You don't often see the words "mindful" and "productive" in the same sentence. There tends to be an emphasis on one or the other.
Believe it or not, they can work together.
Here's my take on it.
When you focus exclusively on productivity, you risk neglecting your wellbeing in favour of doing more. You risk ignoring your human-ness in favour of getting everything done.
Approaching the week mindfully doesn't hinder your productivity. It actually enhances it.
It shifts the focus away from "doing it all" to "doing the right things". It encourages you to be gentle with yourself, to pay close attention to your needs, to address them as and when they arise, and to honour your limits.
After all, we're not machines. We're human.
Here are four time management hacks for a more mindful and productive week:
Identify your top priorities and block out time for these things. This will help alleviate decision fatigue and help you begin the week with a strong sense of purpose.
Planning in advance = peace of mind, knowing you've scheduled time for the most important things. It helps you say no to the things that would otherwise distract you and steal your focus, time and energy.
Need help identifying your top priorities? Here are five questions to ask yourself.
I’m referring to the type of activities that require a longer time commitment, like a 60 minute yoga class or a 45 minute gym session.
Block out time for these activities, so you're not trying to "find" time during the week. I like to do this on a Sunday.
It’s so much easier to commit to these acts of self-care when they are already scheduled in. It’s a lot harder to “find” time in a packed schedule.
Half the battle is just deciding to block out time for yourself. When you’ve figured out the time, activity and location in advance, all you need to do is show up. It takes A LOT of the resistance out of practising self-care.
Taking time away from your to-do list to refuel and recharge your mind and body might not sound like a strategy for improving your "productivity" but it is. Your mind and body need regular breaks to function at its best.
Ultimately, you need to consider your future self, your wellbeing, your happiness, and sense of fulfillment when judging what is and isn’t productive.
Write a to-do list for the week and for each task, determine if it's a logical or creative task and how long it will take to complete.
The goal is to group similar tasks together and schedule specific time blocks to complete them, whether that's a full day or the first few hours of the day.
This will help you enter a flow state instead of experiencing the fatigue that comes from constantly toggling between the logical and creative parts of your brain.
Leverage the habits you complete on autopilot like brushing your teeth, driving to work, folding laundry or doing the dishes.
Use this same time slot for a new habit, like listening to a podcast or audiobook.
Just remember, not every moment needs to be productive so implement this tactic mindfully.
Test it out, and see how it feels? Is it overloading your brain, or making the mundane task a little more enjoyable? If you're feeling the latter, it sounds like a winning combination.