So many of us spend a lot of energy and angst lamenting over what we don’t get done.
We compare ourselves to others who seem to accomplish things with such ease, and we rarely measure up. We feel guilt and shame and stress over our struggle to keep up and follow-through, and we’re always trying to find ways to be more productive and efficient and to make better use of our time.
I hear these complaints from just about every new client who comes to me for help. And the underlying thread that connects every single client I coach is that they feel like they aren’t living up to their potential. “I know I’m capable of so much more if I can learn to be more productive ” is such a common lament.
They come into my coaching practice with Productivity as a Goal.
Well, I’d like to let you in on a little secret my clients quickly learn. . .
Productivity is a Gateway, Not a Goal!
I always say, “Life is about more than just crossing stuff off your to-do list!”
Sure. That might seem easy for me to say now, but it hasn’t always been that way! I’m a woman with ADD myself, and I used to end every day feeling like I’d spent my waking hours spinning around with one shoe nailed to the floor. Does that sound familiar to you?
I spent decades feeling like I was always exhausted and very hard-working, but with very little to show for it. I remember very well what it feels like to see the clock winding down on the day and to get that feeling of panic and dread about what I didn’t get done. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re constantly falling short of your potential, letting yourself and others down.
I remember what life was like for me then, but I know today what it’s like to be in a better place. Now, my to-do list is manageable, and the stuff on it gets done when it needs to get done. And, of course, that feels good. But that’s not the real point! Of course it feels good to trust yourself to do what you need to do when you need to do it, and it feels good to feel like you’re in control of your to-dos, and not the other way around. (Most days, anyway!)
But what feels even better is to sit down to relax with my family in the evening and actually be present with them and enjoy them because I feel satisfied with how my day has gone, and I know I’ll take care of what matters tomorrow.
Or to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon floating on a raft or hanging poolside my hubby while we enjoy each other’s company and some great music, and to do it without guilt or that cloud of what I “should” be doing hanging over my head and stealing my peace.
Or to take a guilt-free break to refresh and recharge in the middle of the work day without that feeling of dread that I’m going “pay for it later” with another late night.
And it’s guilt-free because I have trust in myself and my systems to know that I’m on track, and what I intend to get done, will get done.
I know what it’s like to feel like I’m “firing on all cylinders” (again, most days). To feel fulfilled.
And on those “other” days when ADHD or life gets in the way… you know those days that feel like they’re “not worth the pill” (meaning no amount of medication seems to keep ADHD from winning)… those days are still frustrating, but they’re no longer joy-stealing or totally defeating. When those “ADD days” or moments become the exception, rather than the rule, it’s a lot easier to shake it off, let go, and move on, without all those little voices taking over your mind to remind you of all the times you’ve screwed up before and how you’re never going to get your $hit together…
I’m not trying to make it sound like I have this ADHD stuff figured out 100% of the time perfectly (because I’m definitely just as human as you or anyone else with the piles on my floor to prove it!), or that I’m some kind of a machine cranking out to-dos 24/7!
That’s not what I want for me, or for anybody else! Fortunately (for all of us), you don’t have to be “perfect” at time management or being productive to benefit from what more effective and efficient use of your time, energy and bandwidth can bring you. And it’s much simpler than you might think!
What I teach my clients is:
True Productivity is the Efficient and Effective Management of your Three Most Precious Resources:
Your Energy; and
Your Focus (or “Bandwidth”).
So that you have More for What Matters Most to You!
It’s about learning how to manage those resources more easily and more effectively, NOT perfectly, so that you have more time, energy and bandwidth for the things (and people) you want more of in your life.
Again, improving your productivity and time management isn’t the goal, and it’s not about improving output.
Productivity is a gateway to the life that you want, not the end goal!
It’s the stuff that good time-management / productivity enables you to do that is what we work toward! It’s the other stuff in your life that getting the right things done more easily and consistently makes room for. That is the end goal!
If you’re having trouble connecting with this,
Here are a few simple (but crucial) questions to ask yourself to help pinpoint what improving your productivity and time-management can be a Gateway toward for you, personally:
- If your to-do list were shorter, and you felt like it were in control, what difference would that make in your life? What else could you focus on?
- If you were more efficient and productive and felt more on-top of things, what would you want to have more of in your life?
- What would take the place of all that stress, worry, and struggle? If you were on top of your to-dos, what would you be making room for?
These may be hard questions for you to answer for many reasons. Maybe you’ve been living in the insanity of disorganization, poor productivity and weak follow-through for so long, that you can’t remember a different kind of life. Maybe you’ve become so embroiled in trying to keep up, and living your life as if you’re treading water for so long that you’ve forgotten why you work so hard. Maybe you don’t dare dream of things like fun and fulfillment and peace because of the guilt and shame of your poor productivity and lack of follow-through.
Maybe, deep down, you don’t believe you deserve it anymore!
Your personal, unique answers to those questions is what you’re moving toward. That’s what improved productivity and time management can give you.
Productivity can be a Gateway to happiness, fulfillment, peace and joy.
Productivity can be a gateway to more time and energy for the rest of your life, and for yourself!
That’s the end goal.
Again, it’s not about simply crossing as much stuff off some list each day as you can, it’s about taking care of what matters most easily and most efficiently so that you have freedom for your something.
For me, it’s simple. The end goal of what I get done every day is that it gives me more time, more energy, and more bandwidth, for the things that matter most to me and the people I love! It’s about taking care of myself, my family, and helping as many people as I can.
That’s my definition of fulfillment. And that’s what productivity is a gateway to for me.
Instead of thinking about what you do and don’t accomplish each day in terms of “output”, try to think of it as a vehicle that moves you toward your best life.
What is Productivity a Gateway To, for You?
Imagine the possibilities!
As always, thanks for reading.
Lynne Edris, ACG
Productivity & ADHD Coach
PS: If you need help, my next 90-day small-group productivity & time management mentoring program has just a few spots left! Learn more and secure your spot at https://coachingaddvantages.com/unleashed/