People in the wedding and events industries work incredibly hard. We give up weeknights to network. We give up weekends to put on events. And we work every day to put together these events. While we work extremely hard, we don’t always work smart. Because we have flexibility and are in charge of our schedule, there are days we get caught into an unproductive work cycle.
We all know the signs of being unproductive:
- doing laundry because we don’t want to face a nagging work task
- spending a tad too much time on twitter and facebook
- getting ensnarled into a web of link-clicking on youtube and wikipedia
- working on an insignificant task because we are avoiding a larger one
The Guilt of Unproductivity
For years I have felt guilty about this. Generally I’m pretty “on task”. I became smarter at how I work when I gave birth 3 years ago. But, there are still days that I fall into an unproductive cycle. And, it has bothered me. I would get to the end of my day and wonder where my day went and why I didn’t accomplish more.
What Impedes Productivity?
A few months ago, I decided to stop beating myself up about this. Being an investigative sort, I wanted to get to the root of this. Why would I have a few weeks of super-productive work and then have an “off” week? I was good about removing interruptions from my schedule, so that was not it. I’d been in business for a few years, so while fear may have affected me in the past, this was not the case here.
What I found were 2 factors that most affected my productivity: loneliness and tiredness.
Loneliness as it Affected my Work
The less significant factor, but one that affected my work was the feeling of isolation and a little bit of loneliness. Yes, I was lonely. It’s a two-edged sword with me. I prefer to work alone. Even when others are around me, I like to zone in and concentrate. I’m easily distracted by things so I generally don’t like people talking to me while I’m working. And while I usually have shared my office with one or two others (my husband and/or my employees), there was still a feeling of loneliness. I think I longed for the masses. My husband teases me because I always want to “be among the masses”. I like commotion and busy-ness and this doesn’t happen in a work environment of 3 people. So, how did I correct this? I have made sure to work from somewhere busy at least once a week. Usually it’s a coffeehouse. It feeds my soul and it keeps me productive.
Tiredness as it Affected my Work
The more significant factor affecting my productivity was tiredness. Tiredness continues to affect me on days where I just drag. When I’m tired I get 1 thing done for every 10 things I could accomplish if well-rested. I carry the albatross of being a night owl. Going to bed before midnight is an incredible challenge for me. And there is no sleeping in late when preschool beckons a 8am drop-off. There are days I don’t get enough sleep. And, it definitely affects my “go get’m” attitude. The best thing I’ve learned is to not try to fight this. For years I tried to ignore how tired I would feel on some days. “I just have to charge through” is what I thought. The truth is that there was NO charging being done whatsoever.
Accept, Acknowledge, Move On
So, how do I fight this? First, I accept and acknowledge it. Just knowing that I am having an “off” day because I’m tired makes me feel more in control. I’m not as hard on myself. Knowing that I’m tired forces me to take charge of what I can: “OK, things are going to move a little slower today. What are the 3 things you MUST get done?” It’s so much easier to focus on 3 things rather than 20 things when tired. And, you end the day feeling good for doing your 3 things instead of guilty for not doing 20. And, if I can, I take a nap. I honestly don’t do this more than a couple times a month. I should probably nap more often. But, like so many of you out there, I feel guilty. However, when I do take that nap, I feel so much more recharged and focused. I’m much more productive. It’s better to have a productive 6 hour day rather than an unproductive 8 hour day (or 16 hour day).
Identifying the reasons why I experience periods of unproductivity has been really good for me and my work. I feel less guilty. I beat myself up less. And, I’m able to work around the problem instead of trying to battle it.
How about you? What affects your productivity?