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How Wellness Enthusiasts Approach Productivity Differently

Wellness

At the top of most people's personal resolution list 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 "lifehack frenzy" – Googling every productivity solution known to mankind. This usually starts with a week of "results" and ends with a forgotten resolution 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 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."

Recommended books: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, Becoming by Michelle Obama

"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]."

Recommended books: The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, Light On Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar, Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith

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."

Recommended books and supplements: Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson, Vegucation Over Medication by Dr. Bobby Prince, TierraGoesGreen supplements

Seek Alignment.

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

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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