Productivity

Two REAL REASONS to Keep a To Do List

to do lists

If you hate to do lists, let me share with you two reasons you should think about them differently.

Many people don’t like to do lists. My guess is they’re commitment phobic. Or, like one of my clients, they did poorly in English class. Writing a list feels tantamount to a condensed eleventh-grade essay on Shakespeare. Only there’s no one around to reprimand you for poor grammar and punctuation. Hopefully.

But I haven’t met many people who can be effective without a list of some description. Some people have excellent memories. But I mostly hang out with ADDers who don’t.

Frankly, there are only two REAL REASONS to keep to do lists. I classify REAL REASONS to mean this: the way they benefit you because they actually do (benefit you) – not because you “should” keep them, or because everyone else keeps them.

Here they are:

To Do Lists Free your Mind

Think about how much grey matter is consumed by trying to remember all your commitments. When you don’t write them down, they occupy space in your cranium. Dump them out onto an external storage device and suddenly prime realty space becomes available.

A list is like an external hard drive for your computer, or building an extension on your house. Writing things down frees your mind to think about far more fascinating things. Like why this bubble bath is listed to be gluten-free but doesn’t actually tell you how many calories are in it.

To Do Lists Cheer You Up

We ADDers spend a lot of time chasing our tails. Scratching things off our lists make us feel like we aren’t going in circles. They prove that we have been effective, at least on some level. A list full of scratched-off things is like a mini-celebration. They scream “Yay, I got that done!”

We don’t often congratulate ourselves on being effective, quite simply because we think productivity should just be a given. To do lists do the celebrating for us.

I keep all my past lists, the ones I’ve already done. I’ll admit, I’m a geek. But when I feel woeful that I haven’t been very productive lately, I take out my lists to remind myself of everything I have accomplished. It’s like reminiscing over old family photos. Except my lists aren’t as cute as my baby learning how to do house chores for the first time 🙂

Do you like to do lists or loathe them? No matter how you feel about them, don’t forget the real reasons they benefit your life.

Productivity

5 Ways to Get to Bed Earlier without Fear of Missing Out

fear of missing out

Do you hate bedtime time as much as I do?

It’s a given that kids hate going to bed, but many adults with ADHD also loathe it. Especially those who have kids. When evening rolls around and the sprogs have finally drifted off to the land of nod, those precious few hours nestled between:

  • working at work
  • working at home and
  • working at getting to sleep

… they may be the only time we get to spend time doing things we truly want to do. The fun stuff, the meaningful stuff, the stuff that fulfills us and makes all the other stuff bearable.

So it’s no wonder most of us drag ourselves to bed kicking and screaming, way past the hour sane people nod off.

We know we need more sleep: for health, mental health and mental clarity. But that doesn’t make us WANT to go to bed any earlier than we already do. It just makes us feel like we have only two options:

  • More sleep and less time to ourselves or
  • More time, less sleep… and all the nasty side effects

Point in case:

When I go to bed earlier I feel much better the next day. My head is clearer, I’m in a better mood and I’m much more focused.

But here’s the catch: I don’t get enough time to read and write if I go to bed early. Those are the things that fill my soul. But they take time. Quiet, alone time. Usually, that’s the time when the kids are in bed. So that means later nights.

Or does it?

I’ve figured out 5 ways to get to bed earlier, without fear of missing out on the stuff that I really want to do. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Figure out what feeds you the most

I’m not talking about food. Decide on what activity makes you most feel like you’ve had “me time”. We often waste our evenings watching TV or getting sucked into the Internet vortex, not because that’s what we really want to do, but because that’s all we really have the energy for. Usually, though, it conveys an unspoken message of pointlessness to our subconscious. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but doing them night after night makes us feel like we’re wasting our lives.

Not sure what you value the most in life? Try out this exercise to figure out how you could be spending your free time.

2. Steal time for your values

Night time isn’t the only time you can have to yourself. Sometimes, our lives are structured in a way that means we have to think differently about the time that we do have, rather than just focusing on the paucity of it. Do you get a 15-minute coffee break at work? What about a lunch hour? How about the time when you’re walking the dogs?

