There is certainly something to be said about the inclination to cleanse and revive when Spring arrives. Perhaps it's a lingering hangover from the holidays we'd like to rid, or maybe it's that the sun is shining a light on all of the physical and energetic dust that accumulated over the winter months spent cooped up inside.
Yet even though we feel this inclination to get up and moving, make a fresh start, it can often like an impossible struggle to know where and how to start. I've put off endeavors that are actually very important to me for YEARS because I just didn't know how to break the journey down into manageable missions. I've often felt hopeless and suffocated. I simply had to adapt, and that's the genesis of this post on reclaiming power through productivity. I didn't read this in a book or listen to a podcast, it's just the way I helped myself, and I offer it to you here.
Through my bouts of apathy, insecurity, fear, anxiety, I've found that the comfort of a little productivity does wonders for my ability to crawl out of "the hole". The overwhelmingness of life can take a toll on confidence and self-trust, making it very hard to sense the impermanence of the circumstance. This vulnerability is truly a state to be honored and respected, for it is here that we are able to reclaim our power in a way that it may not have been previously realized. Through acts of self-care, we tend to the exposed bits, and what a effectual act of self-care productivity can be.
I'd like to structure this layout of productivity similarly to how I structure my yoga teaching, in five basic principles. This is what makes sense for me, the procrastinator, the pleasure seeker, the over-thinker. I only offer this as one way to drop into the potential and power of digestible structure.
First Principle: Set the Foundation and Open to Possibility
Make a list, on paper. Writing things down sends them through a different part of the brain and there is a satisfaction connected with physically crossing something off. The list is the foundation, brainstorming what goes on the list is opening to the possibility that things can be affected by your efforts. These are my suggestions for reaLISTic list making (sorry, I had to).
- Keep it short and simple. 5 to 7 items.
- One chore - Fold stuff, wipe down kitchen counter, de-clutter desk. Something that is an act of respecting your space.
- One thing that takes you outside - An errand, a short walk, a five minute sit during your lunch break. Even if the weather isn't nice, a break in cloistered energy is so valuable for soothing the mind.
- Correspondence - Return an email or text that has been lingering, or designate a time frame to do this. Simply reaching out to a friend and asking them how their day is for no particular reason can uplift a dense stuckness.
- Meditate - Especially if it is not a part of your normal routine. It has to go on the list or it won't get done, as it is arguably the most difficult thing to "get done". It can overlap with your sit time. It can be two minutes. It can be full of thoughts. Eyes closed, take some deep breaths, just try it.
- One task for a larger goal. Looking for a new job? Spend some time sprucing up the old resume. Launching a website? Write a blog post, lol.
Brick by brick we build a foundation that lifts us to a height where we can see beyond the immediacy of our situation, and open to the potential of change.
Second Principle: Engage
Start with the easy stuff and work your way into the harder stuff. As more items get checked off the list, a confidence builds and we are empowered by our own momentum to tackle the larger ticket items.
Third Principle: Adjust For Space
Look, sometimes the day happens and we can't make it through the whole damn list, and that's ok! It's important that the list doesn't become another constricting obligation. Sometimes one thing blossoms into more productivity than we originally anticipated, and that's fantastic. Sometimes rest needs to be added to the list immediately to make it work. Leave space in the mind and the outline for improvisation.
Fourth Principle: Re-align
If space needed to be made, rollover whatever got bumped to the next list. I've had lingering "to-dos" rollover for weeks. And let me tell you how good it felt to cross off. This is also a useful snapshot of where priorities are. Is that bumped item the chore, the correspondence, the meditation? Just a thing to notice.
Fifth Principle: Create
If accomplishing small goals, getting work done, respecting the space we occupy is the definition of productivity, than I'd like to give it the caveat of productivity with a lower case "p". Self-expression, meaningful social interaction, being of service, feel good movement of the body, these to me define Productivity, but with an upper case "P". Making our impression on the world around us in an authentic way is divine medicine to the ferocious conditions of lethargy, lostness, and anxiety.
When we manage to make small changes in our circumstance, we begin to rebuild trust in ourself. A little self-trust goes a long way when making big life choices and creating a plan to execute them. Clearing the footpath leads us to the road that leads us to wherever we choose to go.
I wish you much motivation and productivity, may it set you free.
Pic credit: @Pumpkintheraccoon