One Bag Nation

Posts Tagged ‘productivity

busydesktopMany of us have a lot to do around the holidays. Despite my attempt to plan a more frugal and simple holiday season for my family, I still have long to do lists. I’m not feeling stressed, though. I found a great way to get my tasks done without feeling completely overwhelmed.

The idea was inspired by Marelisa at Abundance Blog, who first introduced me to the concept of “micromovements” a while back, and she wrote about it again recently in a post about productivity. All it means is that you break down projects into very small pieces, and work away, little by little, until the project is finished.

Each day I’ve reviewed my holiday list, and identified something – even just a tiny something – I could accomplish, .

Some examples: one day I took inventory of our holiday cards, and another day I ordered stamps.

One day I pulled out my holiday cooking binder and located all the recipes I’m planning to use; another day I bought canning jars and cello bags.

One day I got out the patterns for the knitting projects I wanted to do; another day I put yarn, needles and patterns together into tote bags so I could easily grab them when I had time to knit.

By committing to do a little something every day I’ve managed to chip away at my list pretty efficiently. I also set aside a couple of days for shopping and errands, and I’ll be doing that again tomorrow, hopefully for the last time this season.

Micromovements have really made a difference for me this year, and if you need help managing everything you’re trying to accomplish right now, give it a try!

If you have other holiday survival tips or tricks, please share!


Stress or Anxiety!

Funny how “just doing it” – whatever “it” is – makes for a much better day. Today I got up early and powered through a bunch of to-do’s before my girl was even up. Once I got her to school, I gave myself 30 minutes of online time, and then I got to work (at my paying job). I took a 30-minute break to make lunch, throw in some laundry, do a couple of 5-minute Room Rescues, a “swish and swipe” in the bathroom, and make a pot of tea for my afternoon work session. I left a bit early to pick up my daughter so I could do a couple of errands on the way, and now here I am, Backyardigans and snoring cat in the background with a few quiet moments to blog. Looking forward to heading downstairs soon for a well-deserved glass of wine . . .ahhhh.

Today I sat down to finally tackle the piles you see in the photo. My inbox was a cluttered mess and it was time to get serious!

Some of what I had to do was busy work: enter email addresses into my address book; move my to-do’s from sticky notes and index cards to my master notebook; register for a freebie from credo; transfer money from savings to checking, stamp and mail bills, etc. etc.

I was thinking that some of these tasks are the kind of thing I put off because I don’t mind doing them; sort of a “save the best for last” kind of thing. What actually happens is that they never get done, and then become a source of anxiety.

Today I decided to tackle the pile from the top down, and whatever came next I would do, regardless of whether it was something I could do “later”, or seemed trivial; after all, if it was in my inbox I thought it needed doing at some point or other.

Now that the pile is gone, I feel so productive – and I can enjoy my date with my husband tonight all the more.

Nothing like an empty inbox and a clear desk to inspire romance!

Today Dustin Wax at posted about Productivity Myths that can hold you back.

For example, Myth #4: Productivity Means More Work

I’m with Dustin on this one: to me, the beauty of being truly productive is that you get more time for fun and relaxation, not that you try to cram more work into less time.

While it’s true that I may have the World’s Longest To Do List, if I have a really focused and productive day, I give myself a pat on the back and pick up my knitting, read a book, hang out with family and friends, go to bed early, etc.

I don’t hurry over to my list, eagerly looking for more stuff to do!

What do you think? Is being productive an end in itself for you, or does being productive spur you on to do more? Do you feel that fear of having to do more work stops you from becoming more productive?

Call me a slacker, but this resistance to being productive never occurred to me! And check out the article; it offers some other interesting ideas.

A while back I wrote about My Big Rocks, inspired by Stephen Covey in First Things First, and Leo at Zen Habits.

This week I accomplished a huge goal: I got a new job!

I’ve been working at a job for two years that’s been making me miserable, anxious and depressed. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why, then decided I needed to focus more on just making a change. I was in the middle of interviewing life coaches, when a friend sent me a job announcement she thought I’d be interested in – and I got the job!

I’m so thrilled. It’s a wonderful organization that raises money to improve the public schools in our area – a cause near and dear to my heart.

This really kills two rocks with one stone (mixed-up metaphor there); not only did I find a more satisfying and challenging job, but I won’t have to force myself to work anymore – I might even look forward to it! So . . . my third rock is still my decluttering and organizing quest, and while I’ve made decent progress there, there’s plenty more to be done! I hope that this new beginning will give me even more energy for my journey to order, serenity and peace of mind.

Of course it does!

If there’s something lurking in my To Do pile that makes me want to run, chances are it’s something I’ve been avoiding for a while. If I decide to put if off again, I’ll get momentary relief – phew! – glad I don’t have to deal with that today.

But what happens in the long-run? The next time I see that task needing attention, I’ve added guilt and even more anxiety to the equation; now I really want to run. Maybe the problem has gotten bigger, maybe I’ve missed a deadline – mostly I just feel awful that I’ve let whatever it is go too long.

Today I faced my anxiety about a couple of things I’ve been avoiding. Keeping Neil Fiore’s wise words in mind, I took care of the anxiety and the tasks – and just got them done!

Although it’s very tempting to give in to the instant gratification of putting things off, I know that it erodes my confidence and my self-esteem, and makes me feel like my life is out of control. Procrastination is definitely not the path to serenity . . . .

Earlier today I indulged in a bit of a poor me post about losing sight of my goals and disliking my day job. I spend more time thinking about how much I dislike it and trying to avoid it than I do working. And the truth is, once I get started it’s not all that bad, especially compared to the anxiety and guilt I feel about not working.

So . . . I had a little Come to Jesus Meeting with myself this evening and decided that I need to JUST DO IT, as the famous saying goes. Our family depends on the income, the work itself could be a lot worse, and ultimately all this procrastinating is bad for my state of mind. Neil Fiore says in The Now Habit:

Trying to escape work by procrastinating will only increase your anxiety; only work will diminish [it] . . . the only thing that really helps is to start working.

Well said, so true – for me anyway. And ironically, what I do is write about food . . . I like to write, at least here, and I love to cook and eat and read and talk about food, so I can’t figure out why this is so painful for me.

My goal is to work (a measly) minimum of 10 hours each week. Starting tomorrow I’ll aim for 2 hours a day, even if it means I work for just five minutes at a stretch – no, just kidding! Instead I’ll follow Neil Fiore’s advice and work for 30 minutes at a stretch. And in between 30-minute work sessions I can spend 5 minutes dealing with the basement project.

My blog will be my witness, and you, dear readers are welcome to cheer me on.