It's easy–or maybe just easier–to be productive when things are firing on all cylinders and all's right in our world. But what happens when that's not the case, when in the midst of one of life's “storms” you get up in the morning and look at your schedule or your to-do list and think “I just can't even . . .”? Sometimes life throws us a curve. What do we do then?
Sometimes Life Doesn't Cooperate
When your world is falling apart or life is beating up on you, and you've lost all motivation or ability to focus, how do you cope and still accomplish what you need to?
Honestly, I've been experiencing that the past few weeks. So what follows are some thoughts I've come up with. Not the advice of an expert, but just what I'm telling myself as I work through the issues complicating my world right now. Maybe they'll help you. Or maybe you can offer some suggestions I haven't thought of.
1. Redefine productivity.
The world may define productivity in terms of how many things we check off our to-do list. Even in the best of times, I reject that definition. My definition of productivity is evolving, but right now I define it as making the best of our time and our lives, contributing the most to the world around us, building and nourishing the best relationships–in a phrase, making a life that matters. In the worst of times, maybe productivity needs to be defined in how well, how grace-fully (as in “full of grace”) we get through the day, maintaining a positive attitude and being a positive influence on the people around us.
2. Re-evaluate what's necessary.
As we've discussed before, there is value in becoming more selective about the things we do and the commitments we take on. But when your world is falling apart, it's even more important to take a hard look at your life and cut to the bone. Cut projects, commitments, people who contribute to the problem, inputs (TV shows? Facebook?) that create a negative environment. Do only what you must and let everything else wait.
Stress is when your gut says no, and your mouth says yes.”
Author and productivity expert Julie Morgenstern on Twitter
3. Clear the decks.
Clutter (both physical and mental) drains and distracts. When you're struggling or overwhelmed anyway, creating a clean, clear, simple environment becomes even more important.
4. Get help.
Reach out to the trusted few friends who can provide moral and practical support. Get professional help if you need it. If you can, hire help for tasks or projects that you can't face right now. You don't have to weather life's storms alone.
5. Give yourself a break.
Both literally and figuratively. Stress, trauma, drama, and illness are hard on the body, the mind, and the soul. Sleep, or at least rest, become even more important. But you also need to give yourself a figurative break. Lower your standards (for now); just do the minimum needed to get through the day. Let yourself off the hook; you are not responsible for fixing every problem or making everybody happy. And give yourself credit for the things you're doing right and for even the smallest effort.
6. Feed your soul.
Figure out what nourishes you on the inside, and make time for it.
7. Retrain your thinking.
Focus on the positive. I'm not saying you should ignore how you feel or present the negative doesn't exist. But I believe that in any situation there is something to be grateful for. Even if it's just that I'm not dead yet.
8. Ask yourself smart questions that can help focus on improving your future.
Take some time to think through the situation and evaluate:
* What's in my control?
* What isn't?
* What's the most important think I can do right now?
* Am I taking care of myself?
* What are my choices?
* Will this matter 5 years from now?
These and more really helpful thoughts in “10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Stay Positive When Facing Difficulties.”
What do you think?
Do you have a coping mechanism or approach to crisis I didn't think of? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.
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