I've yet to meet a woman either personally or professionally who isn't hard on herself about getting things done. "I still need to get to the grocery store," or "I wish I could get a workout in" or "I'm not performing as well as I could be at work." All of these goals are worthwhile, yet if our daily focus is on what we haven't achieved, we are starting from a negative standpoint.
When we constantly berate ourselves on what we haven't done or accomplished, it makes it hard to muster up the emotional and physical stamina to change our circumstances. The negative energy it takes to be unhappy with ourselves keeps us from actually doing what we want to do. These messages just trigger our mind and body to shut down. Would you say those same things to a girlfriend if she was struggling with stress and overwhelmed?
If, on the other hand, we approach our days, weeks, and months with kindness and compassion for ourselves, we might find that we are happier and more productive at the same time. Forcing ourselves to be productive when really we need to rest for a few minutes will not only make us less productive, but also unhappy about it. We can't constantly be moving forward and that's really ok.
Often growth and productive activity comes from times of steady stability and rest. If you feel as if you are spinning your wheels, you probably are not gathering your strength when you can. What are you saying to yourself when you need a rest or to be calm for a while? Are you calling yourself lazy or useless? Are you constantly nagging yourself in your head to do more and do it quickly? If so, you are likely keeping yourself from both creative productivity and joy.
So how can you actually slow down in order to become more productive? The best way is to change your mindset. If you start your day by saying, "I'll never get this all done," it is a pretty sure bet that you won't. Start your day by taking a realistic look at your to do list. If the list is impossible, cut it down. If it is possible, then think about ways to schedule what you want to accomplish that day. Finally, if things don't go as planned, forgive yourself and move on. You can't change the past so why be so hard on yourself?
The biggest problem with the need to be constantly busy is that we feel like we are failing if we aren't busy all the time. It keeps us from enjoying any aspect of our lives. Rest isn't enjoyable if we are thinking of the next thing to do. Allow yourself the time and space to enjoy down time so that when you want to move forward, you will be ready to do so with lots of energy and happiness to spare.
Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist, life coach, and married mother of three. You can find her at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com or email her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com.