adam Grant on languishing. He wrote a really interesting article earlier this year about the concept of languishing, and this TED Talk podcast on the topic was a great listen. He is so relatable and gives some good tips on how to start finding your flow.
WHAT I’M READING
Have you ever had a book recommended to you but you’ve avoided reading it because you just can’t see what the fuss is about?? That was sort of how I felt about Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library. It sounded like it would either be a quite depressing story, or a cliché. Or worse: both!
How wrong I was!! It was wonderful!
As I’d promised one of my coaching groups that we would read it for our book club this summer, I did then read it and I was so glad I did!! I loved it. It did start off a bit slowly – and yes a bit depressing – with the story of a woman who hates her life and decides to commit suicide. But it was such a rich and interesting story of discovery, figuring out what people mean to you, what impact – however small – you have on the world. Without smashing you over the head with clichés, the story gently encourages you to think about your life and your path.
“It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.”
A quiet, powerful, thought-provoking, refreshing read. I loved it.
I hope the start of fall is a happy, energetic and productive time for you. I’d love to know what has attracted your energy lately.
What are your productivity hacks? Please do share!
Hope this newsletter gives you a few interesting thoughts to think about over the next couple of weeks. And please do let me know what resources you’ve enjoyed most!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Until next time!