16 Aug One Not-So-Obvious Secret To Skyrocket Your Productivity
Do you feel like you’re running a race against time that you never seem to win?
You plan, you schedule, only to find yourself in the same place i.e. struggling with time.
You’ve even sought help on this.
You’ve learnt a bunch of productivity tools and techniques. Yet you haven’t progressed much.
You beat yourself up for being a procrastinator, indisciplined and not self-motivated.
You live with the constant guilt of not having completed tasks.
You’re always postponing your pet project. Be it writing a blog post, hosting a workshop or pursuing that photography venture.
Not meeting friends and family enough.
Well, there are several reasons why you’re struggling with managing your time.
But, there’s just one thing you can do to take your productivity to amazing heights.
Once you understand what that is and apply it, you’ll find it easier to set clear priorities.
It will be simpler to identify and drop some time wasters.
You’ll be able to take charge of your time, and honour your commitment to yourself and others.
This way you’ll be able to unlock your energy that is stuck in the guilt of not accomplishing tasks – big or small.
And make time for things that are important to you.
Eager to know what that secret is?
Will share it with you in a bit.
Do you find it difficult to say no to running an errand for your spouse, when you’re exhausted?
Or do you agree to complete a colleague’s project when you can barely finish your own work, as you can’t refuse your boss?
How many times have you agreed to an unreasonable deadline with a client? Only because you worry about losing the client if you’d asked for reasonable time?
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.” ― Warren Buffett
Now, managing time is more about managing yourself, than it is about scheduling.
We blame our boss, spouse, team and kids for our constant busyness.
We even blame the company culture, the government and bad roads for our inability to manage our time.
Here’s the thing. Our inability to manage our time has little to do with other people or situations.
The root cause often lies elsewhere.
It lies in our inability to exercise healthy boundaries in life and work.
Not having healthy boundaries not only takes your time. It also fills you with feelings of sadness, defeat and resentment as you let someone get the better of you.
Such patterns block your energy. These patterns become time suckers.
Consciously and intentionally exercising healthy boundaries is the secret to saving a ton of energy and time.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” ~ Brene Brown
Wondering how you can begin to exercise healthy boundaries?
The inability to have healthy boundaries is often a deep-seated pattern. It does not vanish overnight.
It needs work and patience to recover from.
But, you can begin with a few things that I’m about to share with you, to identify it, work on it and take charge of your time.
So let’s begin.
1. Spot Your Patterns
First, you need to identify situations where you don’t practice healthy boundaries.
Observe yourself. Be aware and alert to catch yourself in such situations.
It could be a short interaction with a grocery store attendant. Or a significant one like dealing with dominating partner. Observe yourself.
Perhaps, you’re confident and in-charge at work. You know how to manage your team, keep them motivated and you know exactly when to say no.
But you’re the exact opposite at home. You feel taken advantage of and bullied by your kids. You’re unable to say no when required.
You land up doing a lot more at home than you should be doing. You feel emotionally drained. All this sucks your time.
Or do you get talked into agreeing to client fee that’s a lot lower than you deserve?
Make a note of all such situations when you’re unable to exercise healthy boundaries.
Talk to your closest friend/sibling. Ask them to tell you about such situations in your life.
2. Get To The Root
Think about it.
What is it that holds you back in such situations?
What stops you from putting your foot down?
From negotiating a better deal?
Or from declining an invite to a social event when you don’t want to go?
Do you find it difficult to stand up to a boss, because you fear getting punished? Does he remind you of your strict father?
Do you find it difficult to be front-footed in a meeting and put across your point of view to figures of authority?
Does it bring up memories of reprimand or ridicule by a schoolteacher in front of the whole class? You may recall that rather demeaning and humiliating experience.
Do you feel bullied by your kids at home? And by your team at work, as you’re carrying the energy of bullying from your school days?
It could be a single incident or experiences over years that have shaped your pattern and made it strong.
It could also be from an experience you’ve gone through in the recent past. Dig deeper to understand what holds you back from practising healthy boundaries.
Good news is you can begin healing this pattern without identifying incidents that led to it.
Accepting your inability to practice healthy boundaries, is enough to move to the next step.
3. Strengthen Your Personal Power
The root cause of your inability to exercise boundaries is usually deep. You need to be patient with the healing process.
The techniques I’m about share will help you get a deeper perspective to it.
You may get insights and pathways about how you could make the shift.
The clarity and pathway will arm you with the courage and strength to bring this shift into your life.
Meditation will help you tune into the quiet place inside you.
