Your Worth Is Not Your To-Do List: 4 Ways to Support A Healthier Mentality Around Productivity

BY JASMINE MARIE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEUN IVORY.

We’re five months into 2018, and if you’ve found yourself circling into cycles of negative self-talk and habits from not accomplishing all that’s on your daily to-do list, this message is for you (and me — because all advice comes from self-navigated lessons). 

We live in a society where we’re constantly measuring and attaching our worthiness to what we produce and how we produce it. Whether it’s reading the latest trending article about how this entrepreneur completed all these tasks in one day, and comparing our own messy journey to their seemingly “got it all together-ness,” or beating ourselves up about celebrating another birthday not accomplishing all we set out by that time frame because life occurred— it happens to us all. 

However, my recent experiences have taught and shown me that there’s a better — and more importantly —  a healthier way of actualizing the life we wish to live. Below are four ways to reclaim your power daily and protect your mind from falling into the trap that ties your worth to your to-do list. *Please note for the topics sake that these four ways appear more put-together than when they first came to me.

  1. Take note of your energy in the present moment and adjust your work flow accordingly. We often plan what we want to achieve and do in life as if we live in a constant state, instead of the reality that life is continuously fluctuating — which also includes our energy. Instead of planning from an external viewpoint, start taking note of your own energy levels for individual tasks and incorporate that into the mix of tasks to accomplish each day. For example, you may have planned to work on one project for the day / week — yet you feel stuck, and the focus and ideas aren’t flowing in the way you’d like. Can you improvise and be flexible with this realization and focus on a task that is flowing / coming to you with more ease instead? It’s okay to be idealistic, but give yourself flexibility and compassion along the way to make adjustments to your daily, weekly, monthly aspirations. What you’ll find — as I did — is that you’ll spend more time being fruitful with the energy you do have for specific tasks in the current moment and feeling good about your work during the process vs. going through cycles of procrastination, self-doubt, and frustration because you didn’t get done what you wanted to when you wanted.

  2. Use language that supports — not harms you. Last year I noticed how certain phrases and words — most likely because of the actions they were associated with or how they were represented in the past — made me feel. “Being productive” was one of them. Every time I’d reflect on whether or not I had a “productive” day, it would be based on this connotation of whether everything on my list got checked off — not taking into account things that popped up that I didn’t have planned because life would happen. The word productive immediately puts me in “stay busy and hustle, hustle, hustle” mode, a mindset that immediately makes me feel so frazzled that I can no longer relate to or create from it healthily. I’ve adopted the word fruitful instead to reflect on my day. Did I handle anything that popped up unexpectedly with compassion? Was I honest with myself about how long something would take to finish, while giving myself the time and space to handle accordingly? Essentially I'm asking myself, with the seeds of action I planted and the energy I've felt, what did I do with it?

  3. When it comes to goals in new spaces and uncharted territories  —  take into account the transition time needed to adjust. Give yourself time for the transitions. Jumping into new ways of working, putting yourself out there, and finding your rhythm will take some time to get used to. Make space for it instead of creating room for negative self-talk to appear around not being a “super human” when you finally realize that your “CVS receipt-long” to-do list is overzealous. Make time for the morphing…it’s natural and normal. Nature does it all the time.

  4. Celebrate your small steps — they are the foundation to lasting change. Getting excited about and honoring my process has resulted in the most fruitfulness I’ve seen when creating. It’s allowed me to decrease the feeling of having to get it all done in a day, and focus more on the satisfaction I get from completing each task a step at a time. I make an intention to recognize my own consistent efforts, as it can be habitually easy to measure against the grand goal and feel defeated instead. Celebrate the small wins! Mine are always tied into acts that refuel me — i.e. my self-care go-tos. A win-win!

I hope these four ways that have helped me disassociate who I am vs. the things I do help you along your daily journey as well. 

With ease,

Jasmine Marie

Jasmine Marie is the creator of adulting with ease. She’s passionate about helping students and young professionals create their own way sans anxiety and stress. You can reach her at jasmine@adultingwithease.com or follow her @thatgirl_jmarie.