The other day I was listening to Todd Henry's podcast on "The Dailies". They're his daily practices and disciplines that he says help ensure his creativity. I was fascinated (and sort of terrified) by the concept of making a list of things you are to accomplish every single day barring hell or high water. It stuck with me for a couple of days and then I realized it was worth a try.
I wrote out a list of six daily tasks I am to accomplish without excuse. And I've done well for the last week. But it's brought out a weird awareness in me, a realization of how often I rob myself of productivity.
I've always blamed outside elements for my lack of inspiration. I usually look around and say it has to do with how my bed didn't let me sleep that well last night or my lunch for being less tasty than I was expecting or my coffee for forgetting the importance of its caffeination in the midst of my afternoon slump.
But, if I'm honest, I rob myself of productivity (and creativity) quite often. What's the point of noticing your own thievery without some sort of resolution to stop? Nothing, so I've created a list of how I steal precious time and energy from myself to help in taking that loss back.
Here are the 5 biggest ways I'm a thief.
1. DISMISSING COMPLIMENTS.
When someone compliments you, hear their words and take them in. We're so busy being our biggest, hardest, meanest critics and often miss the obviously awesome things about ourselves.
I know, it's so painfully awkward to be complimented. But simply say thank you. Maybe even mention that such kind words mean a lot to you. Because they do, or at least they will.
2. HOARDING ALL OUR CONFIDENCE FOR OURSELVES.
The other day my mom and I were texting about a chapter in my book that she looked over. She said she heard me in the words and she believed in the way I have (finally) decided to go about crafting the story line. I was floored and emboldened by her kind words.
In the depth of my being I believe that the best thing we can give one another is a vote of confidence. There's nothing like hearing that someone believes in your passion and your dreams. But we've got to pay it forward and tell the people we believe in how deeply we do.
3. PRETENDING TIME AND TINY TASKS DON'T MATTER.
There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who see and do the big things and the ones who see and do the little ones. And then, if you don't fall in one of those two groups you're like me, an in between. I see and do things -sometimes big and sometimes small. But I underrate the small things, I pretend like they don't matter. I sometimes spend what I think is just minutes cruising Facebook or Instagram without thought. Suddenly, a half hour seems to have disappeared into thin air.
The little chunks matter, they add up, what is ten minutes here or there a few times through the day adds up into a half hour or two. And you've just blown a tenth of your waking moments with little gain on that goal you're pursuing.
4. THINKING INSTEAD OF DOING.
I am the Queen of Wasting Time. Yes, I sit and think and spend more time brainstorming than I do writing. It seems productive until I realize that an hour has disappeared into the past and I'm no further along here in the future. I've realized I have to put my thinking in a box and get to work. Even (or maybe I mean especially) when I'm writing.
Sometimes you've got to check your brain at the creative threshold and get to work. The beginning often isn't about quality, it's surely not about perfect, but about getting going. Stop thinking, start doing.
5. SAYING WE'RE STUPID.
Maybe you don't tell yourself you're stupid, but you do doubt your own genius. You think of something that's cool, then remember that no one will care, people might think it's stupid, and so on. Might as well respond "That's stupid" to yourself over and over again.
The only way people get to invest in our dreams is when (and if) we believe in them.
How do you steal from your own productivity?