I have a confession. I’m addicted to productivity. Not busy-ness per se, but the sheer joy of getting things done. You know the type. The girl who writes a to do list even if the task is already done, just so she can relish in that moment of crossing something off the list? Yeah that’s me.
This strategy of living has worked great for me thus far. In my professional career both working for others and as a business owner, my ability to see the long game and then break it down into manageable day to day tasks has been part of my success in becoming a high achiever in multiple areas of life. I like getting shit done. So I do. It’s become part of my brand to the point that when I doubt myself and my abilities to get through a new challenge, my tribe will jump in and let me know. “You got this. You get things done.”
I love that feeling. Burn list? Oh yes. To do list? I’ll take two. Journal and accountability chart? Vision board? Bucket list? Yes yes. Yes yes.
But what about being still? What about not doing anything at all? Is that still productive? Can it be I’m doing something when I’m not doing anything?
Delegation Does Not Equal Relaxation
Some would say that the best way to increase productivity in moments of stillness is to delegate. Secret – delegating for the sake of clearing your plate is a non starter. Delegation is a tool for developing others first and foremost. Those who use it as time management technique are fooling themselves (to some extent). The happy byproduct of delegation is that you get more time to develop yourself in other areas by giving someone else those activities that you have either A) mastered or B) they are innately more talented at. But you only get that byproduct after you invest more time and effort into developing the skillset of said delegatee. Everyone likes doing what they are good at because it feels good. And giving others opportunities to attain necessary new skills is a lifelong gift.
So when you delegate a task in category A because you have mastered it, and someone else needs to, you don’t get to sit back and relax. Instead you can expect your workload to spike as you invest time and energy training and developing someone else in your area of expertise. This does lead to more productivity, but is by no means relaxing up front.
Secret – delegating for the sake of clearing your plate is a non starter.
And what about delegatees who have more talent than you? While you may not have to monitor the quality of their work, the responsibility of the larger project still rests with you, so you need to remain aware of timelines for completion, and progress towards goals. This means actively communicating and redirecting to your delegatee. Not as time consuming as option A, but definitely not without some effort on your part. You are still actively exerting mental energy in either option.
The Case For Nothing
My coach has been working with me on mindfulness. It’s hard. I know who I am. I think fast. I like getting stuff done.
We don’t wait for the slow pokes. We solve the problem. We try a solution and if it doesn’t work, we pivot, we try again, we try something different, we research, we regroup. But we don’t sit still. And by we, I mean me, myself and all those who dare attempt to keep up.
It looks like you aren’t doing anything but that’s where the magic of everything happens.
And yet, the best conversations I have with myself, and my greatest ahas come in the shower, or when I’m staring at the ceiling in my bedroom – when there is nothing to do, but be. Or in savasana at the end of a yoga session when I do that body scan and my head is clear and everything makes sense. Why does such clarity come in those moments of stillness?
Sharpen The Saw
Stephen Covey says sharpen the saw. You need time to fuel your body (lunch breaks are important) and you need time to fuel your brain (mindfulness, quiet, stillness). It looks like you aren’t doing anything but that’s where the magic of everything happens. When you stop, and are still, you can take in the big picture and prepare yourself for the mental challenges ahead. It’s not laziness. It’s smart. And it’s where all productivity starts. You wouldn’t run a marathon without water, carboloading, and stocking up on protein gels right? And definitely not without properly training for months in advance. So why do we think we can explode our career and business or other mental marathons without proper care and productive preparation?
Athletes know you don’t do your hardest workout every day. You need to rest in between. Give your muscles time to build, repair. When do you give your brain time to build and repair? Is that on your to do list? It’s hasn’t been on mine.
But it should be. I have added in daily journaling, meditation, and yoga (moving meditation) into my routines. I also put 6 week breaks in my calendar to remember to celebrate my successes and stop the madness of constant advancement. Growing in place is still growth. And the stillness makes you more productive as you prepare to make your next move.
How do you make time for your own mental recharging? What strategies do you use to stay sharp for the next challenge? Leave a comment below about how you leverage stillness, or head over to the High Tides Look Back for more questions to aide in your reflection.
Marie is a speaker, writer, and a leadership and career coach. More about her and her work may be found at mariedeveaux.com