The Surprising Secret to Productivity:
How Mindfulness and Joy Can Supercharge Your Performance
Do you feel better when you are productive? Remember those days when you made your to-do list the night before, color coded your calendar and checked off every item. But more often than not, life gets in the way, and your desire for productivity is thwarted. When this happens, it’s easy to get discouraged or resentful because you didn’t achieve the outcome you wanted. Can you relate?
The truth is productivity isn’t just about achieving prescribed results. While entrepreneurs and business leaders do need to focus on specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), being solely focused on outcomes can lead to transactional box-checking, which can become addictive.
Instead, think of productivity as the activation of your desires and preferences. The key is to focus on the joy of the activity itself rather than the outcome. When you engage in activities that bring you delight (no matter how small), you can lose yourself in the process and find happiness in the doing. This shift in thinking can work in your favor.
Consider washing dishes from a mindful point of view. Of course, you enjoy the benefit of clean dishes when finished, but if you focus on the activity itself—the suds, the movement along the dishware, the droplets of water, the aroma of the dish soap, and the random and wonderful thoughts that pop into your head as you immerse yourself in the task—without a worry about the outcome, you can reach a state of mind that is stable and worry-free.
Fretting about what the result is supposed to look like can lead to disappointment and hinder productivity. Pay attention to when you check out or give up. Inertia is not relaxation; it’s a sign of realized disappointment.
As successful entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s easy to become attached to the grind of doing, efforting, producing, and moving the ball forward. But it’s hard to relax, to just be and do without prescribing an outcome. You cannot control the river, but you can revel in the flow. Let go of expectations and trust in the journey. There’s so much to explore, learn, discern, and know, and it can be done without undue attachments to outcomes. Be open to surprises, blessings, and miracles. Allow yourself to let go and enjoy the steps and discoveries along the way.
By all means, enjoy your checklist, but make room for surprises and delights.
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired – an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.
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