How many articles do you think you could find online about the topic of productivity?
Go ahead, guess.
Got your number?
This is what I found when I did a Google search: 499,000,000
I can’t even begin to imagine how much time it would take to look through all of these. Until my 70th birthday maybe?
So many people write about this topic because it is so incredibly relevant to our 21st century lives.
We don’t have time.
We have heard this line so often, that there are hundreds of articles and books written about how its not a time problem, its a self-management problem.
Has anyone out there retrained herself to say something like “I haven’t made the time.” In this way we take responsibility for not getting something done, right?
If we dig into this rabbit hole, we might find that we take this to the next level and not only feel bad that we aren’t doing what want to do with the time we don’t have, but we also feel bad about not getting it done.
Frankly, I don’t have the time to over-analyze that conundrum.
And I hope you don’t either.
We don’t have the time to feel bad, angry, upset, or resentful that we didn’t make the time to get something done.
Yes, we have goals and intentions and cool things that we want to accomplish, some big and some small. We want to workout everyday. We want to read more, travel, paint, reconnect with people we haven’t talked to in months or years, build our own house.
But we don’t have the time.
The biggest heartbreak here is that the stuff we say we don’t have the time for is the stuff that will bring more joy to our lives.
We don’t have the time to be joyful? To feel satisfaction with our life? To appreciate beauty? To get our hands dirty and create?
To connect with people we love?
If we don’t have the time for those things, what are we making time for?
Jobs that leave us feeling crappy or worse, are in conflict with our personal values.
Relationships that leave us feeling emotionally empty.
Material things that do not bring the level of satisfaction that we want with our lives.
An email inbox that is never empty and is often full of questions the writer could find answers to on his or her own (sample answer: it’s in the syllabus – sorry, years of being a college professor and that is my favorite one-line response).
The list could go on and on. We make time and space for things in our lives that we feel like we have to do, but what about the things that will make us happy? We can choose to be happy….right?
What would make you feel a deep level of satisfaction in your life?
How can you experience more joy?
Whether its more time for art, learning to cook, or training for a marathon, there is one small reality that is the key to this whole thing.
To make room in your life for what makes you experience more joy, you have to be willing to give up that which doesn’t.
Yup, something’s got to go. But how do you decide? Its not uncommon for many of us to really have no idea how we spend our time, or how much time we spend on activities that take our attention away from making choices that bring us more joy.
Check out this simple formula for generating joy – how does this apply to your life?
Step one: Clarity. Be really clear about your own joy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to feel good every single day. And it starts with being as crystal clear as possible about what you want to do that you aren’t already doing. If you don’t feel joy on a regular basis, what is missing? (Keep in mind that what might be missing is free space. Some of us just have too much going on and simply letting a few things go will increase our level of joy.) Is it an activity or a person you would like more of in your life? Or is it a mindset shift that needs to happen in order for you to change your perspective?
Step two: Attention. Pay attention to how you spend your time. Really think about it. How much time does it take you to get ready in the morning? Drive to work? Pick up kids? What is filling the hours of your day? Write it down for a couple of days and be sure to include meal prep, cleaning, time on social media, waiting in line at the deli, etc.
Step three: Reflect. Review where your energy is being spent and think about what you’d like to get off your plate. This requires that you be really honest with yourself. If you watch three or four hours of TV a night, what would be able to change about your life if you cut that time in half? Or even eliminated it altogether? If you are working in a job that leaves you feeling drained and just icky while you’re there, what will it take to change that feeling?
(I once worked in a building where everything was gray. Carpet, walls, and the institutional furniture in our cubbies. It took me some time to figure out why I felt dismal within seconds of entering the building, but when my colleague got flowers delivered for her birthday, my spirits soared immediately. I needed more color and pretty things around me. And I hadn’t decorated my space because it was a cubicle and felt so impersonal. As soon as I brought in some pictures, quotes, and a couple pieces of art, the space felt better and I could get through the day without feeling so blah at the end of it. Sometimes its not the job – the actual work – but the space you’re in, the commute, etc.)
Step four: Decide. Decide what you want to take off your plate and replace with an activity or habit that brings you more joy. This can be really challenging, especially if we live with people we take care who rely on us, and we take care of most everything. So, if your life does not seem to allow you to get rid of the things that leave you unsatisfied, your next question is…
What activities can I move to another time of day that won’t leave me feeling so drained?
The answer to this question has kept me a happy mom for six years now. I despise cleaning. In every way. I don’t enjoy laundry, picking up toys, dishes, etc. And I know I’m not alone.
Kids are awesome and I adore mine, but with kids comes more messes and more attention needs to be given to cleaning up. So, the kids are responsible for cleaning their own stuff up (it took awhile to get everyone on board with this) and I only clean, fold laundry, etc. at the end of the day. After I have had time to do the things that I need to experience joy in my life. For me, thats reading time with the kids, exercising, cooking, and writing.
The end of the day is not a high energy time for me, or for a lot of people. So, I use that time to get done the tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking and that usually leave me feeling tired anyway. Make sense?
Step five: EnJOY! Do what brings you joy! If the idea of one hour of free time a day makes you happy, then do it! Make that hour for yourself. Chances that someone else is going to do it for you are slim to none. It is totally do-able, and totally worth it.
So, what will you do that brings more joy to your life? Leave a comment below to let us know so we can cheer you on!
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.