Make more out of free-time chunks when you get them, even if they’re not in the evenings. Read a book on your break or listen to an audio book while walking the canine. Crochet on the train as you head off to work. Listen to music while making dinner. Whatever your thing is – find a way to sneak in some time for yourself during the day, and you’ll have less of a need to exploit every second of the twilight hours.

3. Let stuff go once in a while

I have an obsessive need to get everything done as soon as I can. For example, I can’t cope with the visual clutter of last night’s dishes when I wake up in the morning. But sometimes, particularly when I’ve had a hard day, I recognize the fact that I need to let something go, in order to get some much-needed me-time in. Often, it means that I do those dishes – but I leave the laundry to another day. That’s what the space under the bed is for.

4. What? When? Where? How?

I can’t write when my kids are around. They interrupt – a lot, and that only frustrates me. But I want them to interrupt me, because that’s what I’m here for. So I write when they’re at school (if I have a weekday off) or when they’re in bed. That means the other stuff gets done when they’re around – the stuff I don’t really need to concentrate hard on. Usually, I try to incorporate them into that activity, by getting their help in trade for spending some time with them doing the things they love. Together we’ve built an entire Minecraft world based solely on this barter system.

5. And remember your Why…

Going to bed earlier isn’t about being a good boy or girl. It isn’t about doing the “right thing” or doing what you’re “supposed to do”. I used to hate sleep. It feels like a waste of time, and I can probably only say this because I’m someone who doesn’t seem to need a lot of it to function.

BUT…

I have noticed that I do function much better when I’ve slept well. Generally, the quality of my sleep increases when I get at least some of it before midnight. So, while I’ve had to sacrifice some of those all-to-myself minutes in the evening in order to get to bed earlier, I no longer have a fear of missing out.

The reason for this is simple: when I sleep better, I have more energy to do the things I really want to do, rather than flaking out in front of a box because I’m exhausted.

Try this for 2 weeks (I dare you…) How much better is the quality of your  “me time” when you actually get a better sleep at night? Share your experience in the comments below.

Productivity

Productive ADDers Manage Expectations to Be More Successful

manage expectations

Synopsis: Getting things done and finding more success when you have ADHD comes down to how you manage expectations. 

Are you exhausted by the myriad of things you do each day, but go to bed feeling disappointed that you didn’t accomplish quite enough?

ADDers have a hard time feeling satisfied with their achievements. We have a lot of interests and ideas we want to put into action, and we want to get them ALL DONE (even when it’s not realistic). And sometimes, we get so distracted by our voracious goal-appetites, we end up “grazing” all day – on this and that – but we don’t really do anything substantial.

Right now, I’m working on a few different projects. I am co-editing an online magazine for ADDers. I am developing on an online course for Adult ADHD, to be published on Udemy in February (fingers crossed). I am also halfway through writing a book, though I’m not sure I should even mention it in this lineup, as I’ve been “half-finished” since January of last year. Oh yeah, and then I’ve been writing for this blog, too.

Some days, I’m on fire – I get in a few uber-productive hours of work and make real headway on these projects. Other days (in fact, more days than not) – I get little to none done. It might even be weeks between bursts of super-powered productivity. It used to depress me. The term “long on will, short on skill” comes to mind. I do everything the productivity gurus prescribe – get up early, remove all distractions, work hard for defined periods of time.. How is it that I can be so motivated, yet still so inefficient at times?    

I’ve come to realize that it all boils down to how we manage expectations.

I wish I could be more productive on my goals each day. It’s kind of disappointing that I can’t work as fast as my head imagines things getting done. But when I EXPECT myself to be more productive – to write 5 blog posts in a day, to publish an e-course within a month, or to write, edit and publish a book within 6 months of its conception – well, it’s downright devastating.

When it comes to being satisfied with your daily output, it’s crucial to distinguish between wishes and expectations.

