How To Be More Productive While Being In Flow
This is an argument for taking it easy! I want us to question the constant push for productivity and whether it’s actually the best way to ‘get things done’. Or, is there another, possibly better way? What if we looked at this from a different perspective? What if working from a place of ease and flow is actually a more productive way to work?
Let’s start off by saying, yes, we are all different and what works for one may very well not work for another. But, this blog is for those that feel the pressure to perform when in actual fact it goes against their nature to ‘push’. It’s about finding your own natural rhythm and working with that instead of what we believe because we were told it is so. Leaning into what works for you, and letting go of what’s expected.
I’m a perfect example of this because the more pressured I feel, the more flustered I get and the more my standards start slipping. When I work at my own pace and learn to access my flow, that’s when I thrive! I am, at heart, an introvert who requires a peaceful environment to bring out the best in me. Are you the same? If not this blog is probably not for you. Lol! If this resonates with you, pull up a chair and let’s crack this nut open!
Too Many Tasks Just Lead to Overwhelm
Stop piling it on. We’ve been taught that the higher the pile of papers the more important we are. A tidy desk is often seen as someone who isn’t doing much. What a load of bs! Focusing on one thing at a time means you will be more clear-headed and definitely more productive. I know this might be tough in certain industries and also in an office environment where you can’t control who’s chucking stuff on your desk. But, you still get to manage your work load and if it’s not working out for you, it’s time to say something.
We are all different and you have every right to work under the most suitable conditions for you. This is not an excuse to ‘do less’, this means planning your day around what works best for you. So, if you know you need to focus on task A before checking emails because you know emails get in your head and/or suck up precious time, then tell your boss that. Working according to your strengths should be encouraged!
Set The Mood for Productivity
If you pay attention to what adds to or detracts from your flow state, you can start to figure out what your productive pattern is. Some people thrive in a busy office or coffee shop environment. Loud music playing inspires some while others find it distracting. For example, I enjoy writing in a coffee shop environment, but try and get me to do anything that involves planning or calculations and I’ll be totally frazzled and basically turn into a grizzly bear. In other words, learn what works for you. Learn to take yourself out of an environment that gets you frazzled, and unproductive!
What I would love to see is the workplace becoming more in tune with how each individual works at their peak, and to then respond to that instead of fitting everyone into the same mold. I realize this is an idealistic view of the world, but wouldn’t it be incredible if we completed a ‘how do you work best’ form when signing an employment agreement? Do you enjoy teamwork? How do you feel about flexitime or working from home? Do you like listening to music or do you find it distracting? For too long it’s just been about putting your head down and getting on with things. I believe it’s time we progressed and started to look for what lights employees up and how to help them work to their strengths instead of wondering why they aren’t productive when they actually find their work environment to be distracting.
Distractions are a Big Fat No
I believe one of the reasons working from home has become such a big thing is because people have realized that their work environment was actually overflowing with distractions. These range from a 5min catch up on your weekend turning into a 20min chinwag, to meeting after unnecessary meeting sucking up your work day. The work environment is a bit of a contradiction in many cases. The aim is ‘be productive’ but too often it’s quite the opposite. Too often it’s a time suck.
Personally, I’m not a fan of rigid weekly meetings that are more for show than anything else. It’s a time waster. I understand the idea behind them but they could probably go from a 1hr meeting to a 5min catch up. If we changed the way we do things, we could probably spend way more time with our families and less time wasted going over the same key points from the previous week. Not to mention the pressure to get your work done because of the wasted time that could have been used for the work in the first place. In this day and age don’t you think it’s time we changed our approach?
Peak Productivity Times
I’m 100% a morning person. In other words, you’ll get the most productivity out of me in the morning. I’m just built that way. Afternoons are more go slow for me. Whether this is down to my diet or just my make up I don’t know, but knowing when I’m most productive means I can organize my life to get things done when I’m at my best.
This can be done, because we all have those tasks that need our focus and those tasks that can be done on autopilot. So, make sure you work on your most important tasks when you’re at your most energized. If you set a routine and get focused you will be geared up for giving it your all in that time. Plus, it means by the time your afternoon cup of tea is calling you, you can take the time to enjoy it instead of guilt tripping yourself into working on the important ‘stuff’ you never got around to. It’s called priorities guys!
Don’t Discount the Breaks
When we think about being productive the last thing we consider is our breaks. But, there’s a reason we have breaks. Our poor brains get tired, our bodies need nourishment and our muscles need stretching! Especially those that sit slouched over a desk. So, if you are feeling like you’ve lost your flow, get out into the fresh air, grab a bite to eat and get those limbs moving before they seize up. Lol! But, seriously.
I’ve known too many people who work through their breaks thinking this makes them better employees. While I take my hat off to these people for their commitment I do not believe this is healthy for them or, ultimately, beneficial to the company. Look after yourself first. Get a cup of tea and a loo break. Have a chat, socialize a little. Sitting with your nose in your computer makes you tired, unproductive AND builds a wall around you that makes you unapproachable to your colleagues. Plus, remember that ‘filling your own cup first’ thing? That applies to your work life too.
The wonderful thing about this modern world is the abundance of clever apps and tools to help us organize and simplify. So, find the apps that will help clear up your mind for more important things. There is something for anything you need. Checklists, reminders, organizing your healthy habits, doing yoga, planning your social media, whatever! I don’t care what industry you’re in or what it is you need, it’s out there, so go look for it! Your life is customizable to you!
Being organized is another way to start a task from a clear, focused state of mind. Again, we are all different, but I personally struggle to even get started, let alone pick a task, when I’m overwhelmed by the work pile. I organize first and then I can make a start. I love tools like calendars and scheduling apps, they help me stay sane! Use these tools, they can be life savers.
Remember Flow = Listening to Yourself
Whatever you do, learn to work with yourself instead of against yourself. Use your strengths and work around your weaknesses. Being in flow means allowing your own rhythm to guide you. In other words, listening to what works for you. This involves tuning into your body, your intuition and really just responding kindly to yourself when you feel an obvious no to something that goes against your natural rhythm.
We are all different and this is about looking at yourself and how you function best. In the workplace, at home, with friends, wherever! We should be able to find our own patterns that suit us as individuals, patterns that bring out the best in us instead of just bringing out anything that we can squeeze out! You can’t get blood out of a stone, am I right? Learn to listen to your intuition and find the pattern that works for you.
Thanks for reading!
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