Saturday, August 4, 2018

How I Remain Productive Amidst Chaos

Me, productive in July?? At first blush, not really. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I accomplished. It was a productive blur of craziness. I don't know about you, but I really want to know how I managed that.

OK, so first off I was not as productive as I wanted to be in certain things. However, some of the other things that ate my time were equally productive. (Hello, work?) So I think it's important to remember that every kind of productivity is productive.

If you're like me this means you get really good at productive procrastination. I think that basically sums up my July.

The aerial view of my life in July was being out of town the first two weeks and at work the last two weeks. Sounds like a recipe for productivity, right? Well ... yes, actually.

While out of town, I expected to:
  • finish reading Thief of Corinth
  • have ample quiet time to write toward my goal of 30k
  • start reading The Blue Castle
  • work for my aunt
  • see fireworks once
  • do some work on the train ride home

What I actually did:
  • finished reading Thief of Corinth
  • wrote half a chapter and then got a pedicure
  • wrote the other half a chapter and ate ice cream
  • enjoyed multiple Starbucks
  • binge-read The Blue Castle
  • attended my first major league baseball game and saw fireworks three times
  • binge-read Where the Woods Grow Wild
  • binge-watched Lord of the Rings with my cousins
  • worked for my aunt AKA created flowers for two beautiful metroplex weddings
  • had a movie night/sleepover with my other cousins
  • googled things to do in NYC and visit with the girl next to me on the train ride home
Are you seeing a pattern here? Some things didn't happen so my inclination is to call it all unproductive. But actually a ton happened. No, it wasn't all productive, but it was all worth it. I'm not going to apologize for my goals; goals are a good thing. But I'm not going to kick myself (too much) for not hitting them all either. Sometimes I think we need to adjust our expectations and look at what we accomplished instead.

While back home and working, I expected to:
  • babysit
  • do secretary work
  • go to church
  • house sit
  • celebrate my brother's birthday
  • hit my Camp NaNo goal (now reduced to 10k)
  • plan something for the Andora's Folly birthday
  • edit for Kellyn
What I actually did:
  • babysit, getting reading time, writing time, and treated to lunch
  • joined a youth club to support local candidates
  • did secretary work and handed out our info at a back-to-school event
  • heard some of the best sermons ever and visited with friends
  • binge-watched a TV show with my sister
  • got down time at someone else's empty house and watched a movie
  • decorated for an Incredibles 2 birthday party
  • taught Sunday School
  • had family in town
  • attended a friend's violin recital
  • did two sales, a giveaway, a painting, and more for Andora's Folly's birthday
  • got over 200 downloads of Andora's Folly for its birthday (!!!!)
  • hit my Camp NaNo goal of 10k
  • almost finished editing for Kellyn
  • wrote at a coffee shop
  • researched NYC again at a coffee shop
Again, didn't technically do that all quite how I planned ... Being a goal-setter and general list-maker, that can initially be a little traumatizing. But I'm learning that things outside of plans aren't always bad. Being flexible is often a good thing.

Of course, deadlines must still be met and we can't shirk our responsibilities. That's not what I'm suggesting. But I think the only reason I was able to be as productive as I was in what was a very out-of-the-norm month was because I let myself branch out. Yes, that's right. Deviating from the plan can help be productive.

Everyone needs breaks, so make them worthwhile. All the non-negotiables and random things that popped up were nice breaks from all my to-do list items. Conversely, all my to-do list items were sometimes relaxing and different from how I earn money. In other words, I have "work-work" and "passion-work." One's always a nice break from the other.

Being productive isn't always fun, but fun can be productive. Breaks are productive simply because they energize me to keep going. TV shows and movies are blatant relaxations, but that doesn't mean I won't learn something or get a new story idea. ;) I guess it helps that I never fully switch my mind off. That means I can do things that keep me from burning out without it being a complete waste of time.

That's how I define productivity: it's less checking everything off the to-do list and more using my time well.

There's not a set formula to being productive of course, but those are some of the things that ended up helping me this month! I can't guarantee I'll be able to read that much or even write that much this month, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. Everything's always worth a try!

I mean, let's be honest. As healthy as planning/goal-setting is, it's part of life to have plans change. Embracing all the crazy, fun things amidst my endless to-do list and letting a few things go paid off in the end. I have more memories as a result and didn't sacrifice much in the process.

It all comes down to balance. A thousand sayings sum it up. "All work and no play," imbalance. "Be in the world but not of the world" an easier-said-than-done goal for balance. The good news is we don't have to figure it all out alone, at least not if we think to ask God. In the end, I'm motivated to get things done so I have time to have fun. Meet the deadlines, but live a little.

I have to close with this Max Lucado quote because I feel like it was providential that I stumbled upon it while writing this post.

Guess what? This blog post was productive procrastination. It needed to happen, but I was only motivated to do it because I should have been billing for my dad, editing for a friend, or getting ready for bed instead. It's amazing what happens.

I mentioned all that stuff I did for Andora's Folly? The giveaway ends today, so you can still enter here! Or you can read the full post I did about the book's birthday here.

Have a good week, and prepare for an epic guest post next Saturday!


  1. I low key have no idea what this is but I also love it so much???

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

  2. So love how you compared what you hoped to do to what you did. Such a great outlook ;) But I so agree - productivity is about how well we use our time, not stressing over the time we don't have ;)

    1. Thanks! I think it's an outlook I need to work on. Otherwise things just get frustrating for me. ;P Yep, it's hard to remember to do that sometimes! At least for me ;)

  3. THIS IS SUCH A WONDERFUL POST. I kind of want to make a list like that for my summer now, just to lay everything out in front of me and see what all I've really done.

  4. This is a great post! I love looking at the various sides of productivity and understanding what it really means. This was yet another way for me to do that, so thank you for writing it! Keep up your hard work!


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