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 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 🙂


A Few Thoughts From Disney Land

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse. Walt Disney

I write today from the happiest place on earth. My daughter likes to tell me that phrase rather annoys her. She says:

“How do they know for sure it’s the happiest place on earth? I mean, maybe our home is actually the happiest place on earth. They can’t tell us where the happiest place on earth is, that’s up to us to decide!”

I love my daughter.

But she does accept Disney Land is a pretty darn happy place, even if it’s not the happiest by everyone’s standards.

I was frankly a little worried about coming here. I get bombarded pretty easily, especially in big, noisy crowds.

To my surprise, I’ve coped pretty well. In fact, I’ve had a blast! Which led me to think about the man and the mouse who started it all.

You know, Mickey Mouse is also a slang term for something that is run in a small, amateurish, or trivial way. Yet when I look around me today, I see nothing small or trivial at all – from the awe-inspiring park rides, to the impeccable cast, right down to twinkle in every child’s eye who either meekly or boldly approaches their fictional heroes and heroines.

Whether you love theme parks or loathe them, there is no denying the magic all around us here. And you know what? The magic really has nothing to do with this place at all. It’s in the mindset of all these children and the adults who love them.

Here, nothing feels small, amateurish, or insignificant. Because this place was built on dreams, and dreams are not constrained by adjectives. It was built by a mouse, and if he can do big things, so can we.

In coming posts, I would like to celebrate the seemingly insignificant and trivial things in life, because I believe life is more about the so-called trivial moments than it is about monumental ones.

I would like to explore the wonders of pursuing what I call “good enoughness”, otherwise known as amateurism. Because we can’t achieve excellence in everything, and the truth is, most of us won’t achieve excellence at anything in our lives. But that’s okay, because as you’ll see…. amateurism is a lot more amazing than you’ve been led to believe.

But for now, I bid you adieu from the great DL, the second-happiest place on earth. My daughter and I have a date with a ride that goes way-too-fast and far-too-upside-down for my liking, but… I’m doing it anyway.

The fact that I’m smiling and having fun seems pretty unremarkable in a place like this, but privately- I know what a big deal it is to me!

Have an awesome day.