Take these two examples from everyday living. Example A – When my Internet connection is poor and my search leads me to the dreaded “Internet Connection Timed Out”, I nearly explode in frustration at the sheer incompetence of my Internet service provider. I expect it to work after the first click. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t care that a webpage took 5 minutes to load while the modem dialed up – the Internet was such a marvelous novelty then.

Now take example B – I really wish that I could be a millionaire (who doesn’t?). I would spend half my time engaged in charitable occupations and the other half doing wonderful and exciting things with my family. But I get over it pretty quickly when the lotto fails to come up with my numbers.

Although I dream of winning the lottery, I don’t expect it. Yet taken at face value, surely the loss of millions of dollars (even if only just the potential) is far more devastating than the inconvenience of a timed-out Internet search! The difference lies in my personal appraisal of these two events: one is an expectation and the other a wish. I hate to imagine how I’d react if I expected to win the lottery.

Yet, for so many ADDers, what we expect from our daily accomplishments is about as realistic and likely as winning the lottery. We need to better manage expectations.

 

Here’s What Happens if You Don’t Manage Your Expectations:

  • You’ll never be satisfied by what you do get done
  • This feeling of disappointment lends to a “what’s-the-point” sense of futility
  • Feelings of futility make it less likely you’ll keep working at something (after all, what’s the point?)
  • Your work rate suffers – you’ll either give up easier or give up all together

Before, you weren’t getting as much done as you wanted to get done. Now, you’re getting nothing done at all. A lifetime of Facebook and Game of Thrones it is for you then!

Success breeds success. Dwelling on positives inspires more positive action in your life; the more satisfied, fulfilled and successful you feel in your efforts, the more likely you will be to continue applying more effort. Be warned, though – the opposite is also true.

 

Manage Your Expectations to BE and FEEL More Successful

1. Play a Game of Semantics

This tactic is the verbal equivalent of diazepam. Instead of saying “Ugh, I didn’t get anything done today!” say:

“I wish I would have got more done, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I’ll try again tomorrow.”

When that ping of frustration bubbles at the surface, check in with yourself, decode expectations and translate them to wishes. Unfulfilled wishes are disappointing but manageable, while unfulfilled expectations are devastating.

 

2. Set the Bar Lower and Surprise Yourself

We know ADDers have a lot of desire to bring ALL our diverse ideas to fruition. Often, it’s not physically possible to get everything done.

In a world that offers so freely a plethora of stresses, frustrations and even tragedies, why add coal to the fire by heaping on unrealistic and incalculable personal expectations? If you scrutinize and exam your expectations closely, you will likely find that many of them are not only unreasonable, but also unachievable.

Plan, intentionally, to do less than you think you are capable of doing. If you exceed expectations, you’ll feel all the better for it. If you simply meet those lowered targets, you’ll still feel satisfied because that’s what you set out to do.

 

3. Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

In the same spirit as #2, many ADHD Coaches (myself included) work with their clients to develop this principle. Commit to less than you are capable of. If you give more than what was expected, other people will be delighted. Over-committing and not following through – because you set the bar too high – disappoints everyone – including yourself.

 

4. Work towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

In the start-up industry, the MVP is a pivotal starting point in accelerating growth. In brief, an MVP is a “product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” (Wikipedia) In the ADD world, we refer to this as “good enoughness”. ADDers are prone to perfectionism, and we see things in black-and-white terms. Either something is done or it’s not. We see no in-between.

In reality, there are multiple steps between coming up with an idea and bringing it to life. Work towards achieving a minimum viable product or good-enough effort each day, knowing that continued application of these principles will lead to eventual completions.

 

I don’t propose that learning to manage expectations is the only way to be more successful with ADHD.  There is no one-sure-path to success – it’s more like a system of interconnected highways, byways and even a few grid roads. But by becoming aware that expectations do not have to be fulfilled in order to be successful, and in fact can be limiting, takes you a small chunk of the journey closer to that destination.

