I don’t know about you, but the 24 hours of my day have been feeling particularly full lately. The culprit? Productivity. I’ve read plenty of articles by masters of productivity. You know the ones. These people get up at obscene hours like 4 a.m. and start their day the moment their feet hit the ground. By the time most of us have just opened our eyes, they’ve accomplished half a day of work! While I wake up a solid 2 hours after these monsters, I have been making attempts to fill as many moments of my day as I can with things that will contribute to my productivity.
Very rarely am I doing just one thing at a time. In fact, I’ve become a master of the mundane double act. Take my morning routine for example. I listen to the previous night’s 6 o’clock news while I’m working out. I boil the kettle while I shower. I tune into The New York Times’ daily podcast while I sip my coffee and finish off my morning oats, and my day continues this way. Any time I’m out walking – to and from work or during a lunch break – I accompany the act by some sort of inspirational podcast or audiobook to keep me pumped up.
In an effort to ignite my creative spark that isn’t always primed and ready, or bulk up my general knowledge or let’s just say it – attempt to become a more interesting person – I find that the majority of my day is spent putting myself in the way of knowledge and better examples. Actually, it’s more of a pummeling. I’m constantly pummeling myself with these things and hoping something sticks. Recently, after an in-office group exercise that involved heavy breathing (don’t ask), I’ve added meditation to this list of things meant to better my existence. Why’d I do it? Well – I’ve heard that 10 minutes of the stuff can feel like a whole night of rest. That it can calm your mind, streamline your thinking and unlock creativity you didn’t even know existed. All things on my personal bucket list of self-improvement.
For my next double act – lunch with a side of mindfulness! I downloaded Headspace, and have been taking any 10-minute window of free, alone(ish) time to *meditate*. Their guided packs (I’ve tried the ones for self-esteem, stress, happiness, kindness, relationships, creativity) walk you through breathing exercises and visualization techniques meant to help in the above-listed areas of your life. The second I’m done my coffee, and my partner is in the shower you better believe I’m taking 10 minutes to picture a little speck of light in my chest that is growing. If you’ve seen me in the park on my lunch break staring at the ground, breathing steadily, but unable to close my eyes fully in public for fear of weirding people out, you now know I was attempting to envision my body filling with a warm sunlight. Why? All in that ongoing quest to #livemybestlife.
While the 250 minutes I’ve spent meditating so far has helped bring clarity to my intentions, I have to admit none of these self-improvement tactics – mindfulness included – have helped me to focus. If anything they’ve now become just more ways to fill my head and busy my thoughts further. As I sit at my desk (not unlike one Carrie Bradshaw) I have to wonder, is productivity the problem? Is this constant, self-inflicted inundation of productivity for the sake of betterment burning us out and over-stimulating us? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Either way, it doesn’t mean we can’t make room to chill out now and then. *Adds chilling out to to-do list immediately*. It’s all about finding that ever-elusive balance. The quest continues!