Releasing the Need to Be Hyper-ProductiveFeb 13, 2022
How to do less and be more (productive)
Do you notice that whenever you have a moment of free time, you are looking for something to fill it? If you spend a few minutes not finishing the chores or running the next errand or diving into the next task on your to-do list, you start to feel stressed. As soon as there is a moment where you could potentially *not* do something "right away," you immediately find the next thing to do.
Does that sound familiar? Let me just say right now, you are so not alone. Not only can I speak from personal experience with that one, but there is also the weight of societal conditioning, where you literally were taught to not slow down.
It's always interesting to talk about productivity and time together, because most of us want to become more productive so that we can get more done all together. My approach to productivity, is that you streamline your tasks, then you vacuum seal the amount of time it takes to complete the tasks, so that in the end, you are actually doing less tasks in a shorter period of time.
As a result, you actually end up with MORE TIME. But if we circle back to that first comment that kicked off this post, the likelihood is, you will immediately look for the next thing to do.
Here's the thing with my approach to productivity: When you get things done in less time, you don’t actually have any more hours in the day than we usually do. You are simply experiencing time differently.
Our expectation of “normal” is a “go go go” fast-paced lifestyle. Stress has become a standard part of life and and additional feelings of overwhelm pile on top.
The thing is, you begin to experience time differently when you start doing less, because the pace has slowed. You are no longer frantically running around like a chicken with your head cut off, knowing that you are racing against time and will inevitably lose. With this new approach, you can actually "win" time ... but only if you release the need to be hyper-productive.
Since you've literally been trained to be hyper-productive, we have to talk about how that happened in the first place.
The hype of busyness
In our society, being “busy” is equated with being productive. Telling people how busy you are is seen as a positive and idolised answer. It’s almost framed as a competition to see who is the most burnt out of them all.
Even as your environment may shift and slow down, or you have the positive intention to streamline so that you can get more done in less time, your brain hasn't caught up yet. Your brains perception of what is means to be productive has not changed.
This perception is a HUGE reason why you are struggling to create more time, even though you have done all the steps to streamline. You would technically have more time, but you're having a hard time using it the way you desire... it almost feels like a taboo, to "have" time.
The thing is, most of us are dealing with the pressure to be overly productive, where we constantly need to be distracting ourselves from “being” because that empty space of “no activity” is not something we are used to.
Shift your perception of productivity
In order to do less and be more productive, we need to shift this perspective of needing to use each and every minute to its fullest productive potential. Filling up each second is not what makes us feel productive; the focus on progress is what is truly important to us.
Progress is what sparks happiness. We as humans need to feel like we are growing and levelling up. Progress is different than busyness. Busyness can turn into doing things to fill time… it doesn’t immediately imply productivity.
So, how can we feel productive in progress without being busy?
How to do less & be more productive
Let’s release the need to be overly and hyper-productive…
Step 1: Tune in and find a focus for this time
Decide on something you will focus on during this time that relates to progress as opposed to markers. For example, perhaps you want to deepen your relationship with yourself, kids or partner, get clarity on your future, or start up a hobby you used to love as a kid.
Allow this focus to guide you through your days and act as your intention for how you want to show up.
Step 2: Give a specific amount of time to this one thing a day and let that be enough.
If your focus is to deepen your connection with yourself, maybe you incorporate mediating every day for 10 minutes. Let these 10 minutes be the “productive time” you give attention to your focus. If this is all you do one day, let it be enough. If for the other part of the hour you stare at the ceiling, lean into being okay with that too.
Step 3: Create balance.
Choosing one focus will bring balance into your life, especially if you are working from home. Moving between your at home desk and the Netflix couch can result in lack of motivation and productivity as well. With a special focus, you can do very little and still feel like you are being productive because you are doing something meaningful.
Be more productive
When you give yourself less time to do something, you actually get it done faster. When you have less to focus on, you can get into the zone quicker and with more ease. Release the need to be overly productive in every moment and focus instead on being productive for a short amount of time with one task.
You won’t be switching between hundreds of things and all you have to do is show up for the task for a short amount of time.
The idea of creating a focus, whether that be related to work or personal, is to enable all the other things you think you “should” be doing, that are placed on your to-do list, to fall away. Unless the task aligns with your daily work or personal focus or is urgent/important, it doesn’t have to be done.
This approach will release the pressure to do “everything”. Give yourself grace and celebrate the things you are doing.
When you are done with the one focus for your day, enjoy the empty space in time. Enjoy being as opposed to needing to do.
We are human beings, not human doings; However, life has become a strain of to-do’s and hours organized into little blocks on our calendar. We forget to take time to become present. To be. Not every second needs to be overly productive… let’s talk about a few more ways you can release the need to be overly productive and move towards opening up space in your day.
Here are some more ways you can bring more being and less doing into your at home life:
1. Make a shorter to-do list and a not-do list
We overestimate what we can do in a day, and when we don’t finish our list of to-dos, we are left feeling discouraged.
It’s better to keep your list short and add to it if you’ve gotten things done quickly… or better yet, give yourself the well-deserved break and be done! This will release the need to be overly productive all the time, and instead focus on completing only this short list. This is yet another reason to create a focus during this time, as it will help you determine what is truly worth putting on your list.
You can also create a not-list, of all the things you are not going to do. This is especially helpful if you have a massive to-do list that you are committed to streamlining, but are feeling anxious about "losing" this information. This way, the tasks are stored somewhere so you can literally release them mentally, and you don't have to do them physically
2. Do things slowly and intentionally.
Step into each to-do with the mentality of enjoyment. Focus on the task at hand and let go of the need to begin doing 20 other things at the same time. (A shorter to-do list is helpful for this point as well).
3. Put space between things.
Leave time open.
Not every minute of your day needs to be scheduled. Leave free space.
Allow life to happen and use this extra time as opportunity to listen to your needs and what you feel called to do.
4. Develop rituals.
Rituals can bring us structure and purpose, which is helpful especially now when days feel open.
Still, these rituals can be small and spark fulfillment. If your focus was to deepen your connection with yourself, meditation may be part of your ritual, or perhaps going for a walk… and maybe you even mix it up!
Creating rituals surrounding things that are important to you or give you a sense of progress, helps bring balance and satisfaction into life in isolation.
5. Break things down.
Just as you have an overarching focus for this "new added time," choose one main goal for each day. If you only get that one thing done, let it be enough. Use your focus for this period of time to determine what the daily focus will be.
If you have a bigger goal, say decluttering your closet, break it down so that you do a small amount every single day.
Give yourself grace in this time. Not every moment of your day will be or needs to comply to your definition of productive. Challenge your need to “do” and practice “being”.
Are you ready to seriously uplevel your way of working and create a new foundation for HOW you are living your life with the time-freedom you've been dreaming of, because you now know how to do less?
If you're feeling the pull, register for a coaching consultation call, where we will talk about if this coaching is the right fit for you, what level of support is most aligned, and identify what exactly this transformation will look like for you!
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