September always feels far more like the start of the “new year” than January does, don’t you think?? There’s something about the combination of Back-to-School feeling and cooler weather that makes me want to buy new notebooks and pens, and get productive!!
The fall is also the busiest season in my business, so it’s a good time to focus in on productivity – but also make sure that I get enough down time to replenish myself as well!
I loved the concept of this TED Talk on “Triaging your Crazy Busy Life like an ER Doctor”. It helps put productivity and prioritization into perspective! As Dr. Long says,
“When we are in what I refer to as Crazy Busy Mode, we are simply less capable of handling the busy. Here’s what happens: Your stress hormones rise and stay there, your executive function in the prefrontal cortex declines. That means your memory, your judgment, your impulse control deteriorate, and the brain areas for anger and anxiety are activated.”
What I also found really interesting was that science shows us that the more options we have, then the longer each decision takes. And the more decisions we have to make, the more exhausted our brain gets and the less it is capable of making good decisions. Sound familiar?? This is the very definition of Decision Fatigue!
But the flip side of this is that the quest for productivity – and the proliferation of productivity products and emphasis in our culture – can also lead to productivity guilt. There’s no one right way to be productive. If you’re a morning person (like me), getting up early to finish a project or work on something important might be the way to go. But if you (like my husband) are a night owl, getting up at 6am isn’t going to make you more productive!! It’s only going to make you tired. So we don’t want to get caught in the one-size-fits-all productivity trap!
“We need to tap into what WE need” according to Madeleine Dore in this podcast on Letting Go of Productivity Guilt.
“Everybody’s putting routine on a pedestal, but then not sticking to it themselves…there’s more of a rhythm than a routine…. If these people don’t need discipline or rigidity or a perfectly ordered day to still get things done, maybe my higgledy-piggledy ways are fine as well.”
For me personally, one of the key ingredients to my productivity is writing things down. Apparently, I am not the only one! 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 using a paper & pen calendar and/or To Do list for this [I am a long-term fan of the Full Focus Planner for this myself]
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 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.
WHAT I’M READING…
Long-time readers will know that I love a good audiobook. And that I’m quite picky about narrators. 😀 The absolute best narrator, hands down, is Robert Glenister reading the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. He is incredible. It’s like listening to an audioplay, but done by just one person. Every character has a different accent [Scottish, Yorkshire, London, Irish, Russian, American] and a different voice. You always know who is speaking, just by the sound of “their” voice. It’s mind-blowing!!
So when the latest book in the series was released at the end of August, obviously I had it downloaded within hours of its release!! The Ink Black Heart is the 6th book in the series, and another delight. The story has many twists and turns and it’s a great detective case, but it’s really the characters that make this series so engaging. They feel like real people.
This book was so well-written and so incredibly well-read that once I’d finished listening to the book, I felt bereft. I missed the characters, and the companionship of the narrator. So I am listening to it all again!
I’m going to have to put my money where my mouth is productivity-wise over the next three months, as my calendar is FULL! This week, I had the best time behind the scenes at the Siemens Healthineers Global Communications Day as the Speaker/Presentation Coach (one of my favourite jobs ever!). And I am facilitating multiple Leadership Team annual workshops coming up over the next several weeks too.
If you can believe it, last week I posted my 100th Thursday Thought!! Yup, over 2 years of regular weekly thoughts on leadership, emotional intelligence, adult development, and more. If you haven’t watched them all, or want to revisit your favourites, they’re all available here!
I hope the fall is off to a productive, happy, and energized start for you!
Have a wonderful week!