by Susan Sherayko
Do you believe that the words “author” and “productivity” have to be mutually exclusive? After all, writing is creative. It comes at the whim of our muse. Or does it?
I work with writers every day who generate content on a daily basis, meet deadlines and avoid writer’s block. As writers, they take up the challenges of bringing their publications to a worldwide audience through a variety of media, and build successful careers, just as I build upon my book to turn it into a springboard for workshops and additional content. To meet all the challenges and activities required to accomplish all of it requires productivity.
So what exactly helps improve productivity? What are the obstacles that we encounter and what we can do about them?
The challenge we face stems from the complicated beings that people are. We are made of physical bodies, going through life with a variety of emotions, thoughts coming from an array of outer inputs and an inner life. These elements may or may not be in conflict at any one time and it can put roadblocks in our way. To avoid them, recognize that we are of two minds: Outer and Inner consciousness.
Our outer conscious mind receives input from our senses and expresses through tangible things and activities. This is generally where we can provide components in our environment that support our writing goals.
- Physically, it helps to supply ourselves the resources required to get the job done, maintain the physical place in which we operate, provide the bio-supports, schedules and routines, and the ability to collaborate when we wish that optimize our results, Unless our physical setting supports our work, we will see an immediate slowing in value and productivity.
- I have found that high productivity is experienced in an environment with well-defined routines, scheduled time for preparation, and very real deadlines. In the beginning – and for many self-directed projects, time is carved out from our “leisure” time, just as money is reallocated from our discretionary income. The question becomes one of establishing priorities among the multiple tasks involve that all contribute to our goals and desires.
- If deadlines influence productivity, we face a challenge. In the beginning of a venture, we have very few deadlines. Is it possible to build “artificial” deadlines into our creative schedule? Is it enough to sketch it out on a calendar when there are no consequences? When delivery is imminent, our time constraints are real. We have to deliver even if we have to work all night to do it.
- This is where working with an accountability coach, a mentor, a mastermind group or mastery class is so immensely valuable. Even though these communities of like-minded people impose few deadlines with consequences, there is an impetus to perform well within the group. And perhaps even more importantly, they become our support system. The successful achievement of any goal requires persistent focus, action and a belief that we can do it. The individuals with whom we surround ourselves become the “loving mirrors” who help us stick with it and believe in ourselves.
- Physical surroundings can have a negative impact on our emotional life too. Stress rises when there is a lack of balance between work and rest. We may not be able to eliminate it entirely, but common areas to interact, aesthetic surroundings, and ways and means to recreate and release stress help. So do the routines that tell us where and when we need to be somewhere, doing a specific task. When we know what is expected of us, have the tools to do it and reliable outcomes, we feel better. We also have to plan for real life, not just our “work,” even if it is our passion.
- We also improve productivity when we can provide an environment in which open, receptive communication is possible. People like to have some control over their life experience and the opportunity to be heard makes an overall difference.
- Within our Thoughts, we find the seeds for the greatest obstacles to productivity. When the combination of thoughts, feelings and actions expresses itself as a negative or bad attitude, it creates a poisonous infection that is recognized by those with whom we interact. It’s important for us maintain a positive attitude to maintain high positive results. When you find yourself leaning toward the negative, it’s important to have confidantes, coaches, mentors, and those who believe in us easily accessible. As they listen, they can identify the source of our negativity, and help us talk through our preferences and what would have to be done in order to achieve them.
- How we think plays a huge part in personal productivity. Brain research has revealed that as part of our survival mechanism, we automatically default to negative thinking when faced with new information and challenges. What we often fail to realize is that we can think of the negative or we can think of the positive. We have the power of choice. However, the mind defaults to the problem that causes us pain. In our desire to eliminate pain, we spend too much time thinking about it. When we seek solutions, it’s a little touchy, a fine line that easily draws us back into the issue. That can cause us to get in our own way.
- To prevent that, it helps to use specific techniques to follow a train of thought that leads us to what you would like the desired results look and feel like. By using positive self-talk, Afformations, perceptual shift logs, creative visualizations and examining contrasts, people can change their negative thinking dramatically and achieve rapid, positive results. That’s why I start my day with meditation and journaling. I want to open to possibilities early in the day, before distractions and activities intrude.
- This takes us into the second aspect of mind, our subconscious or nonconscious mind. Along with being responsible for maintaining our survival and all our autonomous body functions below the level of awareness, the subconscious is also the place from which intuition, inspiration, imagination and feelings emerge. And in using positive questions, we are also accessing another of its inherent functions – to serve as a search engine to help us resolve problems. We need to ask questions, listen and sense guidance that we can put into action. When we take the time, we enhance our productivity and our results. When you develop these techniques, there are some real benefits, ranging from immediate emotional relief to clarity of thought and guidance out of the blue. If you act on these ideas as soon as possible, opportunities and connections appear. They’ve been there all along, but your focus needed to shift to become aware of them. Then a path appears. “Overnight,” your productivity increases. Obstructions and thoughts of “impossibility” vanish and you are doing “it.” Progress can be incredibly fast.
To review, to improve your productivity, I’d suggest the following:
- Be clear on your vision and plan accordingly. When your own thoughts pull you off course, redirect them so you stay focused on the desired results.
- Set up an environment in which you can be productive. Place all your supplies around you ahead of time so you don’t have to go search for them and get distracted. Do enough preparation to know what you need.
- Get into a ritual of how you set up for each project. Have your materials, writing implements, tissues, water bottle, clock or anything else you routinely need while working right next to you so you don’t have to jump up and down and interrupt your progress.
- Know yourself. Do you write best in the morning? Is it better to write for a few hours and then shift to other tasks that still benefit your overall productivity, i.e., research, phone calls, or technical tasks?
- Take breaks at convenient times. Brain experts tell us that we should focus for 45 minutes, then take 15 minutes off to walk or do something entirely different to function at our best.
- Surround yourself with a support team on a timetable that increases your productivity. I find getting together weekly is best for me. Any more often and I do not have enough time to prepare for the next meeting. Once a month doesn’t give me enough impetus.
- Make time for your Inner Game. It’s a source of inspiration and solutions. If you have yet to explore your relationship to your subconscious mind, I can only share that it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and I highly recommend it.
Ultimately, our ability to achieve high productivity is improved when we define clear goals, focus on them and pay attention to the diverse requirements (physical, emotional, conscious and nonconscious) required to make them happen. Start with yourself and watch how it expands into all areas of your life.
About Susan: Executive in Charge of Production and Emmy nominated Line Producer for “Home and Family” on Hallmark Channel, Author, Rainbows Over Ruins, host, podcast series, “Rebuilding Your Life: Moving from Disaster to Prosperity,” Susan Sherayko supports others as they rebuild their lives after experiencing significant loss.
Susan utilizes her training in psychosynthesis, the knowledge gained as an empowered spiritual life coach, techniques learned with Bob Proctor and LifeSuccess Productions, and Noah St. John at the Success Clinic to make this possible. Susan lives with her family on a 5 acre ranch with a small frontier town they created when they rebuilt after a landslide.
Susan’s Book: Rainbows Over Ruins is an autobiographical journey describing the process that helps us overcome disaster as we rebuild our lives.