I’ve been thinking about what I mean when I say “I’ve had a productive day” or when I ask someone else if they have. We all know it feels good to be productive; a fulfilling, rewarding, visceral sensation, the deep breath before a good night’s sleep, satisfied in the knowledge that you made the best use of your awake time. But ‘productive’ can hold a different meaning for each of us. Is it about time efficiency, about earning as much money as possible, about giving attention to our mental and physical health or achieving predetermined tasks on a To Do List? And does it depend on other things; the amount of time we have, our objectives when we wake up each morning, the day of the week?
Living as we do in a capitalist democracy perhaps we are ineffectual in altering our essential sense of productivity – will it always relate to financial gain – and, can we also find it in the day to day, our personal agenda, in simple things?
Somewhat counterintuitively, sometimes being productive is being still; reading, journaling, looking through old photos, engaging in meditation, mindfulness or a talking therapy. Coaching is a useful example of this because not only do you benefit in the moment – being heard and articulating your thoughts, challenges, ambitions – but also longer term, in overcoming obstacles and setting goals then working towards them. It can be the opposite of still such as being active, getting fit, achieving a physical goal, even getting things done around the house or garden. In an ideal world, we would dip in to both these versions of productivity on a regular basis.
The glorious weekend we’ve just had embodied this for me. The perfect balance of the planned and the spontaneous, a healthy dose of physical exercise yet plentiful physical rest, time away from the humdrum of homelife, long conversations with friendly faces old and new. And generous helpings of sunshine and laughter to boot, things which go a long way in oiling the productivity machine! This Monday I feel refreshed and renewed which for me serves as a reminder that when you focus on the present and on getting maximum enjoyment out of life, everything becomes more fluid, natural, constructive, purposeful. My advice to you; seek enjoyment first – in all that you do – and the productivity will follow.
Have a productive – no, have an enjoyable day!