Busy But Not Productive?
I used to be really busy, but the truth was that I wasn’t. At least not in the terms of being busy doing the things that I really cared about, or that would create the kind of life I wanted to live.
To be honest, it was my increasing daily anxiety that was the clue that things were off. My mind was a runaway train (hello Libra and Vata Dosha) and I knew that I wasn’t really living out my true purpose even though I didn’t have a clue what that looked like.
I was very busy scrapping at whatever was thrown my way. I thought that eventually I would just fall into it if I kept DOING stuff.
As much as people would like to chalk stress and anxiety off as “everyone has it these days”, the reality is that our bodies are not meant to be ill. And this includes states of mind that lead to physical problems.
When we constantly listen to what the mind says without awareness, we act like a chicken with our heads cut off. (Horrible analogy, I know.)
Our minds have ZERO clues about what we want and don’t want, and how to go about getting or not getting such things. How many times have you changed your mind? How many times have you followed your mind to get what you thought you wanted only to find out that you didn’t get the results you wanted? It’s very stressful to be ruled by our thoughts.
The mind is a great servant, but a horrible master.
Long story short, I started a morning routine that included certain activities that would train me to connect to my higher self during the day so I could make more intentional decisions and stop reacting to life.
I needed to SLOW down and stop focusing on my mind that was leading me on an anxiety-ridden wild goose chase. I also wanted to connect more to my dharma and purpose, and my mind couldn’t help me much. I had to get to know my REAL self, who I was at soul-level.
I started this morning ritual back in 2013, and to this day, I am still 100% committed to the process. I quickly learned that when I slowed down and made conscious choices about what was on my to-do list, I actually became LESS stressed and MORE purposeful and productive.
I never desire to go back to the “old way”, hence the non-negotiability (I know, this isn’t really a word) of skipping my morning routine.
A Simple Planning Tool
There is more to creating a life that is less stressful and more productive than just using a planner to be smarter about your to-do list. (Check out my Morning Magic course for a full rundown of everything I do.)
But I want to start here in the "planner" world because on episode 11 of my Coffee with the Universe radio show, I had the privilege of interviewing Stephen Lawson, the founder of the Monk Manual.
The Monk Manual is basically a productivity planner but much more, and was a total game-changer for me.
Yes, I have a Google calendar and an app that I can easily add tasks to, but I found myself becoming completely detached from what I was doing a why. When I started writing things down in a paper planner, it put my brain at ease. It’s like I could evaluate my intentions a lot easier than in an electronic app.
I tried a bunch of different planners over the years; some I found just became another to-do list, and others did help me reflect on my values and time spent.
But after I discovered the Monk Manual about a year ago, I just kept going back to it. It was the only one that really helped me find that sense of peace and accomplishment that I was looking for at the end of the day.
I was also intrigued by all of Steven’s research on the monastic lifestyle, and how monks manage to be one of the most productive people around despite it looking like all they do is pray and chant.
The reality is that most people just want to feel the peace of a simpler lifestyle. This is also proven by the popularity of Jay Shetty’s book, “Think Like A Monk”. Therefore, I wanted to bring Steven to the show.
(If you missed this episode and want to listen in on the full conversation, click here.)
Create A Solid Foundation For Your Day
Society has taught us that productivity has to do with working harder and hustling. That somehow if we do more, then we are more successful. But being busy is just an illusion.
The Monk Manual helps me set my monthly goals, weekly goals, and then look at my daily tasks to make sure that it’s in alignment with I want to accomplish over the month and week. It supports me in not buying into the illusion and being purposeful instead.
I’ve seen complaints by people who have tried the Monk Manual that it’s too redundant, that you write the same goals over again. Well duh, THAT’S THE POINT!
Every time you write down a to-do, you can make the CONSCIOUS decision whether it’s still of value, of good use of your time, and/or will help you create the life you want. It forces you to keep going back and looking at your time spent so you don’t get distracted.
Please note, I realize that not everyone is going to resonate with the Monk Manual which is why in my Morning Magic course I review several different planners that I found to be close. But the key here is finding a system that helps you to intentionally focus on what you want to achieve without getting off track.
Whenever I plan my day, I ask myself…
- Is this activity going to foster growth in this particular area (relationships, health, finances, etc.)?
- Is this truly my goal or am I trying to please someone else?
- Is it going to get me to where I want to go?
- Is it within my zone of genius or reflective of my higher purpose (for work-related tasks)?
If I don't set a strong foundation for my day, then I find myself getting sucked down the rabbit hole of other people's agendas.
The FIRST step to stop being busy and feeling purposeful and productive at the end of the day is to slow yourself down enough to pay attention to what you are doing. You can’t do this unless you allow yourself some time either in the morning or evening to intentionally reflect and use a tool that will support you in doing this.
If you find yourself waking up each morning feeling stressed, anxious, and frazzled, I invite you to check out the Monk Manual and then head on over to my Morning Magic course to get you feeling calm, collected, and confident instead.