Without fail. Whether for real work or some serious Pinterest browsing, as soon as I fire up my home desktop, it happens.
Soon enough my load times start slowing, my clicking gets much more forceful, and my patience drops faster than my weakened wi-fi signal.
"Who is stealing my bandwidth?" I howl as I blast out of the room, stepping on legos and tripping over a shoe and a dog at the same time.
Now, looking past the screentime parenting guilt glaring back at me, and that I probably need to upgrade my Internet speed around here, it's an analogy to real life.
Energy vs. Time vs. Motivation
Even the most motivated people fight against finite energy and ability to accomplish all that’s needed and wanted, within a given timeframe. Not to mention the umpteen outside factors ready to zap your vibes.
We say, "there’s not enough time." Sometimes the hours can be too much in a day when we spend our mental and physical energy too early.
And, for us most fortunate out there, we waste our critical thinking juice on the not-so-vital stuff. Ex. trying to decide what to wear in the morning; or consuming, processing and reacting to the drama of others via social media.
So what, or who, exactly are all these negative time and energy suckers?
And why are they getting the best of you, while the important stuff gets the rest of you.
Sometimes we need gently reminded, and sometimes we need forcefully nudged. This is a nudging.
Here are 10 ways to push for more productivity, and protect your precious bandwidth in the process.
1. Draw Your Boundaries, and Defend Them
Boundaries are about respect for yourself and others you care about. There are experts out there, and a series of bestselling books, so I won’t go into details other than to make them real and remind yourself often.
It’s not enough to say NO more often unless you’re willing to hold your lines.
Also, stop letting people pick your brain, and waste your time. Or in the least find an alternative (and more answers via FastCompany). And be respectful and cognizant of when you’re asking that of others. Mutually beneficial opportunities and symbiotic relationships reign supreme: if you’re willing to do your homework and think bigger than the urgent need at hand.
Guess what else? Contrary to popular belief, sending an email about something you need, is not a transfer from your to-do list. You may think the ball is in their court, but if you aren’t an active player, that ball will drop quickly in priority.
2. Write it ALL Down
Most swear by writing out their major goals to make them visible and get them done. I’ve tried this before and it worked against me because they were too broad, and felt like constant reminders of what I wanted, but without how to get it.
What works for me is writing everything I need to do down, to the smallest of details, and even the automatic stuff I would do anyway in the course of the day. I do check in to the big picture goals and metrics regularly, but live daily in my own minutia.
For some reason, it all becomes more manageable and feels like progressive achievements.
It also helps me to find out where my time is being spent, and to "eat the frog," or get done and out the way the most difficult or dreaded of tasks first (horrible saying; good intention).
Don't try to get enough sleep, eat right, and exercise. Those words sound exhausting in themselves. Make these concepts more relatable and realistic in your life by reframing the context.
Rest because it will renew and refresh, to feel better, be a more effective person and collaborator, and make sound decisions.
Fuel your body with food that boosts and sustains your energy levels.
Move in a way that feels good for you and doesn’t leave you in a state of pain, exhaustion or dread for the next time. She in the CLE co-founder Amy Martin said it best in her post “How I Crushed 40!”: “I was going to move more. Notice I didn’t say diet — but move.”
4. Multiply Your Time
Not to be confused with multitasking, I learned about the concept of multipliers in a leadership training class and try to use whenever I can.
For example, like the last point, plan for family or friend bike rides to combine quality time with physical activity. Or get others involved in meal time preparations, or watch a movie together while you fold laundry. Pay your bills waiting for the doctor. Get creative.
Remove yourself (occasionally or whenever you can) from all that's expected of you, including required responsibilities you've grown to loathe, and the dastardly grips of social media consumption.
See more tips in this Influencive post, Treat Yourself to a Productivity Breakthrough with These Secrets from an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur by Brian D. Evans.
To new experiences, people, etc. to break up the monotony of a schedule, challenge yourself to new ideas, and open your heart and mind to new relationships, no matter how big or small.
7. Serve Others
There are those in your life who demand project updates, or juice boxes, or snuggle time: they will get that of you every day.
I'm talking about service outside of the norm. Think about making an impact, even very small, on the life of another, with nothing expected in return. Consider this quote from an excerpt by poet David Whyte: “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”
8. Visit Your Happy Place
If this makes you think of the movie Happy Gilmore, you’d be right. Can you think back to a time or experience when you felt authentic, free, joyful? Is there a way you can associate these feelings with your present day activities to lessen the blow, and put more energy behind tasks? I created an 80s/90s Nostalgia YouTube mix that never fails to perk me up.
I'm horrible at this. Read this awesome post by author Jocelyn K. Glei instead: Take a Load Off: The Missing Key to Productivity Is Reflection
10. Get Real
For me, it's a reality that the more I want to do, achieve, and experience, well simply, I'm not getting more than the standard 24 hours per day to do it.
I can wake up earlier than everyone else before the technology sneak attack, or I can be more thoughtful in how I look at each phase of the day, week, month or season in my life.
I learned early, and gratefully, the concept of “one chair at a time.” I don’t remember the source, and can’t find the original article, however the concept has stuck with me.
You have to be the best you, where you sit or stand, at that given moment. It helps you focus, perform and refresh for the next challenge ahead.
What works for me might work for you, or possibly the complete opposite. Maybe you’ve been stretched beyond your earthly capacities and entering superhuman status — and I’d believe it.
Perhaps it's time to borrow some capacity from others and ask for help, or when it's your turn, lend some of your own.
We're not perfect, and won't get it all done. But we can become rather amazing in the process.
Our bandwidths might be unreliable, but with your heart in the right place, the signals you send out to the world will be as strong as ever.
image source: unsplash
Christina Capadona-Schmitz (@ChristinaCS & @DownWithSpitUp) leads marketing communications for Oswald Companies, a risk management and financial services company in Cleveland, Ohio. She is on the clock 24/7 with her parenting resource blog www.DownWithSpitUp.com, among other creative pursuits and community endeavors. Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinacapadonaschmitz.