Productivity is something that I’ve grappled with as I’ve gotten older. The tricky thing with this concept is that feeling productive can be very fleeting and subjective, and it’s different for everyone. It is, however, human nature to NEED to feel like we’re doing something of value in our lives. And, productivity is a component of happiness. But, what does this really mean? We perhaps feel accomplished from a combination of things, including accomplishments at work, participation with family and more. Historical accomplishments are great, but they often seem distant and only satiate us temporarily. The problem is that when we aren’t feeling productive, or when work seems really unfulfilling, life can feel down or even depressing. So, how do we maintain a feeling or sense of accomplishment and productivity that just feels better?
While there is no definite formula for feeling productive, here is what I’ve learned now that I’m a bit older and Smarter. Aside from your typical work schedule, try and do the following:
- Help Others: helping others can be one of the most gratifying experiences. There is almost always something you can do to lend a hand to another person, do something nice for them, etc. This applies to friends, family or even people you don’t know. Be generous and thoughtful with your contributions to other people and see how it makes you feel. I currently get this feeling by helping an elderly man who has no children or living relatives. He’s alone in the sunset of his life and my small participation in his life means so much to him and, in turn, contributes to my sense of satisfaction. (I referenced this in a previous blog as well: https://smartersooner.com/2015/11/30/be-kind-to-seniors-it-pays-off/) Helping others is also more formally accomplished by volunteering for various charitable organizations. Additionally, doing random acts of kindness also adds to that ‘good feeling’ we’re all seeking.
- Read: reading is productive as are enriching your mind. I would suggest reading news (from really good news sources), which will give you perspective about the world, exercise your mind, make you more engaging and more. I tend to read the NY Times as much as possible because it is educating and stimulating on so many topics. You can also read blogs online on various topics that interest you – there is an amazing amount of content on 100s of different topics are available free via people (like me) blogging. I have found that to really benefit from reading, it’s important to be disciplined about it and actually carve out an hour or even 30-minutes each day to READ.
- Study / Attend Classes: Find something that you’d like to improve or learn and sign up for classes (informal or formal). I personally focus on cooking lessons and studying Spanish. We can always get better at a foreign language and there are dozens of options for learning languages inexpensively online. Depending on your interests, you can definitely find something to stimulate your mind and give you a sense of accomplishment. And, you don’t have to pay for a lot of these initial lessons – simply do research online, watch YouTube videos and read inexpensive books. The idea is to be proactive and focus on enriching yourself. When you do this, you will feel more satisfied.
- Get Up Earlier: Early risers tend to feel more productive for a number of reasons, which seem pretty obvious. When you start earlier, you get more done… it’s as simple as that. Additionally, sleep studies have shown that going to bed earlier makes it more likely that you’ll sleep more deeply. That’s another good thing. When you’re fresh and energized in the morning, you’re ready to be productive.
- Exercise / Health: Taking care of your body and exercising regularly makes you stronger and fitter. When you’re stronger and fitter, you feel more energized and motivated to be productive. Also, feeling good about your body permeates in other areas of your life.
Try some of the above suggestions to feel a bit more productive. We can all benefit. Good luck!