In our pursuit to “get things done” we have forgotten an important principle. We are humans, not machines. The prevailing thought of the day is if I can just figure out how to cram more stuff in my day, I’ll be better off.
No, you won’t.
I used to think that way. There have been many times in the past I would write out my weekly schedule on a 3×5 card. Why? I was trying to figure out how to get more done. If I can just save more time I can add more stuff and get more done.
The problem was that I saw myself as a machine. When is enough, enough? I will always challenge myself to try and do more. Today, I am going for a different mindset altogether. No, it is not figuring out how to be lazy and do just enough to survive. My new mantra is adopted from a book entitled How to Be a Productivity Ninja:
Everyday I want to have playful, productive momentum and control.
Let’s break each part down and let me explain it in my own terms.
Playful – this encourages my creative side. I want to always be growing and trying new things. You should also enjoy what you are doing. A machine is focused only on completion and does not enjoy the process. Learn to enjoy the journey.
Productive momentum – there is a big difference between productive momentum and getting everything done. I want to feel like things are moving forward each day. I don’t have to get everything done in order to feel this. I just need to feel like I moved something forward in a positive way.
Control – I will admit control can be a tricky thing, especially when we are trying to manipulate things beyond our control. For me, control is having a trusted system in place. I have a workflow that works for me. I can see the items I want to get done today and I trust my system to help me remember what I need to know when I need to know it.
Practical Ways to Apply This Lesson
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So, how do we take this theory and apply it to our lives?
1. Accept that you cannot possibly get it all done. There will never come a day when you think “Well, I finished everything so I guess I will just stop working for the day.”
2. Limit your “work in progress” tasks. This has been a huge tip for me personally. I use to get overwhelmed by all the things on my list. Now, I limit what I am working on to 3 things. Nothing else. When I get these 3 things done (or as far as I can take them), I will look at my list and pick 3 more.
3. Do not get caught in the trap of thinking you have to do it all yourself. Find the things that are “core” to your business or work and unload as much other stuff as you can. The more I do this the better I feel!
Hopefully, you see know that being productive is not just about saving time or squeezing more in your day. It is more about having playful, productive momentum and control. Then, breaking free from work and enjoying the relationships in our lives.