When I'm speaking with women about their ambitions, productivity often becomes the hot topic of conversation. We are desperate to figure out how to do more, in less time, and be more effective in our work.
As an entrepreneur with a full life and big ambitions, I get it. What I've noticed from conversations with hundreds of women, though, is that this obsessive focus on productivity often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.
We sacrifice time for ourselves (and often our family and friends) to get more stuff done. We stress over our to-do lists constantly, and answer the question "How are you?" with "Busy."
Instead of becoming more productive with our work so that we can work less, play more and feel more free, we just end up trying to cram in more-more-more work and are left with no space for fun.
As women, we are connected to the rhythm of nature in a very obvious way -- our internal tides, like the ocean, guided by the moon. In simple terms, as Alisa Vitti teaches in WomanCode, in a balanced body, we menstruate and ovulate in concert with the new and full moon.
What this means for our productivity is that we, as women, are designed to have times where we have more energy and times where we need more rest. We are not robots, and when we act like robots, stress invades our bodies and minds and we actually become less productive and more overwhelmed. When we embrace a more natural flow -- adding more life to our lives -- we feel more connected and alive.
For these reasons and more, it's essential that we find a way to get the things done we need to accomplish without sacrificing our health or happiness today. It's time to flip the script on the old paradigm of I'll-work-my-ass-off-then-finally-rest-and-play.
Productivity isn't about doing more, it's about doing better.
What I've noticed for myself and for the hundreds of women I've coached is that when we take time to enjoy our lives, we feel more focused when we get to work, and are able to get the important stuff done. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed, use one (or all) of these practices to feel more productive, playful and free in your business and life.
7 Feminine Productivity Practices
1. Uncover how you want to feel.
In her brilliant tome, The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte teaches the power of allowing our Core Desired Feelings to lead. So, how do you want to feel when you "succeed"? Begin to generate those feelings now, and you'll stop tripping on the future and start living for the now.
2. Read fiction books.
When we started dating, my man asked, "When was the last time you read fiction?" Fiction? I'm an entrepreneur, dude, I don't have time for fiction. Right. For years, I'd been reading exclusively business and self-help books, so my mind had become wired for problem-solving ... and seeing problems. His challenge for me was to read exclusively fiction for 1 year, and I'm so glad I paid attention. When I read fiction, I find my work hours more productive and my time off more relaxing. My favorite of all time? Jitterbug Perfume. Current? The Graveyard Book on audio.
3. Dine with girlfriends once each week.
As an ambitious woman, how often do you hang with your girlfriends and not talk about work? There was a period in my life when all I did was talk about my business. Needless to say, it wasn't the most pleasurable time in my life, and the focus was always on what we needed to do, rather than just being with friends. I've since made a promise to myself to have at least one dinner with girlfriends each week, to catch up on love and life, and be in the space of sisterhood together. This is true soul nourishment.
4. Celebrate your accomplishments monthly.
In the dash to do more, it's easy to forget to appreciate where we are, and all that we've created. Ambition with no appreciation falls flat and will leave you feeling dull, uninspired, desperate, and exhausted. The solution? Set a monthly date with your best friends (or new friends) to celebrate. Use this time to raise a glass to one another, toasting to your accomplishments and the people who helped you get there. Enjoy the life you have.
5. Always be on vacation.
When I pretend that every week is a vacation where I sneak in a little work, it changes everything. I usually manage to still have a near-empty inbox, have happy clients, work about four hours a day, have wonderfully lazy breakfasts and dinners with friends, and feel calm, happy and adventurous. Until further notice, go on vacation.
6. Do the task in front of you.
Overwhelm is a choice, and it starts with the stories we tell ourselves. Next time you're sitting down to work, instead of thinking of your mile-long to-do list and obsessing over stories that you'll "never get it done" or "have so much to do", focus on the task in front of you. When I feel bogged-down by all the tasks I've taken on, I tell myself, "The only thing to do right now is this", and I relax. Leave saving the world for another day, and just pay attention to what's in front of you.
7. Give yourself more time.
This is deceptively simple and surprisingly overlooked in most productivity advice: Just give yourself more time. If you plan for procrastination and create space for the unexpected, you just may breathe deeply enough to find the creativity to produce great work. If you're always up to your eyeballs in tasks, maybe it's not that you're too slow, but taking on too much. See how you can do less to accomplish more.
So the next time your ambition is in overdrive and you just want to work-work-work, try one of these practices to feel productive, playful and free. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you do better, not more.