 

If you want more strategies for productivity, success and bringing your ideas to life, make sure to sign up for free tools and updates in the box below, or contact me to find out how ADHD coaching can help you.

P.S. If you’d like a free year’s subscription to the online mag I co-edit, email “editor at everydayADDvice dot com” and mention that Andrea sent you!

Productivity

Sometimes… Don’t Write Things Down

write things down

Productivity experts may be able to motivate the masses, but they know nothing about the ADHD brain.

Success gurus say to write down goals in order to make progress on them. They also suggest creating itemized lists of all the steps involved in getting to completion – a sort of road map to guide us from none to done.

For the most part, I understand the logic. But normal logic does not apply to the ADHD way of doing things.

 

Why NOT write things down?

Most of us are rebels. We have big ideas and sure, we really do want to achieve success with those ideas. But we don’t want to be told what to do.

When you write things down, it can feel like being told what to do. Itemized lists are grown-up versions of self-imposed homework. Many of us are super wonderful at making lists and creating strategies… that we never actually use.

Why? Because making lists and developing strategies tricks our primal brains into thinking we’ve already done the work. Our attention bank is already spent by the time it comes to putting the work into action.

 

Play to Your Rebel-You

Every single time I have developed a robust strategy for moving forward on say, my writing or coaching goals, I’ve sabotaged the plan within 48 hrs. I simply drop it for something shinier or easier.

Yet…

Every single time I’ve decided to do something without thinking too much about it (referred to by some as impulsivity) – I’ve got it done.

ADDers can be over-thinkers and over-planners. We try to get things “right”, but this cripples us. Harnessing our impulsive streaks can be a lot more productive than trying to focus more. Nike says “Just do it”. I say “Hell yes!”

 

How to “Just Do It”

Elaborate plans are overwhelming. We give up before we’ve even started.

Simple plans are easy to stick to because we don’t really have to think about them.

To get back into regular writing and posting, with double the amount of output I previously achieved, I had 2 simple steps to my mental plan. First – read one research-esque thing (news feed, blog post, book chapter) every day. Second – write 500 words on a related topic 5 days a week.

That’s it. Easy. Realistic. Achievable.

And I don’t get bogged down with written plans, detailed by multiple steps that make me feel like I’ll never get to “done”.

Sure, have a goal. Make it simple and achievable. But you don’t HAVE to write it down or have a detailed plan in order to tackle. Etch it in your mind and embed it in your heart. Work on that goal everyday. If it’s simple enough, you’ll do it. Stick to that mental plan for as long as you possibly can. And then, a bit longer.

There may be a time down the road when you WILL need a written out strategy. Goals have different phases on the road to completion. But by the time the next phase rolls around, you’ll already be rooted in the achievement habit and won’t be fooled into thinking that the plan is all you need.

Impulsivity can be an ally just as much as it can be an adversary. But it doesn’t want you to write out a plan for your goals, it wants you to go for them!

Productivity

Scrap the Apps – Do What Works

scrap the apps

Do you remember the days when an application was something you completed to get yourself a job, not something you used to get that job done?

If not, go away. You make me feel old.

Apps of the contemporary definition have become an inherent part of modern living. They make a multitude of tasks, commitments and goals more manageable.

At least, that’s what we think.

Three times recently, I’ve been stood up by people who forgot our appointment because their pc calendar didn’t sync properly with their phones. They didn’t get a reminder to remember me.

Of course, I forgive this oversight easily. I’ve been unreliable in the past too. But it does get me thinking…

If a person relies on their phone to remember important dates and commitments, why wouldn’t they use their phone’s calendar in the first place? Why rely on two different apps to sync with each other when quite possibly one would do just fine?

I get that there are reasons to organize your life with sophisticated apps that integrate with other sophisticated apps. I’m don’t disagree with those reasons. What I am saying is this:

Sometimes apps fail us.

Sometimes they fail us because we don’t know how to use them properly. And sometimes they fail us because, although they sound great in theory, all they really do is over-complicate what could be a really simple thing.

notebooks

ADDers have a tendency to over-complicate things too. Even with old fashioned “apps” called notebooks, we often have several of them, making it arduous to retrieve the info we need.

