Feeling Productive

Lately I’ve noticed at the end of some days, or after a long weekend, that I don’t feel like I accomplished anything. Do you ever get that feeling?

In the past, I’ve been pretty diligent about making a “things to do” list for work. But lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a bit lazy. I used to start my week by writing a list of my biggest projects or important meetings to accomplish for the week, crossing items off my list as I complete them, and adding more as the week goes on. I number my list, as I love to see a long list of things to do and get great pleasure in crossing things off. It actually gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

And, over the years, I’ve used this same technique in my personal life, making “things to do” lists each Saturday morning to make sure I don’t forget any of those errands and projects I need to complete on the weekend. But after this past weekend, I had to ask myself, why do I feel so draggy? I’ve stopped making my weekend list and keep forgetting to do things, like pick up my prescription at the pharmacy.

Why is this happening to me?

Well, as it turns out, I am not the only one experiencing this. In this Forbes article my feelings were confirmed that the pandemic has created a new kind of burnout. As I read this article about the ebb and flow of peoples’ motivation and productivity during the last 18 months—including leaders and executives like myself—I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The yo-yo effect of good news followed by bad news has worn me down. And being worn down has caused me not to follow my standard practice of making a list of things to do, and it has also caused me to be more tired than usual each evening. I have noticed that I am looking toward the bedroom closer to 8:30 p.m. each evening and getting at least 8 hours of sleep is the norm now.

And even my daily practice of exercise, whether it is a long run at the beach, rowing, or taking a class on the Peloton, has lost some of its appeal.

But frankly, reading that others are experiencing this made me feel better. It’s not just me.

Once I recognized that I have an issue and labeled it (burnout), I suddenly feel like I can overcome it.

How about you?  Have you been struggling with work-life balance? By the way, it is now referred to as work-life engagement. There is no magic formula, or percentage that makes our work lives and personal lives perfectly balanced. It changes daily, weekly and sometimes based on our age or stage in life.

We thrive and are at our best when we have a sense of engagement in both our professional and personal lives. And for me, having a balance of busy time and free time in both areas of my life makes me a happier person.

At work, I’ve started the practice of limiting my meetings. When I look at my daily outlook calendar, I make sure my meetings are not stacked. Having at least 30 minutes between meetings, and not having too many pre-scheduled meetings allows me thinking and breathing time. In fact, at my company I’ve encouraged my management team to un-invite themselves to all meetings which they don’t feel will be productive or could be handled by an email memo.

In my personal life, I’ve resurrected making my “things to do” list so things get done vs. lingering as “oh, I forgot to do that” items. I’ve also started to schedule fun things on the calendar in advance, so I am not just hanging out or vegging over the weekend. I’m adding exercise time to my daily “things to do list,” as I know that the endorphins I get from exercise lift my spirit and give me more energy.

Are you in denial about how you are feeling? Do you find yourself a little crabbier with your family or co-workers? Do you end some days saying to yourself “I don’t feel like I accomplished anything today” and feel like you have been in a fog?

Maybe it’s time to hit the reset button. Is it time for a day off, a short vacation, or some quiet time? Is it time to make a list of everything you want to do, whether that includes projects at home or work, or is it time to plan a vacation or call your best friend?

I hope you’re like me. Once you think about the issue, you can make a list, take time to think about it, and make a decision to do something different. All this actually reminds me of one of my favorite books:  The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. And while you’re at it, check out her newest book, which was just published this week: The High 5 Habit.

You can do it!

Karen