Since I came to Bali and joined a co-working space and startup community to build my own business, I noticed that many struggle to keep their productivity going at a steady pace. They work hard on grasping new concepts in an attempt to connect all the dots at once and come up with a brilliant business idea. Then they face obstacles and begin to question if their brilliant idea was actually that brilliant in the first place. And in order to prove to themselves that they were right, they just throw themselves into work almost mindlessly, until sooner or later they crash in exhaustion and loose motivation to carry on. What once was a passionate affair has now become a love and hate relationship.
Over-productivity became burnout.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As a life coach, I look at the person as a whole. We have bodies that need to eat, sleep and be taken care of because they form the basis of what carries us through life, that give birth to great ideas and their manifestations in this world. As biological beings, we need social interactions to feel loved and we need to feel that we are contributing to something greater. And yes, we do need to feel challenged once in a while, but we also need a certain level of security in order to thrive and be happy. By neglecting these needs we loose touch with our inner voice that usually points out to what is right and wrong for us, in life and in business. Therefore, it is most important to make space regularly and listen to our gut. It’ll tell us how much is enough and when to step back, take a rest and reflect on the next steps. Because only this way do we enjoy the process and stay continuously productive with what it is that we are creating.
One way of doing this is to learn how and when your body works — acknowledging your biorhythm. Some people can’t get their teeth apart in the morning while others jump out of bed singing, exercising, meditating, eating healthy breakfasts and reading the news. Reportedly, some of the most successful entrepreneurs and politicians have morning routines starting as early as 4 am! However, this doesn’t have to be you. Every body works differently. Some don’t get going until noon and have their productive mind on fire by nighttime, working away into the early morning hours. The only way to find out what works for you is by experimenting with it. I, for example, have my highest motivation to get things rolling before noon, whereas I struggle doing anything related to work after dawn. Also, I have noticed that exercise or extended meetings in the morning break my productivity. Therefore, I schedule exercise and meetings for the afternoons and evenings as much as I can. Key is to adjust your days in a way that allows you to focus on the most important tasks during your peak hours of productivity and schedule simple tasks such as administration for non-peak times. And most importantly, plan in some time for recreation, friends and family as those times nurture your connection to yourself as a basis to keep your productivity going at a healthy, steady level.
Once you’ve figured out which times of the day work best for which activity, it is time to look at your specific tasks. Which ones need to be done urgently? Which ones can wait or even be delegated? This is where apps such as Trello or Evernote come into play. They allow you to organise your tasks and ideas all in one place. Every night I write up my task schedule for the next day while adding less important tasks to a list of things to be completed later that week. This way, I feel relaxed and in control of my world. The tasks are out of my head and neatly fixed somewhere to remember later. As a result, I sleep much better and wake up fresh and motivated as I know exactly what to do.
At this point, I would like to suggest a book that I came across while building my business: Zen to Done by Leo Babauda. I found it particularly interesting as it suggests implementing new productivity habits one at a time for lasting change rather than doing it all at once and burning out over something that was meant to make your life easier. Nothing in his approach is rigid, but integrative to your natural flow of life, aiming at implementing new habits to increase your productivity and ultimately leading to an overall more happy and relaxed life.
Now it’s time to put it all together. Once you’ve adjusted your daily schedule to your biorhythm, things will already feel easier and less energy-consuming because they are done at the right time for you. The second step is to sort through and put down your tasks according to priority. This is best done during the day and before bed so that you can put your head to rest and catch some nurturing sleep. Over time, you’ll optimise your working procedures in a way they work for you specifically. This goes hand in hand with implementing new habits that increase your productivity.
From my coaching practice I know how important accountability is when it comes to implementing new habits and sticking to goals. So why not find an accountability buddy, a friend who has similar goals, to check-in on each other once a week and share your experiences throughout the process.
In the end, you’ll work most efficiently because you are following your natural flow while keeping your mind and body free and open.
Let life inspire you!
Helene Weiss was born and raised in Germany, she first followed her urge to constantly grow by going to China and Syria, conquering Chinese and Arabic. She then fought a kickboxing fight in Syria, wrote articles in Australia, campaigned with a political party in Germany, mastered her Master’s in London, communicated solutions for international conflict in Brussels and helped Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Yet, most jobs left her feeling gloomy and unsure, desk-work feeling physically painful and office politics draining her of life.
When Helene started working with the Syrians, however, she suddenly began to discover something new. She loved how actively she could make a difference to peoples’ lives, whilst giving hope and providing options. She loved receiving so much love in return! Organisational politics, bureaucracy, and the cubicle world were still downers, yet now Helene knew what it is that drives her: her passion for life, her passion for people, and her passion to help others make a shift towards the light.
Today, Helene is running her own business helping people transform their lives and facilitating intercultural dialogue between the Arab and the Western worlds. Life is short and precious, so why not make the most of it?