I subscribe to a few “productivity” blogs. You know, the kind that tell you how to work smarter and get more things done, and typically recommend downloading lots of apps that promise to make your life better.
I’m not sure why I read them. I guess at some level I’m attracted to the idea of being über productive. I have lots of ideas, and often feel that I’m not doing enough to realize them.
THE IRONY IS NOT LOST ON ME. IF I’M READING A BLOG ABOUT PRODUCTIVITY, I AM NOT, IN THAT MOMENT, BEING PRODUCTIVE.
I also find myself resisting a lot of the tips and strategies, and resenting the effort they require. I’m not a lazy person, but I think my resistance to some of the Cult of Productivity advice is based on a deep-seated desire for ease. As in, “Put your mind at ease.” Or, “Ease on down the road.” Or, “Easy peasy.”
Not all the time. I like being challenged at my job, for example. And I’ve always been incredibly averse to the idea of making tons of money, even if it were an option, because of the overabundance of ease it might bring into my life.
Too much ease would be terrible.
I’m looking for the kind of ease that lets me sleep when I need to, rest when I want to, and comfortably ignore any advice aimed at making me more productive.
I also want to be the kind of person people would say is “quick to laugh.” (Is there a better thing that can be said about a person?)
Here’s my syllabus for a master class in how to take it easy. You will not find any advice that will make you more productive, you will not earn a “black belt in being awesome,” you will not be more accomplished for having read it. You will just be more at ease.
LESSON 1: FORGIVE YOURSELF
If you mess up in a bad way, the quickest way to move on is to own up to it, name your feelings, and let them go. That last part is the hardest, but is made much easier by doing the first two. I’ve found this also works for feelings of embarrassment, another ease-killer. Own it, name it, let it go.
LESSON 2: FORGIVE OTHERS
What anger are you holding onto right now? Can you let it go? For realsies? The question I always ask myself before I get on a plane, just in case it goes down, is, “Am I right with all the people in my life?” I’ve found that the best paths to forgiveness are time and meditation, but find what works for you.
LESSON 3: TAKE BREAKS. AND NAPS.
Ease is found in slowing down, in silence, and when at rest. Take mini-breaks during the day. Schedule free time during the course of a project. Take seasonal breaks from big life efforts. Take vacations. And don’t forget to nap whenever you can, even if it’s just once a year. (Like bears!)
LESSON 4: GET RID OF EXCESS STUFF.
Clothes. Objects. Social media. Bad friends. Even (gulp) books. They are taking your attention away from what’s important, and they are causing dis-ease.
LESSON 5: PRACTICE OPTIMISM.
I’m in the “optimism is a skill” camp, even though I know some people are predisposed to pessimism. Like many things, if you’re not naturally optimistic, you can fake it ‘till you make it. Practice saying, “Things will work out,” even if you don’t believe it. Build the habit. It is so much easier than being pessimistic.
LESSON 6: FIND THE LEVITY.
My mom used to say to me, “You’ve lost your sense of humor.” She said it a lot because I was a Very Serious Child. Now I tell myself this whenever I catch myself making a stinkface or putting on my grumpypants. It’s kind of amazing how quickly you can find your sense of humor, once you recognize that you’ve lost it.
If you can cultivate ease in your own life, you’re in the terrific position of being able to make life easier for someone else. And that’s where the real magic happens.
How do you take it easy?