Relying on multiple apps to simplify life management is like hiring a team of Michelin Star chefs to fry a couple eggs. They could definitely do it. But you know what happens when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen.

Complicated apps, just like complicated systems, fuel chaos instead of diminishing it. If you’re getting bogged down and dropping balls, maybe the best approach is to de-clutter your systems. The good old fashioned calendar has survived for thousands of years because of one reason:

It works.

Productivity

One Goal Wonder

one goal

Which of your children would you give up if you had to?

Maybe you don’t have kids. Okay then- which of your limbs would you sacrifice in order to save the rest? I mean, if you HAD to.

Can’t make a decision?

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to. But we do have to make important choices about our goals. And sometimes when I ask people to do that, they react as if it’s an offspring or appendage I’m asking them to relinquish.

By the way, that’s not what I’m asking at all. I’m not a prehistoric deity or the psycho out of Saw.

But…

I am asking you to juggle your goals differently. One ball (goal) at a time.

But I have many… why should I choose just one goal?!

 

All too frequently, my coaching clients want to change their agenda every time we meet. They try to relegate whatever we talked about last week in favor of this week’s shinier (more urgent) topic.

I get that. We live in the moment. Whatever is on our mind right now feels like the most important thing. Ever. And sometimes it is, so we refocus our priorities and switch gears.

But other times, our vacillation is really just a symptom. We can’t hold on to our goals and priorities just like we can’t keep track of our thoughts, our keys or the passing of time.

In other words, goals can be distractions.

To pick one goal out of a bunch and focus solely on it feels like neglecting some of our kids in favor of one. Sometimes, though, one kid needs more attention. And then when that kid is okay, you can turn your attention to the rest.

And just so you childless people don’t feel left out, rest assured – the same applies to limbs. Sometimes you have to favor one of them (i.e. an injured one). That doesn’t mean the others aren’t important.

How do you choose one goal?

It really depends on your circumstances. There may not be one right answer. You may have to simply pick one and stick with it, until it doesn’t need your attention any more. You’re not going to say no to your other goals. You are going to say: not now.

Your other goals benefit by proxy from your discernment. Success breeds success. When you feel successful, it will make you more apt to tackle your other goals with vivacity and enthusiasm.

When your space is more organized, you’ll feel more focused when you write. When you’re managing time better, you’ll be able to grow your business. When your finances are in order, you’ll start saving for the round-the-world trip you’ve been dreaming about.

But if you try to tackle them all simultaneously, you’ll get nowhere on any of them.

So maybe that’s the best reason of all to stick to the one goal strategy:

Its better to get somewhere on one thing, then nowhere on everything. 

Check out Ramit Sethi’s interview with Noah Kagan for more on how focusing on one goal can accelerate your productivity.

Productivity

Are You a Simplifier or an Optimizer?

The way you approach the multitude of tasks in your life makes all the difference between being a champion of effectiveness or a casualty of complete exhaustion.  If the latter sounds more like your description, you may be making life unnecessarily hard.

Simplifiers vs Optimizers

According to Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, a simplifier is someone who will choose the straightforward (sometimes easier) way of completing a task, even when he or she could have achieved better results with more effort. An optimizer, as he defines it, is someone who will take the extra effort to get better results, even at the risk of unexpected contingencies sending the whole plan south. (See Scott’s book – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.)

The Uncomplicated Path

A simplifier leaves on time for a meeting, arrives at least 5 minutes early and uses that waiting time to check his or her emails on a smart phone. Someone who simplifies their tasks and goals will take the most direct path towards achieving them. It’s not automatically the fastest route or the strategy with fewer or easier steps, but it’s the course least likely to have hassles along the way.

Because of its straightforward nature, it often does turn out to be the fastest or easiest option.

The Ambitious Path

An optimizer combines tasks that pair well together – either by proximity or likeness – and that, when executed well, will lead to higher levels of achievement and efficiency. An optimizer leaves on time for a meeting, but gets gas and drops books off at the library en route, in order to save time later. He or she may make phone calls at red lights or check share prices on the toilet.

