Hiding in Plain Sight – My Essential Productivity-Boosting Activity

Remember the time when you had a MASSIVE “A-ha!” moment and it felt like it slapped you right across the forehead?    Or maybe it pinched your arm really hard?

One of my more recent a-ha moments - when I finally became aware of something really important – has been a game changer for me in terms of my productivity. 

Back in the fall, my husband and I headed out for a walk after dinner with our dog Jessie.   We had both had a really busy day and needed to decompress, slow down.  We were each talking about how our days had gone, and what we’d manage to get done, or not get done.  I was feeling particularly frustrated because I hadn’t been as productive as I had hoped.   Brain fog had chased me all day, and I never really found my groove.

Rob asked me, “what do you think was getting in your way?”   Great question.   Hmmm.   We walked in silence for a minute while I pondered it.  “I don’t know”, I said.  “I mean, I’ve TAUGHT time management before, I’ve researched it, I have great organizational habits.  Yet now I find what worked for me in the past, doesn’t apply in the same way now that I’m an entrepreneur.   I read that book The One Thing by Gary Keller over two months ago, and I still haven’t quite figured out what MY one thing is!  So annoying  –I should be able to figure this out!”

“What is the idea of your one thing all about?”, asked Rob.  I explained, “The book suggests you ask yourself the following question:  What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”  Then you block the time to do it, and guard it as your ultimate priority.  It’s less about time management, and more about getting clarity on what’s essential. And all else flows from that.”

I truly had been grappling with why I couldn’t seem to isolate my overarching ONE thing.  I had planned out my goals – created a goal and a vision board.  I reviewed my priorities for the quarter, month and week. And yet every day, my daily task list was overwhelmingly jammed with too many tasks to get done.  And it was easy to get distracted with the smaller tasks, the quicker and easier ones, and procrastinate on the big tasks that required hours of deep focus at a time.

“I just wanted to curl up on the couch in the sun for a half hour and read a few pages of my latest Tim Ferriss book – it’s so inspiring!”, I whined to Rob.  “Why didn’t you?”, asked the wise man.  “I had too much to do!”, I exclaimed.  Wasn’t that obvious?!

And then it happened – the forehead slap.  The big A-HA.   I had resisted the opportunity to get inspired – to sit down for all of 30 minutes and read something that I know would get me all fired up and motivated.   Why?  Because like so many of us, I worried that taking time to fuel my mind and/or well-being by doing something that felt enjoyable vs. “work-like,” was unforgivably lazy.  It was clearly procrastination!  Or was it?

“Oh my god, it was hiding in plain sight this whole time!” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.   “I need to read and seek out inspiration.   When I give myself permission to read an article, or take some time with a book, it stirs up a million ideas.  They spill out of me and I have to scramble to get paper and an pen to write them down. And then I’m raring to go - to tackle the big rocks!  It’s not a lazy indulgence. This simple action makes me three times as productive – making everything I tackle afterwards much easier.  It’s my essential thing.”

How about you?  (Food for thought)

What gets in your way when you want or need to be productive?

What fuels you?  (HINT: It’s something you really LOVE to do, that doesn’t feel hard or “work-like”)

Where can you build in some re-fueling activity so that everything else that follows actually becomes easier?