From CEO’s to entrepreneurs and entertainers to parents all over the globe, we are constantly in search of ways to boost productivity. To put it simply, we want to get more done each day. For some this goal is rooted in the desire for greater abundance while for others, productivity is the gate-keeper to recreation. It is a means to an end and we are hungry for both the freedom and prosperity that productivity provides. The problem with the “work harder and longer” approach is that it often yields the unattractive side-effects of exhaustion, stress and a lop-sided life. Adopting a spiritual approach to productivity may actually facilitate greater productivity and energize us more quickly than downing a can of Red Bull.
The terms “spiritual” and “productivity” seem to contradict each other. One emphasizes our non-physical nature while the other is rooted in mastering the work of the physical world. Allowing these terms to work together in our lives creates the much-needed synergy we desire to move through life with energy and purpose. This is the force that magically has us generating inspired ideas and then gives us the very energy we need to implement those gems. When “being” works with “doing”, we allow a dynamic coupling which results in a do-be-do-be-do that is better than anything Frank Sinatra ever crooned. This is the essence of our human experience.
If you are clear on your values and vision, your work is plugged into a limitless energy source. Meaningful priorities will illuminate your path and keep you from mindlessly traveling up a side street that dead-ends in inefficiency. Honoring your values and intentionally stepping toward a clear vision are two forces that fuel our ability and desire to “do”. This premise is simply our “square one” or beginning point, and encourages us to go further.
Entertain these suggestions to tweak your productivity:
Delegate: If during a storm a tree fell on your garage , crushing both your roof and car, you would likely get on the phone to round-up support for your desired outcome and arrange necessary clean-up and repair. You would be quite clear on your vision and you would enlist the help of your insurance company, a tree-cutting service, a roofer, and a towing company. It would be ludicrous to attempt to do each of these on your own. And so it goes with your life and work. When you delegate effectively you allow people with talents and gifts different from yours to handle things you don’t have time to do, you dislike doing, or you are less than efficient at doing.
Move your Body: We are quite good at engaging our brains in a lively mental workout, but may overlook the much-needed workout for the heart. On a spiritual level, adequate exercise is critical if you want both the mind and the heart engaged in all of your pursuits.
Substitute Dynamism for Balance: Life-balance is overrated and just a notch above death. Call up a memory when you used a balancing scale back in school. When the scales were balanced, there was complete stillness. Life does not play out like that for most of us. We are constantly allowing an ebb in one area of life, so it can flow to another when needed. Embrace the idea that there are times your family will need you most, a project will be calling out for extra time or your physical body will send you signals that it is time for a vacation, and you will have to adjust. That is real life dynamism.
Tap your contacts and connections as resources: There are people on your contact’s list right now that have done what you want to do. Even if their business is different, their goals are varied and personal life the polar opposite of yours; use these contacts. Use who you know to glean guidance, learn shortcuts and point you to resources that would otherwise take you years to discover. Query your contacts to learn everything from how to form a charitable foundation to how to create an ebook. There is an untapped reservoir of information (and shortcuts) available to you for the asking.
Sleep: Countless research studies confirm that 6-8 hours of sleep is necessary for your body and mind to be it’s absolute best. In order to be your best, to do your best and to produce your best, adequate rest is key.
Capture Inspiration: Mini-tape recorders and pocket journals are terrific tools to record divine nudges that will advance your work, goals, and highest good. Keep a specific journal that you have designated for ideas, intuitive hunches and insights. Often these flashes of clarity will come to us while settling for bed, waiting at a red light, or walking the dog. Oftentimes these divine nuggets fade away quicker than they arrive, but not if they are quickly captured and recorded so they may be acted on in the future.
Journal: Make it a practice each evening to write the priority tasks for the following day. Meticulous planning helps edge out the distractions that take us further from our desired daily goals. Be mindful that even with the best plans there is always a place for flexibility and intuition when implementing our daily priority tasks. You may decide to reschedule the dinner meeting after work and get a much-needed massage instead.
Nutrition: Food is spiritual. In a spiritual sense, food is alive and made of atoms just as you are—and when it’s ingested, those atoms join the atoms that make up y-o-u. Be vigilant with what you allow to merge with your physical body.
Believe in the power of small things: Many years ago an American Airlines flight attendant noticed that most first-class customers did not eat the olive on the salad offered to them on flights. When she told the higher-ups, they decided to omit the olives from the salads. Over the course of just one year they saved over a half a million dollars from that small adjustment. Small things add up. If you allocate a little time each day to further a desired outcome, know that the cumulative effect could have massive results over time.
Habits: We are creatures that find comfort in our habits.This is good thing if we are talking about going for an early morning jog each day, but sometimes our habits become detrimental and even pointless. How many people hold a Monday afternoon meeting, not because there was something important to discuss, but simply because it was Monday? When deciding which habits to nix and which to continue, consider asking this one simple question: “Does this habit make me stronger and support my values and goals?” When you ask this question, you’ll find your true north is clearly marked.
Productivity comes from the cumulative choices we make each day and not just the obvious decision to sit at your desk, build relationships, engage in meetings and check off the to-do list. Who you are being is weaved into all it is that you are doing every day. Be mindful that, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is more to life than just increasing its speed.”
Rena M. Reese is the founder of Soul Salon International, an inspirational multimedia company which offers coaching and consulting, web-design, publishing support, and fundraising opportunities for individuals and groups. She is the author of several inspirational titles, a professional speaker and coach as well as the host of a weekly radio program, The Soul Salon. Please visit www.SoulSalonInternational.com and connect with her on Twitter @TheSoulSalon and facebook too.