In essence, an optimizer sucks every grain of sand from their hourglass, until its nothing but an empty shell.

When the optimizer’s strategy works, it’s a buzz. To clear essential tasks off your list and still get to your date in the nick of time – it makes you feel like a supercharged, productivity dynamo. That’s what makes it so compelling.

But when unpredicted glitches upset the delicate equilibrium required by optimizing – it’s stressful and deflating. Not to mention relationship-damaging.

For the record, I am an optimizer who is schooling herself in the art of simplicity. It’s not exactly a fine art, but it takes quite a bit of practice.

Driven By ADHD

I hypothesize that many ADDers are optimizers. We see opportunities to maximize productivity and we take them. Sometimes it makes sense. Getting gas on the way to the grocery store is efficient. Getting gas on the way to your wedding, however, is stupid. The problem is, we don’t always make the correct distinction.

Sometimes when we are “optimizing” though, it’s because, ultimately, we are terrified being bored and having to wait for something or someone. Have you ever heard of  “just-one-more-thing syndrome”? As in:

“I still have 5 minutes. I’ll just do one more thing (or two, or three), then I’ll go.”

It’s the effect of optimizing, but the cause of much tardiness and white-knuckle fever. One-more-thing can be efficient, but then again – it might not be. The passing of time, how long something will take, potential interruptions… all of these things are estimated by great optimizers. Most of us aren’t great estimators.

Which Approach Should You Take?

Adams suggests that if you can’t predict all the variables in a situation (red lights, traffic stops, old ladies crossing the road), choosing simplicity over optimum is a better choice.

But if punctuality doesn’t matter, optimizing your tasks may be the way to go. Sometimes, it may be your only choice, like if you run out of gas on the way to your meeting.

On a whole, however, I think most of us could benefit from learning the art of simplicity. Recently, I started working with a man whose life has been turned upside down from the hot mess created by not dealing with his ADHD challenges earlier. Let’s just say his life has suddenly become very complicated by court dates, immigration procedures, and financial crisis. It’s overwhelming.

His life has never been more complicated and there certainly are no simple solutions. And yet – there are. In fact, he has never needed simplicity more than he needs it now.

The most monumental of tasks can always be broken down into simpler steps. My client can’t control the judicial system. He can do what it expects of him: abide by his conditions and show up to court on time. He can’t control immigration procedures. But he can clarify the first step in the application process. He can’t reverse his financial problems. He can start by dealing with one debt.

There’s a Time for Both

Optimizing is about getting as much done as possible, with maximum impact. It’s an alluring tactic when you have a lot to do. Plan your tasks carefully and be mindful of the time each will take. Prioritize them according to their importance and urgency and be prepared to let some of them go. Ask yourself if each task is a “must be done” or a “nice to be done”, then prioritize accordingly.

Sometimes, you are at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. You can only optimize so much. The compulsion to get things done, when you can’t get things done, will only make you impatient, frustrated, and wear you down. Let it go and simplify.

Simplifying turns a problem or a goal into a series of manageable challenges. It removes overwhelm by focusing on what is possible: show up, do the work, repeat.

Pay attention to how your days usually go. Are you trying to fit in as much as possible, sometimes to the detriment of your (or someone else’s) sanity? Or are you streamlining too much, and not getting enough done? Maybe you need to up your game.

Adams makes inferences that people are either an optimizer or a simplifier – but I think it’s possible to be both, depending on what the situation calls for. It takes a little awareness and self-reflection, but learning to shift between these two approaches can bring more calm, focus and productivity to your day.

For more about this and some surprisingly profound insights from the cartoonist himself, check out Adams’ book here.

In the spirit of “cartoonistry” (its a word, albeit not a real one), I thought I would commission a cartoon as the image for this post. A BIG THANKS goes out to my 8-year-old daughter “Zee” for her excellent work – love ya sweet cheeks! xxx

Productivity

An Oath of Fulfilling Productivity (What Will You NOT Do Today?)

