Productivity can carry a heavy weight, if we let it. I've spent the past 8+ years of my working/searching-life helping banks, and start-ups, and charities, and production companies, and advertising agencies, and artists, to become more productive. As I sit here, before these words, I've realized that we teach the things we need to learn the most. So, with that said, here is my ever-evolving approach to living a a productive and fulfilling life.
Step 1: Find what you love
When we do the things that interest us, challenge or and even scare us, we become impassioned. Why? Because bringing our uniqueness (or "art") to every new challenge, brings us closer to the root of our identity. When we harness the courage to make understanding and pursuing our "art" a priority in our lives, we cannot help but to be productive and fulfilled.
Step 2: Love what you find
Loving your art is easy, but what about the other obstacles of our daily lives? Can you give your love to those things too? If you can, you will amplify your impact and enjoyment. Practicing gratitude and generosity are excellent ways to give love in challenging circumstances. Doing so will make you more effective in the task at hand, and more valuable to the people involved.
Step 3: Plot your course
A plan puts it all out in the open: Who you are, what you're working on, your art, your business, your goals, your next steps, your ideas, your community, your resources, etc. We often address these topics in our journals, notebooks, productivity apps, Google Docs, post-its etc. but however well-intended we are, these ideas often get lost, or linger, and become outdated. While, yes, the big ideas generally stick, our effectiveness suffers.
Keeping a fluid-plan (a centralized and ever-evolving master scroll of your life and business) provides self-awareness at a moments notice. Yes, our goals and perspectives change, and so should our plans. I've re-written my plan at least 40 times this year (almost daily and at least weekly). Always seeking to simplify and steer my life in the optimal direction. Not so much focused on the destination, because destinations change as we learn, but, once again, on the optimal direction based on my present reality (Inspired by Randy Komisar Virtual CEO, quoted in Life Entrepreneurs p. 13).
Here is an outline I use for myself, and with a small group of artists with whom I coach/collaborate with:
You may even decide to download our latest Journey Plan template here and click here for suggested topics and resources. If you do, please proceed with caution. This is not intended as a cure-all system for everyone, which is why we dedicate so much of our time to hands-on consulting with our clients and interested artists. Your journey in art and entrepreneurship is unique and requires a plan that fits your identity and works for you.
If you have questions, or are interested in meeting, please feel free to reach out anytime here.
Step 4: Seek wisdom
We all need help with knowledge, experience, and resources. Help in any of these areas will accelerate your productivity and joy. Unfortunately, it's easier said than done. We assume that we have enough knowledge and experience to wear all the hats, so we don't form genuine friendships based on trade, we don't delegate responsibility, we don't educate ourselves, and thus we don't acquire the help we desperately need. Here are some ideas we use to help our clients, help themselves:
Lack of knowledge:
Lack of experience:
Lack of resources:
Step 5: Take a deep breath
This idea comes from a brilliant NY Times article written last February by Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project and the author, most recently, of Be Excellent at Anything.
In summary, the puritan model of working all day, for as long as possible, is counterproductive. We burn out. While time is finite, our energy is renewable. Incorporating strategic renewal periods into our work schedules, leads to greater productivity, health and happiness. A few excerpts:
Strategic renewal, including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations, boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health and happiness.
In the 1950's researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.
Therefore, during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.
Overriding our bodies clock with caffeine and long hours does nothing but harm. Therefore, schedule your day based on 90 minute work cycles and periodic recovery periods, in which you relax, nap, exercise, or detach from the puritan impulses within ;)
You can read in full here: Relax, you'll be more productive, By Tony Schwartz.
Here's another review with a twist at ChaseJarvis.com:
And a 90 min Daily Planner from Chase and his friend Ben;
(Tip: Print and Laminate for use with a dry erase marker):
In summary, to be more productive and live a fulfilling life:
Find what you love, love what you find, plot your course, get help, and breathe deeply.
Some food for thought.
Great people unite.