Do you go through wildly productive creative periods, then feel as if everything’s gone off the rails?
You know. Those times when you’re stuck in the NOT IMPORTANT / NOT URGENT quadrant of busy work (a la 7 Habit of Highly Effective People). No work getting done that actually brings in the bacon, but so much time with devices that you feel busy).
You’re doing a whole lot of:
- A) research — a hundred tabs open into the WWW rabbit hole. Another Masters degree, perhaps?!
- B) listening to podcasts and judging yourself for not being more like that APPARENTLY WILDLY SUCCESSFUL PERSON SO MANY DOWNLOADS
- C) scrolling through social media and feeling overwhelmed by the whole world
- D) my personal favorite: What TV series haven’t I binge-watched yet?! It’s work-related because I’m getting ideas, right?!
Not only is the work output manic, a jagged up and down line of on and off productivity. But you start to feel overwhelmed, and then depleted, and defeated. Depressed, actually.
So much to do, so much info-overload, and…so many productivity hacks. And yet. Shit. It’s 4pm and nothing on the to-do list got crossed off. And it’s almost wine o’clock!
Other days, (if only they happened MORE often!) you have this blazing clarity and focus. So much gets done before breakfast that you feel as if everything you can dream up is actually possible. Doable.
Beware: This is when the Idea Fairy comes to visit and so many false starts get started.
I’ve observed this phenomenon of on/off productivity in my own life with curiosity, confoundedness (is that a word?) and—depending on how far low the productivity has dropped: shame.
When I first started blogging, back in 2002, my productivity was so on/off up and down, that I wondered if the casual reader would actually be able to guess where I was in my menstrual cycle based on my posting “schedule”.
I also remember thinking: Well, that’s a bit paranoid. And then being relieved that if I thought my thinking was paranoid, then that meant I probably wasn’t paranoid in a clinical sense.
It wasn’t until I saw another writer share about how she struggled so long about how to write her blog posts and emails.
This is a not only a writer I read and admire: she’s a copywriter!!!!
Meaning: she writes things like blogs posts and emails for a living. It’s her job.
Cue thunderbolt of insight to the head.
A million dots just connected in that moment.
Earlier today, I participated in a couple of different business masterminds, where I witnessed highly competent, creative, smart people struggle with the very things they are known for helping their clients overcome.
We were all able to laugh about it. Not be ashamed at the ironic irony of it all.
I wondered: is there a facepalm emoji out there? Too lazy to look.
So this is what I’ve got for you today:
- Notice your creative cycles for a week. Maybe even document, on a scale of 1-10, least to most productive. Give your day a number. Note if there are times of day where your productivity soars, fades or nosedives completely.
You’re just looking for data. No judgement.
- Notice what you’re struggling with in your work right now. Maybe struggle is too mild a word. What absolutely sucks so bad, that you’d be embarrassed or ashamed if anyone found out?
Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask you to write this down and pass it to the person next you. (I hate it when that happens in workshops!) This is for your own information only.
Bonus points if what you are struggling with is exactly what you so brilliantly solve for other people. Gold stars for you!!!
What do you think is up with that?
This is my question and mini creative challenge for you today.
It’s exactly what I am wondering about and working on. More on that next time.
Meanwhile, will you let me know if you have any a-ha moments or connect any dots?
Does any of this resonate?