Post-It Notes Collage

Are You Living A Busy Life or a Productive One?

bust or productive life?

There has always been a great emphasis on staying “busy” (or at least looking busy). It was once seen as a surefire way to stay employed or to gain admiration from others. But a closer examination reveals that “busy work” has little value in itself.

And value is important.  Just as “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time, busy is falling out of favor while measuring productivity is becoming more vital.

This is certainly true in most professions, but what about in your own personal life?  What do you really care about?

With only a few precious hours in each day, are we using them to catch a glimpse of what we are capable of – who we are destined to be – or are we spending them shuffling papers and alphabetizing the soup cans in the pantry?

Important questions, because important desires are calling us all the time.  The inspiration to write a book or a poem. The yearning to lose the extra weight. The urge to build something of our own versus sticking with a dissatisfying job.

Is the urgency of a busy life getting in the way of a productive one? 

A text comes in. Your tires need air. A client demands an impossible deadline. Real life. But also an excuse to delay dreams one more day for the sake of another fire drill.

How do you make the leap from busy to productive? How do we start living the life that’s important to us instead of just responding to the everyday emergencies?

Think of it this way: you’re going to spend the next decade doing something.

Will you respond to what is urgent, or will you choose to pursue what is important, instead?

Is your craving to be noticed or appreciated (busy) winning out over the ability to be present and satisfied (productive)?

Become Purposeful

Of course handling responsibilities is part of life. But how long will you delay what’s important to you just so that you can handle the Next Urgent Thing in front of you? How long will you put off what productive thing you’re capable of doing, just to maintain what you’re currently doing (staying busy)?

Will you wait 12 months? Ten years? Your entire life?

If you want to start living a productive life, then choose a clear direction for yourself right now.  It takes courage to say, “This is what is important to me and I’m going after it,” but you can do it. 

Otherwise, you’ll only be living the life that other people expect you to live.

You’ll soon find that having a clear purpose and a specific goal prevents you from being sucked into the multiple vortexes of time–consuming, unimportant busy work.

A Specific Goal

A crucial point to understand is that a specific goal is different than a desire.  Wanting to get in shape is a desire, running a marathon is a specific goal. Wanting to start your own daycare center is a desire, securing the first three paying families is a specific goal.

The secret to living an important, productive life is recognizing that it will never demand your attention right now, on its own. You have to cultivate that sense of purpose and prioritize it over the long haul.

There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to normal. Abandon that notion and think more about going forward to new. Start the slow march from busy to productive by picking one thing that you care deeply about, and get started today. 

Trade frantic for focused, and you’ll be surprised how soon perfectionism gives way to purpose. 

Become a purposeful soul, instead of a busy body, and you can celebrate success for a lifetime.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Caring Action, Self-Care

Unlearning What it Means to be Productive

Felt journal to do list

The world has changed. Many of us can’t go to work. Likewise, many of us have lost our jobs. Although some of us are lucky enough to work from home, anyone who has kids is most likely homeschooling them right now at the same time! And probably for the first time ever! Let’s face it, more than just the world has changed, the very basic details of our lives have also changed. It is time to take what we have always thought about being productive, and unlearn it. Unlearning what it means to be productive.

Unlearning is a concept that comes from homeschooling, ironically enough.

It is a method of teaching children that comes from allowing them to cultivate the desire to learn, and then nurturing that. On the surface, it may not look as productive as traditional methods, because traditional methods are all about accountability and completing tasks. Yet, there is something to be said about deeper affect of allowing a child to build their own interests and then learn skills to fit those interests.

So, how do we re-frame our lives around a very different schedule and class of demands?

Some of us are juggling working, teaching, and household tasks all day. What comes first? What is most important? Work? Your child’s education? A clean and sanitary house? Making sure everyone is fed? Some days it may seem like there is too much to do, and you really haven’t accomplished a thing.

One way to start organizing tasks, goals, and objectives is to begin a good old fashioned To Do List.

Or a few To Do lists: work, kid’s school, personal. Try this one! Or this one! Get your thoughts organized about what you want to accomplish on these fronts. Start getting an idea where you are at and where you are headed on a daily basis. But don’t stop there. The next step is crucial. Make a DONE list (also available on some to-do list apps). This will help you see what you have accomplished, help you understand that your day doesn’t just go by in a blur of cooking meals, answering emails, cleaning the house, and putting on your “teacher hat” (or trying to find where you even put that thing).

Don’t omit any tasks you feel any sort of accomplishment over.

No task is too big or to small. You made a phone call! Yay! Put it on the list! You spent an hour and a half getting your kid to write three words! Yay! Put it on the list. Watched some cool YouTube videos that helped you understand how the sun works with your kids? Cool. Totally write it down. Kept everyone in the loop about an upcoming work project? Put it on the list. Everything you do is productive, in one sense or another. This will help you realize that. When you feel a sense of accomplishment, you are more likely to continue in that vein, and you will sleep better at night knowing you have done something with your day, even just one thing.

In fact, we should count ourselves very productive to even accomplish one thing on some days.

We are going through a very strange time on our planet. Many of us are experiencing a sense of loss, emotional turmoil, or just plain old stress. We need to be mindful about how bad news affects our psyche, and our body stress responses. We need to think about what can be done to put more space between what is going on in the world and how we respond to it. So, put that on your To Do list! We at UCA wish you a very productive and peaceful day, even if that means accomplishing 10 minutes of mindful breathing, a taking hot bath, or drinking a good cup of tea. Here are some ideas for self-care to put on your todo list! And click here for some work from home tips.

We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!