Productivity is all about integration. Individuals often mentally divide up several aspects of their life into separate categories and then find themselves short of time to allocate to each section.
No matter your goals or level of motivation, there are only 24 hours in each day. So when it's all said and done, the amount of time you spend working on your passions and goals never feels like enough to make substantial progress.
As a life coach, writer, licensed therapist, and doctorate student, I know what it feels like to have a lot of things on your plate at one time. Like the rest of you, I recognize what it feels like to have an exponential list of tasks to complete, pressure mounting from all directions, and the physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that comes with trying to achieve your goals.
How can you both achieve your dreams, continue to climb the ladder at work, and maintain healthy relationships all while enjoying each moment?
The answer is simple: integrate.
Here are four ways to integrate your life, achieve your goals, and increase productivity:
1. Maximize efficiency during transitions.
Stop wasting your precious time playing Pokemon Go.
Instead of getting frustrated and overwhelmed when you have too much to do and are failing to achieve your personal and professional goals, examine how you spend your time.
So often we numb ourselves and try to make ourselves feel better by playing games on our iPhones when we could be enriching our lives. If you commute via a train or bus to work, you'd be surprised how quickly you can read a book when you use that time to read.
If you drive, you'd be amazed at how proficient you could become at learning a language, expanding your mind with audiobooks, or improving your ability to articulate your thoughts aloud all by practicing during your down time.
When waiting in lines, stop opening social media apps, and start checking and returning email. If you're stuck in traffic, stop wasting energy getting angry at things you can't control, and start engaging in mindfulness meditation (with your eyes open).
Take charge of your transitions and start adding value to your life.
2. Re-frame your tasks and responsibilities.
Appreciate the challenge. If you want to start getting things done, you need to stop complaining about how much is on your plate and start viewing each setback and each challenge as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
While you may have more things to do than is realistically achievable, you can lesson the mental and emotional strain by focusing on how much you'll learn from each task, and how each small detail connects to your larger goals.
3. Integrate your professional and personal lives.
This is the most important item on the list, so pay attention.
Make your personal goals fit into your professional goals. For me, this means picking fun books to read that also help me become a better therapist. This means getting enjoyment out of exercising while improving my physical health and amplifying my energy levels. This means meditating for mental health, which also increases my ability to focus for long periods of time without giving attention to passing thoughts.
Instead of thinking about your life as separate categories with no overlap, start finding ways to connect your various interests and goals into a common web so that when you're doing one task for fun, you're also adding value to your professional aspirations.
Integration takes time and practice, but the result is maximum productivity and greater enjoyment of each moment.
4. Know when to hit the reset button.
Learning when to disconnect and recharge your mental, physical, and emotional batteries is one of the most valuable skills a productive individual can have.
As a life coach, therapist, and psychologist-in-training, it's all too common for high-achieving clients to run themselves into the ground and then wonder why their productivity is dropping and they aren't getting enjoyment out of their lives anymore.
The truth is, you can only learn when to hit the pause button by pushing yourself and expanding your stamina.
At the same time, it's important to listen to your intuition and your body when they say enough is enough. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is take a few days off and start fresh.
Take charge of your life. Be mindful of transitions, re-frame your tasks, integrate your interests, and know when to pause. The more that you practice these skills, the greater your productivity will become.
You can become both a great person and a polished professional when you integrate your life.