From Catherine: These posts on productivity from Greg Hartle are gold. He covers all the bases on productivity. Worth saving and re-reading when you are struggling to get things done. Today he covers the inner game.
* * *
In the first post, we covered the external Systems and Tools. Now, we will look at the more important side of the productivity equation, the internal practices – Energy and Mindset.
Why is it that when we talk about productivity, we rarely talk about how to channel energy? The fact is that your body has so much energy, it can power North America for over a week. And there are only two things you can do with it: channel it or give it away. Your personal energy flow affects how you think and act, which in turn affects how well you perform. Simple as that.
Environment: Willpower comes and goes, no matter how strong you are. Environment, on the other hand, is 24/7. Your surroundings affect not just your level of material comfort, but also your physical and mental health, your energy, and ultimately your productivity. Ask yourself, “Does my workspace, house, car give me energy and inspiration or make me feel like Debbie Downer after learning that her cat died?” It might be time to do a “housecleaning” of sorts.
Relationships: One of the most important ways you can channel (and keep) positive energy in your life is with the company you keep. You have complete control over the energy you generate. But, what type of energy are the people around you generating? And, how is it affecting you? Ask yourself, “Who in my life provides support when I’m down, fun when I’m up, wisdom when I’m lost, and overall positive vibes?” And, “Who are the energy vampires sucking the life right out of me?” Grab some garlic if you need to and make sure that your relationships serve you, not sabotage you.
Nutrition: This is a topic rarely talked about when it comes to personal productivity. You wouldn’t feed a thoroughbred racehorse potato chips and candy bars (PETA it’s a metaphor, relax). And you wouldn’t put average gasoline in a luxury car. Yet, how many times do we treat ourselves with less respect than a horse or car? Ask yourself, “What kind of fuel am I putting in my body? Am I giving away my energy to my way of eating or am I eating in a way that will generate more energy?”
Body Work: Bodywork of any type, whether it’s simple exercise like walking around the block or more intense like yoga or competitive sports, will make you feel better and have more energy. Regular bodywork will decrease anxiety, enhance sleep quality, improve concentration, increase circulation, and reduce fatigue- all translating into increased energy. Ask yourself, “How committed am I to a regular bodywork schedule?” Shoot for at least a notch above “just enough to avoid being a fat *ss” and watch your productivity soar.
Stress Management: We give our energy away not only in our lack of exercise and proper nutrition, but also through stress. Stress generally comes from one of six places: fear, worry, guilt, resentment, greed, or jealousy. If you’re experiencing any one of these, consider these five ways to address it: simplicity, humility, sincerity, gratitude, or surrender. Practical tips for handling stress such as yoga, exercise, meditation, and nutrition are great, but the reality is if stress isn’t dealt with on an internal level first, you will never grow out of it. Ask yourself, “Where is stress showing up? Which of the five ways for handling stress can I apply today?” Then, do the hard work necessary to make managing stress easy.
In the end, no system, tool, or energy practice will work until you deal with your thoughts, beliefs, and conditioned habits that are holding you back from taking a quantum leap in productivity. Consider this…
Procrastination: All of us procrastinate, but some of us are chronically affected, and it stops us from fulfilling our potential and disrupts our life in too many ways. Recognize WHEN you’re procrastinating, define WHY you’re procrastinating, and break the bad habit by replacing it with a good habit. Yes, easier said than done. But, realize that if you put something off today, no matter how plausible the excuse, you’ll be twice as likely to put it off tomorrow. Ask yourself, “Am I a chronic procrastinator? What new, positive habit can I adopt to break the old, bad habit?”
Analysis-Paralysis: It’s astonishing how some people think themselves right into stagnation, frustration, exhaustion, and even illness. They have a gift for making the simple, complex and the easy, hard. They are masters of ALMOST. But, they never actually DO much of anything (Of course, I’m not talking about you or me). The quickest way out of analysis-paralysis is to adopt the strategy: Act – Analyze – Adjust. Second, use your imagination to serve you, not sabotage you. Quit making sh*t up that’s not true. Third, ask solution-focused questions. Lastly, have a sounding board. Find someone who is the opposite of you and get their opinion. Ask yourself, “Am I my own dream killer? Do I need to adopt one of these four strategies so I can once-and-for-all give analysis-paralysis the middle finger?”
Fear: Mental fear on some level is good. The more scared we are of a project, work, or goal, the more sure we can be that we must do it. Most often, the feeling of fear will never go away. You can rarely control visceral feelings and natural body reactions like your heart racing, sweaty palms, or butterflies in your stomach. What you can control though, is how your mind responds to those feelings. You can be afraid or you can get excited. Fear and excitement share the same feelings, but are two completely different emotions. And you have full control over your emotions. Ask yourself, “When I experience these feelings, do I respond with fear or excitement?” The answer is the difference between becoming a professional or remaining an amateur…at ANYTHING.
Resistance: Anything you desire to create is absolutely certain to create a corresponding challenge. At first, that challenge will appear to come from outside of you in the form of an upset customer, a non-supportive spouse, or some other unexpected roadblock. But, we know what’s really showing up here is resistance. And resistance comes from within. When you feel like you’re working hard to make progress and circumstances around you appear to be working just as hard to hold you back, that’s when you dig deep and press forward. There is no fancy strategy for beating resistance. All you can do is be prepared for it to arrive and kick it in the teeth when it does. Remember, if resistance couldn’t be beat, there would be no Hoover Dam, no airplanes, and no man on the moon. Oprah wouldn’t be Oprah and you wouldn’t be you.
Being Productive is Not Magic
While I’d love to become the David Blaine (Baby Boomers, he’s our David Copperfield) of Productivity, the reality is that there’s nothing magical about this at all. It’s nothing new. It’s simply a model for interrelating the basic elements of productivity into a framework for optimal performance.
So, let me take this opportunity to apologize now if you were hoping for an infomercial-style quick fix, magic bullet, or Top 10 list. Nope. Nada. Sorry. Truly productive people know that effort is severally underrated and commitment to do whatever it takes is ultimately all it takes.
Choose wisely and you’ll be productive anywhere, all the time. Even while wrestling grizzly bears as part of a traveling road show.
Along with helping companies take the leap into 21st century business through New Methods, Greg Hartle speaks professionally with businesses, non-profits, and other groups on conscious capitalism, leadership, and integral life strategies.