Tag Archives: productivity

Can’t do what you love (yet)? 6 ways to love what you do now (more).

how to love your job moreThey say Confucius wasn’t an over-privileged Gen-Y arsehole born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Apparently he had a few tough times, working as a shepherd, cowherd, clerk, and a book-keeper to make ends meet. He also said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Well I don’t care how much animal shit you shovelled Confucius. You sound like a smug bastard to me.

Why am I so shitty at a dead Chinese philosopher I hear you ask? Well because I am supposedly doing “a job I love” but it still feels like work. And bloody hard work too.

What Confucius should have said is: “Choose a job you think you might love eventually and you will have to work quite hard for quite a while with some considerable mental, emotional and financial obstacles, but at least you won’t be doing something you hate for people you don’t like very much so that’s got to be better. Right?”

I’m on the path to loving what I do but I’m a fair way from the end goal. So here’s how I’m trying to love what I’m doing now.

1. Focus on just 1 person your current work benefits
Maybe you’re a barista who want to be an artist. But that beautifully made coffee served with a smile made someone’s morning. Maybe that insurance policy you sold will mean that one family won’t have to deal with financial insecurity as well as their grief. If your work contributes to someone else’s wellbeing in any way – and most jobs do – it’s work worth doing.

2. Make your workspace beautiful
Whatever your current job, chances are you’re spending a good chunk of your life in one space. Is your workspace inspiring creativity? The first thing to do is declutter and clean. Then add a green plant or two (known to boost productivity, keep you focused and reduce stress) and a piece of art for a dash of personality and inspiration. Some minimalists recommend blank walls in your workspace to avoid distraction, but if you’re computer based, I think the most dangerous distraction is the internet. Work offline if productivity‘s your goal.

3. Leave when you leave
Being mindful and present in your current work will help you find the good in what you do, but If you don’t love your current job, leave it behind at home time. Don’t check work email on your phone. Reclaim your headspace through meditation, exercise, yoga or working towards what you do love. Your time is precious. Use it wisely.

4. Practice gratitude

My husband bought me a bracelet for Christmas. It has a silver charm engraved with the words “I am grateful”. I love glancing down at it throughout the day when my kids are being shits or I’m tired – whenever I need a reminder about the good stuff. The people I love and who love me. My home. My friends. A full tummy. A cuddle. Instead of focusing on what your career is lacking, consider all the things your work does give you – security, money, experience – and be grateful for them.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others
She has her own business. She’s successful. Happy. She’s made it. Well maybe. But you don’t know how long or how bumpy her journey has been. You don’t know about her bad days and her hard times and her self-doubt and her almost-threw-in-the-towel moments. Comparisons are pointless. Concentrate on your own path. No one else will walk it but you.

6. Celebrate your accomplishments
Did you take a step towards your ‘heart’ work today? Maybe you signed up for a blog site or made a new connection on LinkedIn. However small your step, celebrate it. Most people go through life with dreams, but dreams stay dreams if you don’t take action. Reward yourself for even the babiest of baby steps.

I’ll wrap it up with a couple of Confucius quotes that don’t make me want to punch him in the face.

Firstly, “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.” Find the beauty in the work you’re doing now – it does exist.

And secondly, “It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.” So keep going. You might have to shovel shit for a while but if every shovelful is uncovering the path to what you love, it’ll smell much sweeter.

Image courtesy of gratisography.

Sign up. Sign up. Help me on the path to doing what I love (hint: this is it) by following Wellbeing bites and receive a non-spammy email every time I post. 

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Happy habits update: smiling through the shit storm

happy habits shitstormWhether he wants to or not, my husband reads all my Wellbeing bites blog posts before I hit publish. Last week he read my post on daily habits for productivity and said “I like it babe, but are you actually going to be doing any of this new habit stuff?”

“Yes I fucking am,” I said. “And I’m going to share what happens on my blog next week.”

In one moment of defensive marital banter, I was committed.

So here I am.

Firstly, let it be known that I didn’t try and implement all 6 productivity-enhancing habits in the first week – I’m not a total idiot. (For those that missed it, the 6 habits were: green exercise, mindful eating, meditation, 8 hours’ sleep, conscious breathing, digital disengagement). But 2 or 3 new daily habits? How hard could it be?

Turns out it’s pretty fucking hard when you have anything else going on in your life. Here’s my ‘habits week’ in review.

Habit 1: Meditation
Day 1 – The app is broken! Fuck, the fucking app is broken! I can’t download the bloody meditation. I can’t meditate without Andy (voice of Headspace). This is a disaster! The universe is trying to tell me something… Ah, it’s working now.

One 10-minute meditation later and I feel like a new woman. And this week I’ve managed my 10-minute meditation on 4 out of 7 days. I am my own hero. And weirdly, I’ve been able to deal with the week’s bumps and glitches more effectively.

Habit 1 won. Screw those few days. I’m focusing on the successes and giving myself a big pat on the back for this one.

Habit 2: Digitally disengage
Day 1 – I’ll just check Facebook quickly. Just the Wellbeing bites page. Ooh what’s that? Green smoothie recipe. I’ll try that. That can be my mindful eating thing for the day. I am so good at this habits thing. I’ll just have a look at the Zen Habits blog for a bit of inspiration…

Two hours later and I’ve done no work. Nothing.

Day 2 – I pack my lunch, laptop and phone into a backpack, get on my bike and ride out to the middle of nowhere to write a blog post I’ve been procrastinating on. No internet. No distractions. An hour later and the post is written.

I escaped the digi-dungeon, got shit done and got a bit of exercise too. I’m all over this habits thing.

Habit 3: Mindful eating
Day 1: My kids are not having fish fingers again. I will pick them up from daycare early and while they play quietly and happily together I will whip them up a beautiful meal full of vegies and nutrients. I will be a domestic goddess and nourish my family.

