Have you been feeling as if you are stuck in a rut? It’s like you are a wheel in mud and the slippery slope is dragging you down. You feel annoyed, irritated, and embrace the spiral of guilt for not being productive. But you are not alone! It’s 2020 and more than half of the world is struggling to stay afloat and functioning.
For most professionals, on the days they struggle with being productive, they can put in some effort and clock out. For creators or artists, the lack of creativity, debilitating attack on productivity can impact the content you create or art you produce. I have seen a noticeable difference in my work this year and its because even getting out of bed is a challenge on most days. This feeling is resonated by artists, entrepreneurs, and creators across the world. So how does one tackle this? How can you improve productivity?
Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that I don’t subscribe to the societal notions of ‘productivity’. Productivity doesn’t mean getting up at 7 am, working out, having a good breakfast, working for 8-9 hours, having a good dinner, and then heading to sleep. It means creating a supportive environment for your art and content to be created and nourished. Productivity can have different meanings for different people. If your definition of productivity is the one I mentioned above, that’s okay. You choose what sustains you.
Whatever your definition of productivity is, I have found there are certain ways to improve it.
The first thing to do if you feel you aren’t being productive enough or unable to create to your best is to take a step back. Getting some distance between you and your work can give you clarity and help you reassign your focus if needed. During this time, you can analyze if your productivity is actually being affected by answering a few questions:
- Why do you think you aren’t productive?
- What does being productive mean to you?
- Are you putting excess pressure on yourself and your work?
- Can you ask a colleague or a friend to give you advice if they think your work has been affected?
Sometimes having an outsider’s opinion can open our eyes to the fact that we have been placing extreme pressure on ourselves to match up to the high standards placed by society. Fast workers who can do the job in 4 hours feel they are not as ‘productive’ enough than then ones who work for 8 hours. It just means that you are better at time management.
You constantly need to redefine productivity and its impact on your life. Being ‘busy‘ or ‘overwhelmed‘ with work is usually seen as a symbol of success or being good at your job. It’s not necessarily true. While it’s good to stay busy, working 80 hours a week or working on weekends can affect your work-life balance and leave no time for you to recuperate and sustain your creativity.
When one struggles with creating content or art, they can feel negative, drained, and fatigued. It was a constant lose-lose situation for me because I was barely able to focus or even stay still. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix and eat mindlessly. But sadly, life doesn’t work that way if you need your job to pay the bills. Then I did this exercise which I started as a joke. After seeing the results, I am a true believer. It will sound silly and it may not be your cup of tea so skip it if you feel like.
I was facing negative feelings and overwhelming sadness and irritation in my life. The days I woke up ‘deciding to be positive’ turned to be absolute crap within the first few hours. So how the hell does one stay upbeat or positive or even sane? That’s when it hit me. You can’t really do it unless you have something to be positive about. It was a matter of changing your perception. I created a ‘Gratitude Diary’ where I noted down things I felt lucky to have or see or possess. It was so trivial that I didn’t even notice the difference until a week or so. In any bad situation, I wasn’t going down in a spiral of hopelessness. Instead, I was thinking how lucky I am that it could have been worse. It wasn’t a complete overhaul or magic. I still have a long way to go but this was an excellent start and something I plan on continuing forever.
You can also try bullet journaling to improve your productivity or boost creativity. Writing down ideas, thoughts, and emotions let me vent without it clouding my mind and distracting me. I could create freely and definitely saw an improvement in my productivity. In case you don’t know bullet journaling, there are some blogs and resources you can check out.
It is powerful, targeted, and channels your emotions so you feel clear headed and focused. There are so many ways you can use a bullet journal or a diary to improve your productivity. My journal is a mash of my feelings, ideas, and whether I feel creative or not. Below is another sample page I use to scribble thoughts.
It can be anything you want it to be. You can save this image to use or make your own based on this. For example, I noted down the cups of coffee I was consuming because I wanted to watch my caffeine intake. It can be similar for you or you could write ‘Worked out‘ ‘Ate sugar‘ or any other habit you want to monitor or inculcate.
There you have it, some specific ways that can improve your productivity and boost your creativity. Have you tried them? What do you do when faced with a writer’s block? Do leave a comment or suggestion below.