Monday, February 7, 2011

Productivity and a Healthy Lifestyle

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 
Proverbs 6:6

By a show of hands, how many of us struggle with productivity? While I hope most of you know that you’re behind a computer and therefore unseen by anyone else, I'm laughing if you actually raised your hand. However, I'm hoping you’ll be honest when you consider the question. I know we all are sometimes, but some of us are a lot more than others. Here are just a few tips from my own life on being more productive, and why I feel productivity is important for you and your healthy lifestyle!

First off, let’s address ways to improve your productivity levels.

  • I’m sure your mother has been saying this since you were 5 years old, but make your bed when you get up in the morning! I’ll share a personal anecdote: when I get up on the weekends, it’s usually when I roll out of bed at around 10 or 11. By then, I just shuffle down the stairs, plop myself on the couch, and watch tv or read for several hours before I realize - “hey, I should probably do some homework . . . Oh well.” The other day, however, we got up and we immediately made our bed. It only took about 30 seconds and we actually got homework done that day! I went for a walk, took a shower and did my hair and makeup (which I usually do NOT do on Saturdays just at home), finished 5 sections in math, and ate better than I generally do. Lesson: Immediate productivity breeds productivity.
  • Write yourself a to-do list, and make it manageable. No, “Today I will clean my entire house, do two weeks worth of homework, work out for an hour and a half, make a shopping list and go shopping, pay all of the bills, wash the dog, wash the car, …” 
  • Lists like this are unattainable and create disappointment and ultimately make us give up when we realize we are unable to complete even a small part of that list. Make your list in chunks, such as - “Clean bathroom. Read for one hour. Go for a brisk walk. Do one section of math homework. Tidy living room,” or whatever it is you have on your plate. Simply put, make a list you can handle and accomplish.
  • Make a game out of it. How much of that homework can you get done in two hours? Can you beat your personal record on time it takes to clean the house? What reward will you get when you’re finished? Do you have a study buddy or friend you can challenge in this “game”?
  • Take a break… but set a time limit. One thing that helps me on a long day ahead of homework is knowing that I will get a break. Taking the time to exercise, take a nap, or even relaxing with ONE tv episode, will give you something to work toward. I often get overwhelmed when I feel I have no chance to breathe or relax, and at that point, I’m even more unproductive.
  • Give yourself a deadline. If you're anything like me, you work better when you know you have to. I'm a procrastinator, but this generally works for me. I work well under pressure. Knowing I have to have something done by a deadline gives me better motivation to work hard and work fast!
  • Pray about it. Feeling like there’s no way you can pull yourself out of that funk? Ask for help. God cares about all of our worries, cares, issues, problems, even that messy bathroom you keep meaning to clean. Remember that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
But why does any of this matter? Why is productivity on a blog about healthy living? As I hinted above, being productive makes me more productive, so to speak, in my healthy lifestyle. I’m more likely to exercise and eat right on days where I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done and have been useful. Days where I feel terrible about myself for my laziness and lack of productivity lead me to eat badly and not want to exercise. Since I’m assuming I’m not alone in these feelings, I hope to have encouraged you with these ideas.

Do you have any other tips or ideas for productivity? What works for you and what doesn’t?


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