At the top of most people's list of goals is normally the usual culprit: I want to be more productive and focused. I want to get more stuff done this year. So many of my girlfriends usually send themselves into a "life hack frenzy" – Googling every productivity solution known to mankind. This usually starts with a week of "results" and ends with a forgotten goal and a return to old habits. What if the key to maximizing productivity was rethinking our approach? While so many of us think we can hack our way to optimizing our output, we oftentimes forget about the bigger picture.
Productivity is a mindset. It's a lifestyle. It's part of the wellness journey. If we're open to finding the connections between productivity and our overall physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional states, defining and achieving "productivity" on an individual level doesn't have to be as difficult. Scroll through to learn how some of your favorite wellness enthusiasts approach productivity. They share their favorite strategies, tips, and techniques that can help you along your own journey to a better you!
Note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Create Patterns & Lists.
Photo Credit: Lydia Hudgens
Courtesy of Jessamyn Stanley
Jessamyn Stanley, Yoga Teacher & Writer - @mynameisjessamyn
"If you don't take care of every piece of yourself, you won't be able to be all that you can be. I have patterns. In the morning, I wake up and make my bed. That's a core part of closing out the time that I was in my bed. Then I have time with myself, even if it's just five minutes of mindful breathing. I usually do some sort of yoga and meditation practice and another type of physical exercise, whether it's cardio, weight training…it has to be time that is not for anything else. It's something that grounds me in myself.
Being able to let it be fluid is a key part. I allow it to morph and change depending on where I am and how much time I have. There may come a day when the [situation will change] and before you know it, the pattern is gone. You can say, 'It's okay for it to be how it is today. It's okay for me to miss a day. Oh, I don't have my usual hour, I got 30 minutes, that's fine.' I'm not running a short race. I'm running the marathon of life.
I also believe in making lists so that you can see the things you're trying to accomplish. Put different sized things on the list so you can constantly be checking things off. Even if it's just a small thing – it's totally on the list. It's right next to the big thing. That makes the big thing seem more attainable."
"I'm not running a short race. I'm running the marathon of life."
Focus On Positive Energy.
Dade Shelby, Yoga Instructor & Trainer - @dade2shelby
"Everything is a journey. [Productivity] is something I'm always working toward. I never have it completely figured out. It's good to have a practice or routine that helps brings you back to where you need to be.
Daily, when I encounter bad energy, I never transfer that to the next place. If I have a bad morning and I'm headed to work, I sit in my car for a few minutes and breathe. I listen to music or sounds that will bring me back to a peaceful state. I meditate for three minutes to bring myself down and not bring bad energy from one place to the next.
[An activity like] yoga clears your mind. It's a non-impact way to start doing things. If physicality is the issue, it's a good intro back into that. Mentally, it brings you into a peaceful mindstate where you can think more clearly and get your thoughts straightened out. Spiritually, it brings you back to the source - whatever that source is for [you]."
Identify Your Triggers.
Photo Credit: Jasper Soloff
Courtesy of Emilia Ortiz
Emilia Ortiz, Bruja & Spiritual Advisor - @ethereal.1
"Identify what's causing you to be out of balance as an individual. When you are more balanced, you are able to function at a higher rate, perform better, and tap into your best qualities. Start with three (at most) that you want to address. Start with baby steps of working on your mindfulness in these areas of your everyday life. Figure out what is causing you to feel stressed or imbalanced so you can be more in the present, rather than be all over the place and focused on the past and future.
How do I best perform? I'm big on taking breaks and acknowledging when I need to take a break. I recognize that I do well under slight pressure but I don't do well when I procrastinate and put everything to the last minute. Recognize what your productivity rate is and what's best for you as far as lighting a fire under your ass and time frame. Accept and embrace that.
Don't listen to what everyone is saying about no distractions or needing background music to focus. Find your groove. You don't have to listen to what every guru has said. We're all telling you what has worked for us, but these things are guidelines. They don't have to be set in stone rules."
Recommended book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
"Recognize what your productivity rate is and what's best for you as far as lighting a fire under your ass and time frame. Accept and embrace that."
Use Food As Fuel.
Courtesy of Tierra Burrell
Tierra Burrell, Holistic Health Consultant & Entrepreneur - @tierragoesgreen
"Food is the fuel. The same way technology gives us information. Food is our internal technology. Typically in the morning, people may grab coffee, bagel or bowl of fruit.
Think: what is nature's programming? The fruit is the only thing. Nature's programming helps your brain function. It also allows your creativity, cognitive health, and imagination to take place in beautiful ways without any of the business programming.
Drink water. Water is the filtration system of life. It's the system that the Earth runs on. It's important that we get in alignment with nature. In the mornings, get a big bowl of fruit, a big smoothie or a big bowl of oatmeal. What's the point of building a brand or getting your dream job if your health is deteriorating?
Use turmeric. It is anti-inflammatory and also a brain booster. It helps balance, mindfulness, thought process and productivity. If you're sitting in an office all day and don't get to move as you should, it's great to use turmeric for brain and joint health. It's great for prevention."
Photo Credit: Pete Schiazza
Courtesy of Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts
Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts, Educator & Yoga Teacher - @chelsealovesyoga
"A lot of people say hustle hard or keep going until you're exhausted. I personally don't believe in that. One of the first principles of the Yoga Sutra is nonviolence and non-harmony. You can use yoga as a way to keep from harming yourself in the process of trying to be and do everything that we want to do in this lifetime.
Yoga allows me to pause, reflect, and be quiet and listen to my own intuition. It allows me to reconnect with myself. I can feel connection to whatever is out of alignment in my life. I'm typically not in the best or most optimal space to create if I'm not feeling balanced within my life. It's a great way for me to do a self-check, especially if I am reaching a point of burnout or need to say no to someone who is asking me to do something that I want to do but don't have the bandwidth or the rest to make it happen.
I recommend Yoganidra by Tracee Stanley - which is a practice of going between meditation and deep relaxation. This is good if you are looking to use yoga as a deep relaxation tool.
My go-to posture is Shavasana aka "Corspe's Porse". It's one of the hardest postures because it's easy for us to get caught up in our day-to-day. Shavasana is a way to reconnect to how we're feeling and what's going on in our bodies, hearts, and minds."
Recommended: Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley
Set A Timer.
Photo Credit: Phil Provencio
Courtesy of Robyn Warren
Robyn Warren, Health Coach & Educator - @geekgirlstrong
"Sometimes I set a one hour timer for responding to emails, taking a break to play video games, or working on that big project that needs to be broken down into parts. Once that time is up, it is also time to move on. You can use a timer to dictate when you are allowed to check inboxes, texts, social media, etc. Try hacking your phone. Try putting time limits on certain apps, putting your phone on grayscale, and/or just putting it out of your reach."
Originally published on February 27, 2019
Featured image courtesy of Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts