Productivity at its best… and worst
As I was sitting in my lounge room, avoiding my long list of to-do tasks (and any form of productivity for that matter), my hand clutching a glass of wine and my eyes fixed on an episode – or two… or three – of Gossip Girl, something strange happened to me.
I found a Blair Waldorf that I liked. Or maybe even… loved?
After 4 long seasons of sighing with frustration, and becoming numb to Blair’s horrid schemes, finally Blair became someone I could relate to. And someone, it seems, Dan could fall in love with. But that’s another story.
For the GG fans out there, you know exactly what I mean. And no, I don’t mean Gilmore Girls (although that show is much closer to my heart, and has journeyed with me for much longer).
It’s in Season 4 of Gossip Girl that Blair is a double-loaded Columbia student, running from her love-war affair, and busying herself with her studies and social life. Her bestie (and enemy), Serena, asks her how she manages to cope! I laugh. But then, Blair takes on an internship at a magazine she loves. And then, with a twist of fate and scheming, Blair ends up promoted and on the job full-time. It’s lovely the way opportunities fall into these ladies’ laps, isn’t it?
(Source: By Alejanadra.Valenzuela (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
There I was, watching Blair try to juggle her studies, full-time work load at a job she wasn’t yet qualified for, and keep up with her social life. She exclaimed that she didn’t need to sleep more than 3 hours a day… in broken intervals… because she was simply too busy. I was absolutely captivated.
Yes, I do realise that no one can survive on such little sleep – believe me. Sleep has always been held dear to me, and even in my busiest of times, I’ve never done an all-nighter to make a deadline. And yet, I totally understood why Dan fell for Blair in that moment.
There was Blair driven & motivated, knowing exactly what she wanted and how to get it. And there I was, on my couch avoiding everything I had to get done, drooling over a televised female character (who had up until this moment horrified me beyond return – or so I had thought).
You see, the comments made to Blair in that episode are not unlike some of the comments I get from friends and family. Trying to be a good wife/daughter/sister/friend/full-time teacher/health-go-getter/youth-leader/Christian/mentor/pet-owner/full-time student/freelance writer/green-thumb-plant-fanatic makes me a little busy at times. Did I mention I’m now taking Ash’s advice and venturing out to start my own business? Ha, I know what you’re thinking. It sounds a little like “SLOW DOWN, GIRL!”.
Sadly, Blair’s streak of productivity quickly burnt her out. After she turned up at a party in two different pairs of shoes, the go-getter Blair was done. (Not sure how she managed that with a Maid to dress her and run her life for her?).
One of the reasons it all fell apart for Blair was because she had something to prove. She was trying to force her life to move ahead before she was ready. And so, if you’re finding yourself under the pump, take a minute to stop and ask yourself what it’s all for. I find myself busy because I love doing so many things – and I don’t want my life to simply be about workworkworkworkwork. I want to continue being creative and social because I know those things make me a better teacher, and a better mentor.
Unlike Blair, I’ve got some handy skills up my sleeve that make my life doable and enjoyable. I like (and thrive on!) productivity. I also like to keep my options open for careers, hobbies, creative ventures, and interests. Along the way, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water when it feels all too much.
How to draw a healthy life-productivity balance:
- Taking care of my sleep, nutrition, and exercise in order to keep my body going.
- Making sure my bag is packed for the next day, before I go to bed.
- Having meaningful & purposeful down-time.
- Using a diary.
- Putting my phone in another room when I need to get something done.
- Putting aside procrastination. Or, using procrastination to get other things done.
- Meal planning at the start of each week and using Sunday to food-prep.
- Asking for help or extensions on deadlines when I just can’t do it.
- Prioritising which social events to attend and saying goodbye to FOMO.
- Learning to say no and not feeling guilty about it!
Something on this list that I’m only just starting to do is #3. Last year my meaningful down-time was Netflix & a glass of wine. While this was great, it took over my evenings at times, and it never made me feel refreshed or more like me.
And so, recently I’ve started challenging myself to spend some time in the week doing things that I want to do, alone.
This has helped me immensely to recharge, and be productive in the times when I need to be. While being alone isn’t something that comes naturally to me, I’m trying to be brave. Like last week, when I spent an hour making macramé. Or on Monday, when I got home from work and the beach was calling me.
I knew I needed some meaningful down-time, and a nice walk would give me some exercise. It would also allow me to take my puppy out. Three birds in one stone, hurrah! So instead of sitting at home sad that no one was around to go to the beach with me, I got in the car and went. by. myself. Crazy, right?? I ended up staying at the beach longer than expected because I loved it so much. Yesterday I got home and took my puppy for a gentle walk and read in the park while she played (and by played, I mean she sat on my back softly growling at people walking through the park).
And so, friends out there who love to be crazy-busy, I get you. I understand. A completed list is the most satisfying feeling (although as rare as a rainbow in Summer), and new diaries are the best Christmas gift a girl could ask for.
But sometimes, life can be overwhelming. And sometimes, you brought it on yourself.
But for your health and wellbeing, find your meaningful me-time.
Don’t let someone tell you to stop doing the things you love. Those things make up a part of you. But make sure you’re feeding all of you, and not just the to-do list. Wearing matching shoes also helps 😉