As I sit in one of my favorite coffee shops drinking my minty green tea I’m chuckling to myself as I ponder the phrase, “Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.”
Yes, there are those days when breathing is enough, but then there are other days when you want to make magic in other ways — with your hands, with your words, with your voice, with your gift. For most of us, what keeps us from creating more of that magic is — ourselves.
We wake up with our vision fresh on our minds and deeply embedded in our hearts. We are inspired to make our mark, to rule the world, but as the day progresses it begins to unravel. The fog rolls in obscuring our crystal clear vision, and we find ourselves traveling down the rabbit hole of self-doubt, walking down the familiar path of self-sabotage only to find ourselves being fruitlessly wed to unproductivity.
Oh, yes, it’s one of those days and here we are, again.
How does a day that begins with the noblest of intentions, evaporate like fresh snow that’s been kissed by the sun?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself — a lot.
Over the years, I’ve danced this dance with productivity. Some days the dance is a sensual salsa or an amazing ballet and I never want it to end. Other days, it’s as if I have two left feet and can’t quite find the rhythm.
However, one thing that’s for sure, every day I wake up and dance again knowing that I have the power to pirouette and grande jeté.
So, how can we dance rhythmically with productivity? Here are some ideas that have helped me approach productivity gracefully.
When most people think of productivity they think of getting things done. You know, checking stuff off of that to do list.
However, the word productivity, which comes from the word produce simply means to “bring into being” or creating. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no reference to cracking the whip. The good news about this is that as human beings we are naturally creative beings.
Even on the days when you think you haven’t done a lick, if you look deeper you’ll realize that you did bring some “thing” into being. It might not be what you wanted, nevertheless, you did create some thing.
So let’s redefine productivity shall we.
The Art of Graceful Productivity Click To Tweet
So how do you own that innate creative power?
By connecting to your vision every single time you sit down to work. Try it. When you do, the fog slowly lifts and you’ll be able to tackle whatever tasks are in front of you
You know that saying that goes the way you begin something is usually the way it ends? With this in mind, let me ask you: How do you start your day? Do you wake up and reach for your phone to check emails and see what’s up on social media. Do you you hit the snooze button for the umpteenth time and begrudgingly force yourself up? Or do you wake up looking forward to the sacred time you’ve carved out for yourself?
Many years ago, I would revel in starting my mornings rushing or checking emails. It felt like I was doing something, but in essence all I was really doing was depleting my energy.
Over time, I created a sacred morning ritual that includes meditating, praying, journaling and movement. By starting my day deeply nourishing myself, I was more focused and got more done when it came time to work.
Think of it this way, would you go to an important meeting without showering, brushing your teeth and with your hair looking like a hot mess? Of course not! You’d put on your best outfit, slip on some show stopping shoes, and be as prepared as you possibly could.
So why do we go out looking like a hot mess on the inside?
When you have a morning ritual that uplifts you, you’re showering your soul with self-love.
When you do this regularly, bringing some thing into being becomes a lot easier.
What will you do every morning that deeply nourishes you? Take a moment and come up with at least one thing and commit to doing it this week and see how it feels.
Productive Grace Needs Space
In college, I had a break neck schedule. I was a double major with a full time course load, worked 20-30 hours per week, volunteered and was a part of numerous organizations.
There were days when I’d be functioning on an hour of sleep. Yes, one hour! I remember asking my sister to shake me until I woke up because I knew I wouldn’t hear my alarm. Eventually, it led to me getting really sick so I had no choice but to stop everything.
Maybe your schedule now isn’t as crazy as mine once was, but let me ask you this: Does your schedule make you happy?
If you resent your schedule you’re unlikely to be productive that day, and if you are productive I’ll bet you won’t feel good by the end of the day.
When I’m grumpy about my schedule, it’s my cue that I’ve got to make adjustments. This year I undertook a the major creative project, in addition to completing a very demanding program, and running my business.
As I felt my way through the year, I realized that I had to say no more. I had to turn away some amazing clients who wanted to work with me when all my coaching slots were filled. I also had to say no to collaborations that would have been awesome. I knew by saying no, I was actually creating space for what my heart wanted to do.
The more your schedule makes you happy the more you’ll be able to create effortlessly.
It’s your turn to take action, take a look at your schedule for the next month and figure out how you can invite productive grace.
Now, answer these two questions.
1. What do you need to say no to?
2. What do you need to create space for?
There was a time, when I wanted to move mountains Every. Single. Day. The idea of moving mountains sounds so lofty and grande, but in reality mountains usually aren’t moved in one day.
A good way to tell if you’re focused on moving mountains is take a good look at your To Do list. If it’s a mile long with tasks that can only completed over a stretch of time then, you’re trying to move mountains. Instead, break down those mountainous tasks into easy breezy climbable molehills.
For example here are a few tasks on my Grateful To Do List today:
-Write about productivity (which you’re reading now)
-Complete page one of questionnaire
The secret of this exercise is to keep your list short. If you still find that you’re overload, you might want to write down how much time you expect each task to take, so that you can plan accordingly, and move things around if necessary.
Do you need to revise your to do list? Take a look on what you want to complete today and make the appropriate changes
Focus on Your Zone of Genius
Once upon a time, I was the assistant, the graphic designer, the web developer, the community manager, the head of marketing and the Chief Financial Officer for my business.
I believed it was only when I made a certain amount of money I could hire people and relinquish those tasks. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I couldn’t afford not to hire people. Because I was wearing so many different hats I was unable to focus on my true zone of genius. Your zone of genius is something that you’re exceptionally great at and love to do. As explained in Gay Hendricks book, The Big Leap when you focus on your zone of genius your ability to make big leaps exponentially increases.
So I made changes in my finances and hired people. By doing this, I was able to focus on my zone of genius, and the results? Not only did it free up my time, but I had more clients and felt more fulfilled because I was doing more of what I loved.
If you pride yourself on doing everything I encourage you to let go even if it’s a little bit. I’m willing to bet that by not doing this you’re preventing yourself from taking your big leap.
Start by answering these two questions:
1. What activities are in your zone of genius?
2. Who do you need to hire so you can focus on your zone of genius?
I ask myself these two questions regularly, and make the changes accordingly. This past week I hired two new people, so I can focus more on my zone of genius which happens to be creating a beautiful new program for you next year.
End With Gratitude
There is a time when you’ve done enough. You typically feel it as a whisper and if you don’t heed the call it grows into a roar. When that time comes, make a commitment to turn off your computer, and close up shop.
Now rest in the knowing that you’ve done your part and have gotten a little closer to your vision.
You’ve brought some thing or things into being, while nourishing yourself.
You’ve climbed at least one molehill and made the choice to dance in your zone of genius.
So breath in gratitude for another opportunity to leave your mark. Don’t worry you’ll have another opportunity to gracefully dance again tomorrow.
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