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The problem with productivity hacks is that they hack my productivity.
My mind becomes cluttered with tips and tricks. I become a confused mess of shoulds, woulds and coulds. I feel ashamed that I can't get them to work. What's wrong with me? These tricks work for the entire readership of Medium, except me!
There's some great advice being dished out for sure, if you are a robot. If you do this, then this will happen; if you work like this, this then you will get these results. If you are a human however, these tricks may work for a while but once the monotony of having hacked the life and soul out of your existence has set in - where is there to go?
That's what happened to me a few months ago. In the middle of our Shores revamp, I was in a great place creatively and with good momentum and flow, and then a couple of serious family situations came out of the blue and stopped me in my tracks.
There is no advice that can help you in those situations. You deal with what is right in front of you and all else goes out of the window.
I didn't make it in to the office for almost a month, and even when I returned I had personal things that needed dealing with that took up my time and energy. When the dust had settled it felt like my momentum had ground to a standstill, I then found that it wasn't easy to rediscover it.
In the past I had gone at it all guns blazing hoping to rediscover that spark, but inevitably burnt out too quickly or then suddenly lost intensity. Those previous experiences had taught me thankfully though that patience was the key to rediscovering my joy.
I was also wise enough to know that feeling guilty about it wasn't going to help either, it would take time and as long as I kept showing up each day and kept on walking the path and trusting my intentions, then eventually I would start to build some genuine momentum and the creativity would begin to flow again.
There wasn't a single hack in the world that could have given me any genuine momentum again though. It had to come from me, from my heart, from sincerity, from honesty, and not from a checklist, a five step process or from chest beating affirmations prescribed by online productivity gurus.
The other aspect that helped me more than anything was the team of people around me. The guys and gals here in the business inspired me immensely. They understood my situation and allowed me space. They worked continuously to keep building towards our shared goals, and their successes inspired me back to action and drove me on to try to get back to contributing alongside them.
What it comes down to for me is trusting in the process of life. This is a deep letting go of control and also a deep acceptance of what is. When life hits you between the eyes, you soon realise that you aren't in as much control of your life as you believed anyway, that idea of control is just an illusion we like to convince ourselves of in order to feel more secure. In the letting go you have to sit back and watch. Although this sounds like adopting a passive role in your life or the running of your business, it's actually a very proactive approach because you are essentially taking the time to stop, look and listen to your life and your work. Your perspective becomes clearer. Your judgement is more refined. Your priorities are better arranged.
I feel clearer and sharper again now. I've still got a long way to go but more so than ever before I trust myself and the people around me that it all works out, in good time.
I'm not going to waste my time or fill my head with any hacks or tips either from now on. I've realised that there isn't any joy in trying to beat the system anyway - being a real human being with genuine feelings and emotions is far more valuable to me creatively anyway, much more so than the seemingly empty concept of beating yourself up relentlessly in the name of getting more done quickly.