I read an excellent article about productivity this week. My takeaway was that being a productivity ninja is NOT important, but accomplishing what matters to you IS. It's refocusing attention towards your goals and priorities rather than trying to become a more productive person and "get more done before breakfast."
I've fallen into that trap over and again because productivity is addicting. It's a quick hit. Like caffeine. After you have a "productive day," you want more of them. Even if you never really accomplished anything significant. But, then again, how do we define significance? Is it writing a book? Having a conversation with someone important? Meeting a deadline on a project? Making all the meetings of the day? Or even doing an excellent job at juggling priorities throughout the day (i.e. being a WFH parent, wife, pregnant woman, fitness nut, marketer, freelancer, etc.)
I get frustrated with myself because I cannot be an A+ in EVERY single area. I guess I take that from my childhood because "straight A's in every class except ____" didn't count. You had to get straight A's in EVERY class, not just your specialty areas. I've taken that mindset into my adult life. I want to get straight A's in parenting, pregnancy, fitness, diet, lifestyle, personal care, intimacy, relationships, writing, marketing, community management, social media, building a personal brand.
Trying to juggle ALL those simultaneously is a HUGE challenge, and no amount of reading books, like "The War of Art" can change that. Authors like Steven Pressfield will tell you that you'll make time if it matters to you.
My argument is that you will make time if you have both the time and energy WITHOUT sacrificing other priorities/commitments. Yes, I love my art. Yes, I want to pursue my art. The fact is that my art is not my priority right now. Growing and nurturing another human being IS. Bringing in enough money to sustain my family at a comfortable level of living IS. Keeping my health, fitness and nutrition levels high IS. Taking care of my household IS.
Then...if there is still room to add in my art, I will gladly add it in. If adding that art back into my life right now puts me into stress overload, then it needs to be tabled until I have the bandwidth to handle that additional commitment. I will not prioritize writing and de-prioritize my fitness levels or commitment to nutrition. Some things are non-negotiable. Fitness and health come first. If I sacrificed them at the altar of art, I would lose my ability to create art after a couple years. My motivation levels would drop. My health would suffer. That time I "saved" by cutting out fitness will be eaten up by the health consequences of neglecting my body. My self-image would suffer. Sure, I may crank out a book or two, but my quality of life would not be able to sustain that pace.
Fact is: I don't thrive when I'm sitting in front of a computer for more than 6-8 hours/day. Right now, about 85% of that time is dedicated to work, while the other 15% is dedicated to self-care, household tasks and personal management. Yeah. You see where I'm going.
There is a time for everything. There will be a time and place for my creative writing. I will be a more mature adult, a well-rounded individual and will have the luxury of creative writing WITHOUT sacrificing money, lifestyle or health. The time is not right now, as much as I'd like for it to be right now. I don't have the support systems in place to handle anything extra.
Why don't I stop pressuring myself to create right now? Why don't I table those ambitions till I'm in my mid-30's (with kids in preschool and my stay-at-home husband back on the job)? That would be a smart move.
In the meantime, that would give me the bandwidth I need to really focus on my fitness levels, nutrition status, taking care of my kiddos and husband, all while enjoying life!
Your Turn: Have you ever struggled with perfectionism in multiple areas? Did you manage to prioritize all of the most important areas in your life at the same time? Is it possible to get it all done if you are an efficient time manager? I'd love to discuss with you on Twitter or via email!