“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ~ Seth Godin
That’s the goal, isn’t it?
Like most of us, I used to believe peaceful moments were reserved for weekends or after hours. I thought that being productive (busy) was about how much work I could squeeze into eight hours: how quickly I could check off tasks and reach my goals. When it came to content creation, I’d exhaust myself with ridiculous amounts of “busy” activities, which, looking back now, seems so frivolous.
(If you knew how much time I spent creating pins and scheduling them on Tailwind, you’d be horrified).
There’s a lot of advice out there telling us to do more.
To put in 100 hours a week, instead of 40. To take on all the things so we can prove that we’re a “team player.” We’re told to keep going, to show up, to stay consistent – no matter what.
Who cares about our well-being, right?
Honestly, when I see blogs or video posts on productivity, I feel a bit nauseated.
Because to me, most of it encourages us to sacrifice our well-being and work ourselves into the ground. And here’s the kicker: Instead of telling us outright to be busier, we’re encouraged to be more productive.
We’re told to never waste time and to try all the productivity hacks: including skimping on sleep.
All of this so we can stand out and be more successful than the next person.
And that right there is some dangerous advice to spread.
Without quality sleep, we put ourselves at risk for serious health issues, like heart disease and diabetes. Beyond that, we’re looking at accelerated ageing skin (not really ideal in our appearance-focused society). Then we have plummeting immunity and energy levels, lack of concentration, and fluctuating moods that probably make us far from delightful to be around.
So thanks, but I think I’ll stick with my sleep routine as it is.
Our energy isn’t unlimited
I used to be overly ambitious.
For most of my career in my 20s and 30s, I was all about productivity and doing as much as humanly possible. When my mom died six years ago, I threw myself into creating blog content, weekly newsletters, social media posts, and digital products. I even had a very short-lived podcast.
Six months in, I burned out.
I felt depleted and despondent.
I’d spent so much time following marketing gurus, soaking up all their ‘expert’ tips and trying to be this super productive person who showed up online every day. But I’d forgotten about all the other important things in life – health and well-being, connection, time for play and relaxation, space to just be.
People think time is our most precious commodity.
Our energy is.
Mental, emotional, physical.
Energy isn’t some unlimited resource we get to tap into whenever we feel like it. Our batteries need regular recharging and most of us aren’t doing enough of it.
Here’s where peaceful productivity comes in.
It’s less about doing for the sake of doing, and more about working smarter – with our energy.
I thought I’d share a couple of things that have helped me transform the way I work. My days feel a lot more spacious, and I feel more energised and at ease.
Maybe you’ll be inspired to give one or two of them a go, too.
“In a world addicted to speed, slowness is your superpower.”~ Carl Honoré
Nine ways to be peacefully productive
1) Ease into your day. If that means waking up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and mentally set yourself up for the day, do it.
2) Block out movement in your calendar. Exercise sharpens our creativity and concentration, nevermind all the other health benefits. If I don’t schedule it in, I don’t do it.
3) Leave ‘breathing room’ gaps. Don’t overschedule your day. Make room for peaceful productivity by giving your brain a break to recharge between meetings and focus work.
4) Set your environment up for inspiration. Move your desk around. Take your office to a coffee shop, the library, or an outdoor spot with a scenic view. Decorate a wall with colourful prints. Pour a delicious coffee. Put on some low-fi music. Do whatever it takes to create a workspace that inspires you.
5) Figure out your energy ‘peak.’ This is an intentional block of time for high focus or creative work. Maybe for you, that’s mid-morning after you’ve settled in. Or it’s later in the afternoon when you have less distractions.
6) Recharge over lunch. Beat the afternoon slump by hitting a quick (or leisurely) pause over midday. Take a refreshing walk, lie down for a few minutes, do some stretches, or watch a funny video.
7) Aim for progress, not perfection. Peaceful productivity is all about moving forward with sustained energy. Don’t get caught up in trying to perfect everything. Create a very basic MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – this can be whatever you’re working on: a new website, a service offering, a blog article. Just start small and know that you can come back to tweak it, or build on as you go.
8) Reserve Mondays for easing in. Save the meetings for Tuesdays and use the first day of the week to set yourself up. You could plan your calendar, book appointments, respond to emails, and do low-key admin work. Conserve your energy so you have more of it to spread throughout the week.
And lastly (#9), don’t forget to take more deep belly breaths. Simply pause where you are in the moment and breathe deeply for a minute or two. This is a powerful way to starve stress and oxygenate the brain with blood flow.
There are so many things we can shift, or create in our day to help us work with our energy.
These are just a few.
The whole idea of peaceful productivity is controlling where you put your mental energy and enjoying the way you work. Work isn’t meant to be something we just ‘get through.’ It takes up so much of our lives, so reshifting how we approach our work is instrumental to our well-being.
No one wants to get to 11am on Tuesday, totally depleted because they powered through Monday like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve been there plenty of times; it’s not fun.
Space your energy out.
Work with it – don’t force it. And experiment. Know that what works for some people, might not work for you… Explore, try different things, and create your own workday rhythm.
There’s power in taking ownership of the way you work.
Don’t give into the pressure of slogging away without a thought to your energy and well-being, just because you see other people doing it. Break the pattern.
Change the narrative.
Make it more energising and enjoyable.
Let’s try to create a life we don’t feel the need to escape from.