Wednesday, March 26, 2014

3 Questions to Boost Productivity (AND Health)

Before I share the 3 questions that will boost your productivity, and your health, I’m going to share the story of how I came to learn these questions.

Please don’t learn them the hard way – like I did.        

Recently my truck, affectionately nicknamed The Art Mobile, broke down and it was going to be a few days before a necessary part was delivered  and the repair work completed. Since I didn’t have another means of transportation, I had to cancel all of my appointments that week.

Immediate. Relief. That’s what I felt. I also felt surprised that I felt relieved. When I’ve had car trouble in the past I would worry about what the repairs were going to cost. Or I would be angry that I was being inconvenienced.

But was I worried? No. Was I angry? No. I was RELIEVED!
Hello! BIG flashing neon sign that I was approaching burnout and needed to use my new found time for some much needed rest and rejuvenation. I even found myself chuckling as I acknowledged the “convenience” of my truck breaking down so that I could clear my calendar and get some relief from my over-scheduled life.
So did I accept my gift of time, now that my calendar was clear, to relax and give myself some much needed self-care? I wish I could say yes. Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Instead, I kept working. I kept pushing. I kept burning the midnight oil AND the candle at both ends. And because I didn’t slow down, just like my truck, a few days later I broke down. And what I thought would be a day or two in bed turned into a week.

Not having the strength or energy to do anything for days, I had a lot of time to reflect on my circumstances. I was reminded that we do not serve ourselves, our friends and family, or our clients when we try to squeeze productivity out of every hour, of every day. And I was reminded that rest and relaxation are invaluable to the quality of our work and our health.

So as we create the next day, week, and month of our lives I invite us to ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Is this something I can say, “I’m not saying no. I’m saying, not right now” to? A lot of us, my self included, suffer from the fear of losing out on what feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But we need to be honest with ourselves about how much we can really take on. And we owe to others to honor our current commitments before we agree to more.

2. What is my motivation for saying yes? A born people pleaser, I continue to experience opportunities to practice disappointing others instead of agreeing to things I don’t really want to and then harboring resentment. The next time you feel pressured to say yes to something you want to say no to, buy yourself some time. Say you need to check your calendar, and then get back to them  after you’ve reflected on how you really want to respond.

3. When am I going to schedule non-negotiable time for my self-care? For a lot of us, if we don’t schedule it or put it on our to-do list, it’s easy to forget the importance of rest and self-care when life and all of its distractions and interruptions are vying for our attention. Commit to your self-care like you would an appointment with someone else. You deserve it!

Live creatively – and with abundant health and productivity,

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