I want to start off with a question to get you thinking about when you feel the best? Generally speaking, I'm thinking of certain times of the day, certain activities of the day, etc that you feel like your time has been spent well. What were you doing?
reading a book
taking a bath
taking a nap
spending time with a child
working on a project
connecting with a friend
cleaning your house
watching a documentary/educational show
These are all examples of activities that we can engage in that will bring value to ourselves and to others (seriously, taking a nap makes me a much nicer mommy on my exhausted days!).
The Power Hour
Consider the time that you spend on some of your favorite activities. When you engage in something, completely dismissing distraction, productivity is achieved. This even counts when you're reading your favorite book lying in the hammock in your backyard! You're learning, therefore you're being productive!
I feel like we miss the point of being productive, at least it's something that I've recently learned/applied and wanted to share. We don't have to be hustling around like a chicken with our head cut off to be productive. Intuitively listening to what our body, physically, mentally and spiritually needs, is a form of productivity, as we listen!
The power behind the power hour states that any activity we complete with minimal distraction within the hour timeframe will be beneficial to our minds, souls and body. Think about it. You have a project you're working on and you set your intention to complete it that day.
Lets use for example, something I have as a project every day, cleaning my house.
I set my intention to clean until for an hour, or until it's complete, whichever comes first. I turn off the notifications on my phone, I turn up my music and I get to work. I don't allow distractions to deter me from my goal, to get it done! When I'm not distracted, I get so much more done quicker. Women, as a stereotype, struggle to complete tasks because we're thinking about everything all at the same time and trying to dabble here and there along the way.
For example, I'm cleaning the kitchen and have something to put away in my bedroom, then I notice my bed didn't get made. As I walk in my closet, I forgot to take the laundry downstairs, and walking by my boys room, I notice they didn't vacuum their room. As I'm vacuuming their room, I notice they have cups that need to go in the kitchen, seriously! how do they get around us to get this stuff snuck into their rooms?!? Then as I'm back in the kitchen I realize that I was cleaning the kitchen. While a whole bunch of stuff got done in that little time frame, I still haven't completed what I set out to do, clean the kitchen and then move to the next job.
Today, I almost found myself cleaning the kitchen instead of sitting down to write my blog post, my allotted social influencing time. Sheesh, a work in progress for sure! Kinda sounds like I'm obsessed with a clean kitchen. Confession, if the kitchen's a mess, the whole house feels like it's out of order.
My long winded point is, we are more productive when we stick to one task at a time. That's something that I really admire about my husband, although I don't always show admiration in the moment. He has the ability to shut everything else out and complete the task at hand. While I might claim that I'm multitasking, it's really switch tasking, and it's not getting done well.
Here's my challenge for you. Pick something you are going to do and set a timer for 1 hour. Don't do anything else within that hour except that one thing. Refer to the list at the top if you're stumped.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish! It's selfless because you're creating more opportunity to serve others by adding to your canteen.
If taking a nap, reading a book, exercising, visiting with a friend, cleaning your house, or spending time with a child leaves you feeling accomplished and happy, then you're better able to perform other tasks later on.
No more than an Hour
While the power hour is beneficial, too much time can be detrimental. What I mean by this is your brain needs a change of scenery, even for a small moment to reconnect to your productivity. After an hour of your chosen activity, it then becomes necessary to switch gears for at least 5 minutes before returning, unless you're ready to move onto the next task.
Example. I enjoy running. The longest I have run without stopping is 1:35 minutes. Literally at the 1 hour mark, I could tell that my body was needing something different. I had a goal in mind and wasn't willing to switch tasks, walking for a minute or so, to regain strength. While I finished this race with my best time, my recovery and mental fog could have been improved if I listened to my body and wasn't obsessed with meeting a certain goal of running the entire race. Obviously I would have continued to run after the short walking spell to complete the race, but other times doing so has proved a better recovery and less mental fatigue. (weird how anything physically challenging all starts with your mental capacity to handle it)
Simply stated, our brains perform better when given a break every hour.
All we have to do is create the time to do so. If it took me up to an hour to write this blog and I wasn't done, I would get up, walk around the house for a minute, grab a drink of water and come back to it until I finished. If I was into the second hour, I would repeat until I completed the task. Sticking to the task for longer than an hour in the same position often leads to mental fatigue that halts progression.
Lazy Days can be Productive Days
We must not see 'days of rest' to be unproductive. I was raised to believe that God created the Heavens and Earth in 6 days and rested on the seventh. This is considered to be the Sabbath day that we are commanded to keep holy. The interpretation that I have adapted to my own life is one of hanging out with my family, watching church videos and not exercising past a walk with family or the occasional friend. For me, this allows me to revamp my efforts for the upcoming week to be even more productive.
In the fitness world that I train clients in, it's important for your body to have a rest day/(s). Without the rest days, your muscles won't repair themselves and you're further at risk for injury, which only sets back your physical goals. Not worth it just to feel like you're 'killing it' every time you exercise.
Although the term 'lazy days' might bring to mind a connotation, taking time to rest and recover from the mental or physical strains that life affords us, productivity can be achieved at heightened levels when we take time to relax.
THIS ONE IS SO HARD FOR ME TO TEACH AS I'M STILL LEARNING IT MYSELF! IT'S NOT EASY, BUT WHEN I FINALLY LISTEN TO MY BODY AND MY THOUGHTS TELLING ME TO SLOW DOWN, I'M MUCH HAPPIER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE WITH MY TIME.
Consider ways that you can be more productive with your time and your efforts. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not dreaded. Our lives can inspire others to be their best. Let us be a stronger example of what productivity means for us, all individuals with different goals and needs. Let us not judge what might be productive for someone else being productive for you. (watching a show at night with your spouse could be productive for your together time, while chatting with my spouse works best for me).
Whatever you choose to do, do it with love and care for yourself and others. For as we serve ourselves, we're able to more fully serve others.