It’s been a busy summer. Like every summer, the days have slipped past me faster than the plummeting price of oil.

I love having the kids off from school. No lunches to pack, no early morning alarm bells (for them, anyway). No arguing over what to wear or when to go to bed. Just pure, blissful, organic, moment-to-moment living.

I treasure these stolen moments with the kids, to laze around and (yes, I’ll admit) watch Vat19.com videos on Youtube. It’s guilt-inducing that I allow them to pollute their minds with pointless tripe, but redeeming to find communion over a shared sense of humour.

Admittedly, there have not been enough “stolen moments” like these. (I count stolen moments as extra moments to do out-of-the-ordinary things that can’t be done within the confines of your normal schedule).There have been even fewer quality moments doing things of substance and value. Because, like I said, we’ve been busy.

Work, business, blogging and website building. Basement renovations, deck building, hardware shopping and garbage dump deliveries. New puppy, summer parties, sleepovers and play dates. Garage sales and grocery shopping. Carpet cleaning and yard clean up (like I said – NEW PUPPY!). Company from afar and from across the road…

All the things that occupy the stolen moments supposedly called “free time”.

And yet with all the busyness, it’s hard not to focus on what hasn’t been done. It’s easy to feel unfulfilled.

Yes, we have a new deck – but it’s overshadowed by the proliferating weed-monstrosities overtaking the garden. The neighbours must hate us.

Yes, the basement is now finished after twelve grueling months, but the spot-washed carpet is a mere homage to the cleaning that remains to be done. What the company must think!

Yes, the kids have had fun with so many of their friends and the puppies have been exercised and fed. But what none of them have had is enough of me. Because, you know – the new deck, the basement, the company and ++ more.

I started out the summer with a master list of everything I wanted to accomplish during these respite months. What I forgot to include was list of everything I didn’t want to do. Being happy and productive is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

So with a month left to go, time is of the essence to make that list right now.

My Oath to Fulfilling Productivity

  1. I vow that however I spend my time, I will do so by being fully present and in the moment with that activity. When I am working in the yard, I will work in the yard. When I am with the kids, I will be with the kids. I am one person, with one my mind. I can’t split my body into two people, so why should I spilt my mind?
  1. I promise that I will give equal time to activities of substance and productivity. Guilt will not rob me of fulfillment in either. I need to spend quality time with my family and I need to get things done. These needs are not mutually exclusive and they both deserve my attention.
  1. I assert that I will let some things go. Busyness will only be allocated to activities I endorse as valuable, regardless of how others may perceive me. So yes, the garden will remain overgrown. I am busy with other things this summer, and that’s nobody’s business but mine.
  1. I commit to making productivity a by-product of fulfillment, rather than the other way around. Getting things done is not important activity in and of itself. On the other hand, fulfillment as a precursor to any activity lends itself to greater focus.
  1. No matter how busy I get, I will always make time for stolen moments. In fact, I will get myself busier by making more of them. Renovating or yard work can be interrupted to laugh and love more freely. Work and business can be punctuated with impromptu cuddles and smiles and silliness. Company can be stalled or sent home sooner than anticipated because nobody should get more of me than my family does, and nobody should get be more of my family than me.
  1. Before I engage in any activity of productiveness, I will start with a clear sense of a good-enough outcome for that moment. Aiming for a “finish” often means other important things (i.e. family) get relegated to second place in pursuit completion. Finishing is mot more valuable than balance.

You can make more money but you can never make more time, warns Randy Pausch. But you can make more of the time you have by choosing to spend it in fulfilling ways, even if that means learning to find your busyness more fulfilling.

I know that if I took more time to write this post, I would certainly think of at least a few more oaths I would like to make. But for now I am practicing “good-enough”.

I’m interested to hear what oaths you would make to create more fulfilling productivity in your life, and more specifically – what you would start “not doing” in order to achieve it. Let me know in the comments below 🙂