Happiness Inspires Productivity : 3 Steps To A More Balanced & Productive Lifestyle
Are you a productivity-junky like me? Constantly chasing it, needing to be productive at all times? I’m making sure I get to be productive by taking care of myself with food, exercise and a disciplined daily schedule. Much of this is also driven by the horrible feeling I get at the end of a day when I haven’t been that productive. Feeling I lost the day, wasted time and I also feel super pressured to do better tomorrow.
And the reward when I can tell my friends or colleagues how busy I am! Doing this, starting that. Accomplishing this, chasing that. People are so impressed. And then the conversation moves on to complaining about it, right? How busy we are with everything. No time to relax or to do something spontaneous. Seems everyone always agrees with me in these conversations.
Truth is, I hate this chit-chatting. Ideally I’d want it to go like this:
“How are you?”
“I’m so busy!”
“Okay, but how do you feel about that? Are you happy you are getting lots of things done? Are you really getting things done? And are you enjoying your busy-ness? Because it seems to me you are only complaining about it and it really seems to me like you’re saying you’d like to make time to do other things.
Ah, social conventions, right?
Luckily, I get to write! I think so many of us are struggling with this, because deep down we also want to be the opposite of productive – just relax and enjoy life and feel good. So can we somehow bring all this together? Be productive, get things done, but sometimes not and still be okay with that?
The good news is that it is possible to create wonderful things, feel energized and excited, work productively and successfully and just be simply happy. Here’s how:
1. Stay in Shape
Get up early and use your mornings wisely. You’re fresh, you have the whole day before you. Make sure you are ready to go and have lots of things done before lunch. it feels great! Working on your shape will help you with your productivity, because it is the basis for feeling good, focussed and happy. From this state of being, you can make anything happen.
By getting or staying in shape, I mean mind, body and spirit.
Your mental fitness is as important as you body fitness. Make time to clear your mind, regularly. And remember you have to work on this continuously. Like regular exercise, also make time in your weekly (or daily) schedule to flex and relax your mind and spirit. Sleep well, eat well, and exercise well (this can be anything from kickboxing to meditation – whatever suits you).
2. Find Your Rhythm: Time vs. Effort
Everything has rhythm. You do too. We often find ourselves in the rhythm of someone else (school or company) but I found out this can be super counter-productive. Not everyone is made for a working schedule of 9-5. And no-one is build to be sitting on a desk chair for that amount of time day every day. My advice here is to not do that! I see this can be a problem, since most companies are run like that. But let us start a movement away from that. And free ourselves from this unnatural work-rhythmas soon as we can. You need to be able to find your own rhythm with maximum productivity as a result. This will serve you and ultimately your employer too.
3. Don’t Force It
Feel when you are productive and when you’re not. You can sense if you are going to be super productive or whether you are going to be doing things because of a deadline, but your mind is somewhere completely different. Sense this and use it. Don’t go in it all frustrated and with force. Better to be super productive for few hours at the right moment, than to go against your mood and force it. The result of that work will not be as good and you’ll completely drain yourself and might even start to resent the work you are doing because of it.
No one knows you better than you do.
The Formula For Success and Happiness
These techniques require a disciplined mind. And there’s a fine line between forcing yourself, discipline and self-love all the way on the other side of the spectrum. So what’s a healthy balance? On the one hand I’m offering suggestions to be more intuitive, to feel your way through the day and the benefits from that. On the other hand this also requires practice, patience and trust that putting a little less time in work and more time in taking care of yourself, will eventually make for better results and higher productivity.
Luckily I have some research to back up my own experience! Check out the work of Shawn Achor, happiness researcher and NY Times bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential. He’s a great speaker as well. In this clip he explains positive psychology.
Most schools and businesses follow this formula for happiness and success: if I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful than I’ll be happier. What happens is every time your brain reaches success, you just change the goal post of what success looks like (better grades, better jobs, higher sales targets). Achor argues If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there.
According to the study 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ. 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.
Positive psychology says the formula for happiness and success works the other way around. If you can raise someone’s levels of positivity in the present, than the brain experiences a so called “ happiness advantage”. A positive brain performs significantly better than a negative, neutral or stressed brain. Intelligence rises, creativity rises, energy levels rise. In fact your brain is 31% more productive at positive than when it’s negative, neutral or stressed.
Reversed formula: if we can find a way to become positive in the present, than our brains work more successfully, as we are able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.
Ways to train your brain to become more positive according to Achor:
- 3 gratitudes: Write down 3 things you are grateful for every day
- Journaling about one positive experience you had in the past 24 hours
- Random acts of kindness. When you open your inbox first thing in the morning, try writing one positive email praising or thanking someone
Can I Start Following My Bliss Now?
So finally we can let go now of ridiculous hard work and being so called “super busy” constantly in order to achieve that juicy productivity we crave. This is your ultimate excuse to get off the track toward burnout and depression and switch to following the things you love. Better yet, you have to choose to make time for the things you love, for your me-time, because your brain needs it! Your success in life and work and your own happiness depend on it.
Go, be happy now! If you can make that your priority, you’ll end up getting to be crazily productive and successful as an added bonus.
Marleen Mulder is the Founder of Minimal Mass, a clean-tech company aiming to make electricity more widely available and renewable energy tech affordable. She is passionate about exploring new ways of enjoying nature and lowering her footprint on the earth. Being based in the Netherlands, she is fully engaged in the online activities of Future Females.