This is how I became a high-productivity individual…
How do I get so much done?
To a lot of people, I look like a high-productivity individual – one of those people who just seems to get a lot of stuff done.
And I’m proud of that. When I say I’m going to do something, it gets done. When people hear me say I’ll do something, they can consider it did.
(That trust opens a lot of doors, let me tell you. A reputation as a ‘doer’ is worth the investment.)
Even when I’m travelling or on the road, I’m still hitting my obligations, clearing out my to-do list.
What’s the secret?
Well, probably the biggest one is something I can’t actually help you with: experience.
The longer you’ve been engaged in productive activity, the better you get at it. No secret sauce here. The more time you spend driving projects, hitting your goals, meeting deadlines, managing your work-flow, the better you get at doing it.
Suffice to say, there’s no way I could have achieved the kinds of productivity levels I hit these days in my twenties – no way. Even with all that crazy hormonal energy pumping through my veins!
And so some people look at how many deals I do in a year and think, omg! But same story. It gets easier every time. You learn the tricks. You learn the shortcuts. You stop reinventing wheels.
So there’s specific industry experience, and there’s general productivity experience. No way to get those except put in the hours.
What else? Well, another key point is knowing where my limits are. I don’t take on projects unless I know I can deliver. I manage my input carefully.
That’s partly about delivering on my promises, but it’s also about keeping the whole ship on an even keel. If a project goes wonky and starts chewing up your hours – you have to pull a few late nights in a row to get it across the line, say – then that can derail other areas of your life. You’re not sleeping well, so you make some bad decisions. The hubby is pissy that he’s missing his cuddle times, and so the relationship requires a bit of attention. You get the idea.
We need to be constantly on guard against calling chaos into our life.
It’s just too easy to do. There is always going to be more to do than there are hours in the day.
And particularly as you start developing a reputation as a high-productivity individual, people will start coming to you with more and more exciting projects.
So manage your workflow. Practice saying ‘No’.
The third point is learning to manage life with a light touch.
This point isn’t super-easy to explain. What I mean is that energy is constantly moving. Try to keep it moving. Don’t let it stagnate anywhere.
They say this about the human body in Chinese medicine. Disease occurs where energy blocks up. Same story in the productive life.
For example, I used to manage my life with a bit of a heavy touch. So an email would come in, and I’d read it. Then digest it. Then come back the next day and read it again. Then still try and figure out what to do. Then come back in three or four days and spend an hour drafting something. Read it, hate it, do it over. Finally, send something off.
By the end, it was ‘perfect’ but it took a lot more time than necessary.
These days, I give it a light touch. When it lands, deal with it. Touch it once. Respond to what I can. If something needs more time, reply and tell them I need more time.
Give it a light touch. Take the energy that comes, and lightly redirect it where it needs to go.
To me, this is also an embodied experience. When I’m working with a light touch, I’m working with my hands. Things come, and my hands deal with them, send them on their way.
When I’m not, things get past my hands and into my body. I take on their heaviness. They become a burden I carry around until I can discharge them.
This process, I’ve learnt, has limits.
So if you want to get a lot of stuff done, you need to learn strategies for making sure things don’t get past your defences. They don’t get past your hands and become a burden.
(I’m re-reading this and thinking that I must sound like some sort of Qi Gung Ninja on a lap-top. But the English language doesn’t really have all the tools I need. I am post-language.)
Actually, it’s also a bit like judo, isn’t it? You don’t resist your opponent’s force, you redirect it. It’s kind of like that. I didn’t realise I had so much in common with the martial arts. Maybe I’ll start dividing up my training materials into belt colour.
But make it light, let it come easy. Keep working with the energy. Wax on, wax off.
And you too can be a high-productivity ninja.
How do you develop a light-touch life?