I’m nearly at the end of “Maynia” and I’ve gone from inbox zero to direction zero. No longer the productivity ninja, apologising for embarrassing slip ups, not sleeping well and finding it harder to switch off… I can’t wait for the end of this month’s experiment.
I am realising that there’s no longer a fixed line between what’s on my list and “committed to” and those things which are possibilities, pipe dreams and must-get-round-to’s. And suddenly, possibility is becoming scary and overwhelming, rather than the empowering thing it is when I have practical productivity systems like to-do lists and my trusty “second brain” which knocks possibility into some kind of sane order, and compares it to what else sits on your plate at that time. Now, possibility is scary because having no second brain makes it more difficult to draw a line between what I’m “on top of” and what I’m “behind” on, so all I can do is keep working. I am working mindlessly, without the boss part of my brain to evaluate whether every week, day, hour or individual decision was the right one to take. I actually don’t know, most of the time. What does a successful day look like anymore? Beyond surviving it, it’s hard to say.
And as I get more distracted from the things I should be doing, I daydream more about more possibilities. So the mental list just keeps growing and growing – and at the same time fewer items are getting ticked off the list. Productivity is down. Stress is up.
So THIS is what it’s like for so many people who do our workshops and complain they are overwhelmed and don’t have the right systems – not that people ever really have NO systems, they just have LESS of a system than they need – which causes uncertainty, blindness to priorities, moments of panic and disorientation. You can have the illusion of systems, or the illusion of good ones, but really the measure is whether you feel sane and empowered at the end of a day or whether you feel stressed, overwhelmed and miserable. And I have had enough of these latter feelings this month already.
Without systems to help us in our thinking, we’re left feeling and therefore acting with less of a sense of direction or certainty. Thinking affects action. Motion comes from the emotion.
Yes, having systems in place helps you get more done and make better choices. But more importantly, it’s difficult to feel happy in your life when you’re NOT doing, unless you’re comfortable and clear about WHAT you’re not doing, and where doing should end.
I’m unhappily experiencing all of this. But at least at the same time I’m happily confirming that what we teach on our workshops really matters.
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Graham’s productivity experiments – see where it started