I am prepping healthy ingredients. All is going well. Then the toddler hits the preschooler. I tell the toddler off. He has a huge tantrum. As I’m wrestling him to the other side of the toddler-proof gate, the preschooler tugs at my leg mumbling about tummy ache. I barely register. He runs off to the loo. I hear crying. I walk into the bathroom. There is shit everywhere. He didn’t make it. The preschooler is sobbing. The toddler is still screaming. I don’t know where to begin. I start by having a cry too.

Fifteen minutes later my husband comes home. I’m wearing nothing but knickers and  rubber gloves. The smell of poo fills the air. The kids are clean(ish) and watching telly. “You look nice,” he says. “My clothes are covered in shit,” I say. “Please pour me a large glass of wine while I scrub the last of it out of the grout. We are having fish fingers for dinner by the way.”

What I learned
I learned that starting a new habit is hard work. You can’t be half-arsed about it. If know you can’t commit, don’t do it. If you can, make yourself accountable to someone and set reminders.

Most importantly, I learned you can’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes shit gets in the way. Sometimes it will hit the bathroom walls. Start with 1 or 2 habits and make your goal more achievable. Cut yourself some slack, celebrate the wins (no matter how small) and laugh at the glitches.

When you’re trying to implement new habits, you may get stuck. It may get messy. But you can ride the shit storm.

I’ve shared my story with you (perhaps even overshared a tad). So come on – share your own shit. How are you dealing with forming new habits?

‘Don’t worry it’s only a cloud’ drawing by sam brown, explodingdog.

Why don’t you make subscribing to Wellbeing bites  your new habit? It’s low on effort and calories. You’ll get tasty morsels like this by email, which will help make sure you don’t get sucked into a digital void. And I promise – no shit. 

Productivity paralysis? 6 daily habits that help you get shit done

Daily habitsA little while ago I made a big life change, leaving my grown-up job for the greener pastures of freelance writing. It’s been a few weeks, but I’m still struggling to get into my productivity groove.

My current daily routine looks something like this: press snooze button, rush out of bed, quick shower before husband leaves for work (optional), throw down strong coffee. Yell at my kids to get their bloody shoes on cos we’re late and mum was supposed to start work 10 minutes ago. Throw sobbing children at childcare worker. Drive home erratically. Procrastinate. Check email. Check Facebook. Drink more coffee. Check Facebook again.

At the end of most days I tally up my ‘productive’ work hours and feel crap about myself.

So obviously I need to form some new daily habits.

Here are 6 daily habits I’m implementing this week in the hope they become as routine as my morning caffeine palpitations.

1. Green exercise
Working at home is bloody hard. I often fall prey to creativity-sucking cabin fever. So I’m getting out and doing some green exercise. A brisk walk/bike ride/stretch in nature can positively impact your health and wellbeing, relieve stress, and promote concentration and clear thinking. I’m sure there is a park or a little grassy area close to you, so no excuses. Get out there.

2. Mindful eating
I’ve got work to do – ooh what shall I eat? Chocolate or an apple. Yes, chocolate. Shit, no chocolate. I wonder if apples and peanut butter are a good combo?

Eating has become a form of distraction for me. I eat in front of the computer or on the go. I make dodgy choices. So I’m making a conscious effort to eat food that makes my body happy and to sit down when I’m eating (away from smart devices). I’m also trying to eat more slowly. Chewing until each bite liquefies makes your food more easily digestible, allowing you to absorb the maximum nutrients. Taking your time also helps your body notice when it’s full.

3. Meditation
I may have mentioned this – meditation doesn’t come naturally to me. I need short, guided meditation or else my chatty mind gets all anxious. I’ve been a fan of Headspace for a while, but my daily meditation habit has become more like weekly. So I’ve signed up to a paid program for some additional incentive and scheduled meditation minutes into my work calendar. The other issue is that when I do manage to meditate, I fall asleep. Which probably means I need to…

4. …Get 8 hours’ sleep a night
According to sleep experts, 6.5 to to 9 hours of solid sleep every night can lower stress levels, may reduce weight gain and can even lower your chances of premature death. Fewer than 6.5 hours a day and your risk of dying early increases by 10%. More than 9.5 hours and your chances of dying increase even more than if you sleep too little… Who would have thought that a lie-in could be life-threatening?

The time you go to bed is important too. According to the 24-hour chi cycle, the gallbladder detoxes the body from 11pm and 1pm, while the liver detoxes most effectively from 1am-3am. So get to bed before 11pm and help your body flush those nasties out.

5. Breathe
I sometimes feel like I’ve been holding my breath all day. Shallow breaths deprive the brain, blood and cells of oxygen, affecting concentration, making you feel grumpy and stressed, and stimulating the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Focus on your breath for a moment. Breathe deeply in and out of your nose. Fill your lungs. You’ll get an instant dose of calm.

6. Digitally disengage
This is the biggest time-sucker for me. I work at a computer and spend so much time on social procrastination – flicking between writing, checking email, Facebook, blogs, the weather. It stops me facing the difficult stuff – the stuff I’m actually supposed to be doing. Be a hard arse with yourself. Close your browser and email. Turn off all notifications for Facebook, Twitter etc. If that’s still not working, unplug your modem or go somewhere that has no internet connection/WiFi – apparently these strange places do still exist.

Each of these daily habits takes just minutes to do. They may add up to an hour a day, but think about all the time you’re currently wasting on unproductive ‘stuff’ and you’ll see it’s an hour well spent.

Start small. Choose 3 habits and give it a week. Let’s get into the productivity groove together and get into a new habit – making shit happen.

Wanna find out how my ‘habits’ week went? See my Happy Habits Update (warning: it gets messy…)

Image courtesy of gratisography.