As Jason recently explained in What We Talk About When We Talk About Productivity, here at ProfHacker, “We’re less interested in helping you be more productive in the abstract than in solving specific productivity-related problems, especially the crippling self-punishment associated with anxieties about productivity.”
In that spirit, here are a few questions that can increase your awareness about how you’re spending your time and energy.
What are you doing right now? The first step in cultivating mindful awareness is just to pause and notice something. If you want to begin doing something differently, you have to first understand what it is you are currently doing. Simply pausing a few times a day to take an inventory of how you’re spending your time can teach you about your own habits, energy levels, and current priorities. (To help with this, you can set a recurring alarm on your phone or digital calendar, or send yourself an email or text message with this question.)
How many things are you doing right now? Is reading this post the only thing? Some people need extra stimulus in their environment in order to focus (I’m listening to music as I write this); some people thrive on layering tasks; and others succeed best by doing only one thing at a time. Do you know what’s best for you? Do you know how much multitasking you currently do?
What are you not doing right now? When we choose to do one task, we are also choosing to not do another one. There may be tasks that you’re not doing right now, but will do later today or later this week. There may be other tasks that you’ve been “not doing” for weeks or months. Asking this question helps raise awareness of the priorities you are putting into place through your actions (whether they are in line with your conscious priorities or not).
How do you feel about the things you are not doing? If they don’t trouble you at all, perhaps they don’t really need to be done, or they represent an outdated goal. Release them from your to-do list and free up your attention for the things that matter most to you. But if what you’re not doing causes you fear or stress, ask yourself why are you not doing these things? What obstacles are you facing? What kind of support do you need to help you take action?
What are you not doing that you could release from your to-do list to free up your energy? Let us know in the comments!
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