It can help you get more clarity and understanding about your limiting patterns.
By meditating you can get insights into more situations where you’re unable to exercise healthy boundaries.
You can get a clearer perspective that will help you begin to stand up for yourself.
“Meditation takes you beyond the mind’s noisy chatter into the pure awareness that is the source of all your happiness, inspiration, and love.” ~ Deepak Chopra
You can meditate in silence or with music. You can follow a guided meditation that you found online. You may choose to join a meditation community in your city.
Start with what feels right for you.
This is a good starting point.
Journaling is a good practice to begin with if the idea of meditation overwhelms you. And of course, you can do both – journaling and meditation.
Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and introspection.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”~ Christina Baldwin
All you need is a journal (or a notebook) and a pen.
Set aside at least 30-40 min to do this exercise.
Choose a quiet time and place where you can be by yourself and there are no distractions.
Put your phone on silent or airplane mode, so you have undisturbed time.
Think about the struggle you go through, as you’re unable to exercise healthy boundaries. The helplessness you feel when you struggle to say no when required.
Recall your feelings when you can’t express yourself with clarity and courage.
Do you feel angry, lost or frustrated? Make a note of your feelings.
If you remember related situations and incidents, put them down.
Emotions may come up. Make a note.
If feelings about certain people come up, write them down. If you want to say something to them, put it down in your journal.
Communicate your feelings to them through your writing.
Feelings of rage, shame, guilt may come up, write them down.
Tears may roll down, allow them.
Feelings of gratitude, compassion and empathy may come up, jot them down.
Journaling can give you a clear perspective.
Keep writing. You may take half an hour or one hour. Allow yourself to take the time.
Be sure nobody reads your journal.
Make it a point to shred and burn the written pages of your journal, once you’ve completed the exercise.
You may feel light after the exercise or you may feel heavy with all the feelings coming up.
Relax and have some tea after you complete this exercise.
4. Get Into Action By Taking Small Steps
Daily meditation and journaling can arm you with perspective and courage.
You now need to bring change in your actions and behaviour.
It’s a great idea to start exercising healthy boundaries in situations where the stakes are low.
The small wins fill you with strength and confidence. Also, this ensures any disappointments don’t overwhelm you.
For example, start practising healthy boundaries with the grocer instead of your boss or spouse.
Each time you identify the need to set a boundary, be firm, yet loving, respectful and sensitive.
Ensure your communication is clear. Do not explain or justify yourself.
Don’t get angry or be apologetic for the boundary you’re setting. Do it with grace.
Preparation and rehearsal do help in getting better results, especially at the beginning.
Also, remember you’re only responsible for communicating your boundaries with respect.
It may surprise the person you’re communicating with. Remain firm and know you’re doing this in the interest of self-care.
“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring because I don’t do things your way. I care about me too.” ~ Christine Morgan
Not exercising healthy boundaries not only impacts your time but every area of life. It affects your health, relationships and well being, as well.
You may feel guilty, embarrassed or even selfish while exercising boundaries.
Feelings of anxiety and guilt may overwhelm you.
You may feel tempted to go back to your old ways and settle for less.
A word of caution. Once you set healthy boundaries with someone, your behaviour needs to match it up.
Relaxing the boundaries later, making exceptions or apologising could send mixed messages. This does not allow you to successfully establish clear boundaries.
Setting boundaries takes practice and determination.
Start small. Gain confidence and courage. Then you can practice healthy boundaries in situations where the stakes are higher.
Go back to meditation and journaling to get more clarity and strength. Raise the bar – continue the exercise.
Give credit to yourself as you take small steps and move ahead.
This way you’ll strengthen your emotional musculature.
The benefits of this work will spill over into all areas of your life, beyond time management.
As you start exercising healthy boundaries, you’ll release energy locked up in guilt, resentment and other emotions.
You’ll find it easier to set priorities. You’ll be able to make space for things that matter and cut out things that don’t. You’ll feel more in charge of your time.
Set boundaries. Grab your time. Enjoy having time to do things you love.
Start by taking small steps.
First, spot situations where you fail to exercise healthy boundaries.
Dig deeper to get to the root cause.
Work with a friend/sibling to help you and make it easy.
Set aside a few minutes for daily meditation and journaling.
Set your boundaries. Keep your communication clear, respectful and loving.
Be firm and do it with grace.
Your small wins will give you the courage to keep going.
And before you know it, you would’ve made time for doing things you love.
Still, have questions about setting healthy boundaries?
Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s figure.
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