I’ve recently been thinking a lot about focus and productivity. Partly because planning a wedding requires a lot of getting sh*t done! But also because our current book group book is Deep Work by Cal Newport
The book is about the importance of and how to acheive a ‘deep work state’. That state of mind where you’re completely immersed in what you’re doing with no distractions
Ironically – I didn’t reach the ‘how to’ section because I was finding the book really difficult to focus on and got distracted by and started reading The Girl Who Played With Fire instead!
The main reason I lost interest in Deep Work was it’s focus on success in work. It doesn’t seem to look at how being less distracted and more present can benefit our general well-being (perhaps I just didn’t get to that bit!).
Earlier this year I was feeling quite frustrated and was complaining to the soon to be Mr Weston (less than two weeks!) that I wasn’t getting much work done or ticking anything off my list. He asked what I had actually been doing instead of work and it turned out that I’d achieved a huge amount that week! He suggested that I re-frame the way I look at things and instead of thinking ‘I didn’t do the thing I intended to do’ try simply thinking ‘I had a productive day’.
It sounds like such a simple thing but it’s made a huge difference to how I view my productivity. Sometimes we’re not in the right mind-set to do something but push ourselves to do it because it’s on the list. Often that’s necessary, but sometimes it’s a job that can wait and maybe you can switch it with something you were planning to do tomorrow. It’s still productive!
This re-framing means I’ve been going with what feels right rather than what I planned. That might mean I’m sewing my wedding top when I should’ve been pattern writting or doing work knitting when I should’ve been doing my tax return! It’s made me more aware of how my focus and productivity changes throughout the day/week.
I’ve never been a morning person and I definitely gravitate towards short jobs that don’t require much thought pre-lunch with more focused ‘deep work’ jobs (such as writting blogs and designing) in the afternoon or evening. This is also true across the week with me preferring shorter less focussed jobs at the beginning of the week through to more immersive jobs at the end of the week. Turns out I actually love admin on a Monday and have zero interest in keeping my accounts up to date by Friday!
It’s not always possible to just do the work you feel like doing and there are often jobs which we’d prefer to put off indefinitely (the tax return!). But having a greater understanding of when I’m most productive at certain type’s of activities has been hugely beneficial for me. It makes it easier to plan your days for maximum efficiency and work feels less like work!
So don’t believe everything that social media tells you… you don’t have to get up at 5am, do yoga and eat chia seeds to be successful and productive. We’re all different and you just have to find what works for you!