They have been my greatest teachers so far. The boys are now 6 and 7.5 years old, and it has been time of amazing learning for me. I feel that during this time I have learned and experienced more than in my entire life.
Today I would like to share few productivity techniques I have distilled from what I have been learning from my children: by listening, observing and being by their side. I noticed that they are so direct and unobstructed, they are not spoiled yet by the prejudices or external rules and beliefs that are predominant in our society. They are still in touch with their natural instincts, intuition, their “inner guidance system”. They don’t know that asking for help can be perceived as a sign of weakness…
To some of you these approaches to effectiveness might seem a bit controversial, some of them might appear opposite to what you’ve been told! Nevertheless they have been working wonderfully for generations of young children, so why not try and apply some of them in our busy adult lives. Especially if everything else has failed…
So here we go, 12 simple and effective productivity techniques I have learned from my boys:
1) Be present in the moment. This is how children are, living in the present moment. We adults forget to stay present experiencing anxiety about future and worrying or even getting depressed about the past.
Imagine there is neither past nor future, and the present moment is the only thing you have. Breath it, feel it, and do whatever needs to be done. Notice how much more productive you become.
2) Imperfection rocks. If children would always wait until they could do things perfectly they would just sit and do nothing! But they don’t. They just rock it imperfectly.
Imperfect action turns out to be an excellent cure for procrastination. An imperfect draft of that paper is the best thing you can do to get moving with the project. You’ll get a chance to polish and improve it later!
3) Patience and persistence. Think how we never give up on a baby believing she will learn to roll over, sit and walk. If a baby makes two steps and then falls we don’t rush to conclude the baby will never learn to walk! We have a complete trust in her.
Although some of us are quite patient and persistent in working towards our goals, we often give up far too quickly on ourselves or our colleagues if something does not go as planned. Patience and persistence, my friend! Don’t give up on that dream of yours just yet! Simply find someone trustworthy to encourage and cheer for you on that path.
4) Practice complete focus. This is an opposite to the notorious multitasking of a busy parent, scientist or researcher.. I observe my children getting completely focused on something that really matters to them to such extent that they do not even hear me. And this is where an intense inner work and learning happens that eventually manifests in progress.
Try this. Clear an hour of time from all distractions and interruptions, focus completely on this one task, be that working on your paper or writing a chapter of your thesis. Switch off e-mail alert and smart phone, close down Facebook and Twitter. Set a timer.
I hear it again and again from the clients of my productivity mentoring how much they manage to get done in a short period of time of complete focus.
5) Let go of the fear, invite joy instead. Looking at the boys I notice that they do not fear that the whole thing is not going to work out. They just worry about the very next step and deal with it without any worries.
Sitting down to work on that particular project, we often experience fear that it won’t be good enough, or our boss won’t like it or we don’t know enough to start working on it. As the result we are not 100% effective at what we are doing.
Let go of those fearful thoughts, pretend they don’t matter at least for this hour, get excited about the final result instead, and see how much more productive and effective you get When the fear comes up and stops you from moving forward ask yourself: “What is the very next step that needs to be done right now?” Then do it.
6) Accept what is. One day the boys came home from an outing and told me they went around three swimming pools until they found the one that was open. They reported it as a matter of fact; it was neither good nor bad. Most adults would have been very annoyed in the very same situation!
When we have a problem we usually show resistance to the situation we are in. By this we are building walls between us and the solution. Once we fully accept the situation, the walls fall down and the solution easily finds us. Often the situation is resolved within minutes, sometimes it takes weeks until a solution finds us, but it always comes after we fully accept the situation.
7) Love and accept yourself. Have you seen a baby that is unsatisfied with herself? Young children are so happy with who they are, they are full of love, delighted and thrilled about themselves.
The negative thoughts about ourselves, the criticism and beating ourselves up get in the way to being our best, attracting the greatest outcomes and achieving our goals.
A good start is to look into the mirror and say: “I love you”. It might bring stuff up so use it to learn about you and what is in the way of loving yourself. This is the first step to truly loving others and serving them in the best and biggest way possible.
8) Forgive and forget. Young children are so resilient and amazing at forgiving. When you (accidentally) get angry and yell at them, do you notice how quickly they forget it and in a few moments talk to you as if nothing ever happened. It makes them vulnerable but at the same time so effective at communicating.
Imagine talking to a person be that your colleague or your relative as if nothing bad ever happened between you two. Communicating with openness and kindness you show respect to the person you are talking to as well as to yourself. Drop your story of what has happened between you and the person you are talking to, let them BE (and don’t take things personally ). Feel how much more effective your communication becomes.
9) Know your preferences. I am amazed how my children always know exactly what they want and have strong opinions about everything. I believe this is because young children are in touch with their desires and with themselves.
We are so scattered and splattered during our busy working day, so disconnected with ourselves that often we make decisions in a reactive state choosing something we don’t really want or like. Getting in touch with yourself and with your desires and priorities will make it easy for you to say Yes to things you like and No to the things you don’t want in your life.
10) Start each day like it’s your birthday… or Christmas, or Easter. When we boil eggs for breakfast boys often colour them before eating them. Just because! When we bake a cake the boys usually insist on blowing candles and singing songs – why not? Every day is so precious and I am thrilled to see the boys choose to celebrate each one of them.
Start you day by doing something for yourself, be that reading a book, listening to an audio book or having the best breakfast you can possibly have. During the day do something you LOVE, that makes your heart sing. Do what you love more often and do less of what you don’t like. It makes for a happier working environment as well as for a balanced life! Also, this way being productive becomes more effortless.
11) If you can dream it, you can do it. It was an early morning and the boys demanded to build a lighthouse. “Oh, no”, I said, “it’s too difficult” (forgive me, it WAS an early morning). The boys insisted, they wanted a lighthouse, they dreamed it, they envisioned it. They listed every little detail the lighthouse will have. It took some time and efforts, but we got a pipe, a flashlight, a rope, and some bed sheets and with some twiddling it all made a lovely lighthouse. The boys were overjoyed.
Start by re-visiting your dream and spending your leisure moments on thinking about tiny details that will constitute your creation. Be open to opportunities, and take them once they arise. You CAN do it
12) Reach out for support. “Mommy, help!” “Daddy, help!” I hear it all the time. The boys are totally fine asking for help, they are not ashamed of this, neither afraid to look like wimps. They KNOW who to ask if they need help.
Adults are often ashamed to reach out for support in very important instances or simply don’t know where to seek help. I am so appreciative I have a mentor, who is there to support me in my ups and downs, share her wisdom and encourage me on my path. I am also grateful that many of my readers trusted me enough to go through my mentoring programs and some continued with receiving personal coaching from me.
It’s OK to reach out for support, it’s not embarrassing, it means you honour yourself and are ready for growth! You can always start today HERE.