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I have been writing a lot lately about morning pages, and how they are a sounding board for me and really let me know what I’m thinking about and focusing on. When I start talking about the same thing over and over, I know that’s something that needs attention.
Right now that thing is the idea that someday there’s going to be a perfect day, or week, or whatever. That my schedule will calm down, I’ll have focus and energy and be able to get everything that I want to get done finished with enthusiasm, skill and grace.
You can stop laughing now.
I have had this notion for a long time that at some point — after the book was done, after the holidays, whenever — things would “calm down” and I’d be able to settle in to a routine with working and making and being a mom and all the housewifey things I do around all those other things.
But I’m starting to get that that’s never going to happen.
That’s what I always do. I imagine that at some future time things will be perfect. I’ll have a week without errands or chores or things to creep in on my work time. I’ll have the energy for the tasks at hand and time to work out every day. I’ll do exactly what I set out to do with focus and determination.
But life isn’t like that. There is no perfect time…There is no perfect day. Or if there is you certainly don’t know it going in.
I wrote that this morning. And it’s completely true. You can’t will the distractions away. Focus isn’t something you can chase down, at least not for me, and if you have it one day that’s no guarantee you’ll have it the next.
Productivity is an Illusion
Part of my feeling of wishing for a perfect day comes from the idea that I feel like I’m not getting enough done. I have lists, and I do some of the things but then I do something else, like change my blog theme, when I know I ought to be reading that book to review or, you know, actually making something. Paige and I were talking about this yesterday, and she said she thinks the key may be just to tell yourself that you’ve been productive, even if you didn’t do what you intended. I can tell you I’ve been tempted to write the things I actually did on my to-do list just so I could cross them off. Maybe I should do that.
And then I got this email from Tara, who is super smart about work and creativity, and she was having a little trouble seeing that all this awesome stuff she was doing actually counted as being productive (man, can I ever relate).
She said you have to define productivity in your own way, remember that you can get less done in a day than you probably think and that the thing that actually gets you paid (like, the making, not the sitting at the computer if you make things for a living) needs to count more in your estimation of getting things done. (Check out a podcast from her on productivity and how to get stuff done.)
I know all of that is true for me. And I know as I get into simplify more I need to examine what feels like a full day, a good day, to me and how to get more of that.
[Tweet “There is no perfect day, but that doesn’t mean you’re not being productive.”]
There’s No Imperfect Day, Either
Each day really is a new day, a chance to try again, to work harder and do better, to help more and to learn more and to love more and to be more.
There’s not this ideal place or time somewhere where there are no distractions, the work is always easy and fun and someone else deals with the paperwork and the dishes (well, there’s #tcoyos, and that’s pretty close, but it’s only a few days a year).
It’s nice to believe there’s some magical day when you’ll want to get it all done and you will, but that never happens.
There is always more to do and there are always distractions and complications.
It’s what we do in the face of those that really matters.
I read a book recently called Get it Done by Sam Bennett, which talked about doing your big important work in increments of 15 minutes a day. That’s a great place to start. (Watch the video on her site to get a little taste. I want her to be my friend.)
You don’t need a perfect day. You just need a little time in the day you have.
What could you work on for 15 minutes that would make the day feel a little less out of control? What would make you feel accomplished, even if it’s not a must do or a deadline project? I’d love to hear about it!
i have started working in 20 min off 5 min on increments and it is doing BIG things for me!
When I’m willing to set a timer I do a lot better. Sometimes I do 50 on, 10 off. or 45 and 15. Or whatever. But I just need to get back to basics in general.
Sometimes I think too much about being productive, that I forget to think about HOW to be productive. I think for me, productivity starts by stopping the illusion in my head and getting down to actually doing it, starting with the first 15 minutes of what am I going to do that will make me productive today. Oh gosh, this is where I need help. Thanks for the reminder.