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thankful thursday: productivity

October 15, 2009

My cousin (one of many) posted a question on facebook today, wondering what is the best way to be productive in this life.  I’m not even sure if it was a serious question.

But it got me thinking.

I’m a list-maker.  I love lists.  I will write one up, feel great satisfaction as I cross things off, and then write additonal things I did on the list, just so I can cross them off. 

(The crossing-off is the best part.)

But a lot of the things I cross off my lists aren’t productive: wash dishes, sweep dog hair from floor, change beds, shop for groceries, clean toilets, fold laundry, weed garden (okay, I don’t do that one very much), change oil in car, etc. etc. 

My life is filled with entropy.  These things need to be done over and over.  They don’t actually produce anything lasting, nothing I can point to and proudly say, “I made that.” or “I did that.”

Then, out of the grey (fall rains have brought clouds back to Seattle), this came to me.  Anita, I think this is the best way to be productive in this life:

be grateful (for everything)

be generous (with everything: time, money, space, etc.)

be flexible (with your idea of productive)

And maybe that last one is the most important.

Those things that I cross off my lists: they are about making a home.  The individual tasks don’t last, but the sense of hearth and home we share as a family, that we share with our friends and extended family – this is a lasting thing.

Many of the things I do are about creating community: volunteering with young people; connecting with other writers, creatives, and industry-folk; finding solutions to problems (large and small) encountered by my tribe (near and far).  I can’t see or touch any of these things.  They are real even so – it matters that I do them. 

Other things I do are incomplete or ongoing: the draft of my YA novel comes to mind.  When the book is finished, sold, and published – I don’t have to think this way in order to continue, but I like to – then I will be able to point to what I created.  Right now though, I’m producing bits in a computer file.

But I am becoming a better writer with all the practice.  I am writing a story that lives in my heart.  I am also fulfilling a long-held dream.

I truly believe the world is a better place whenever anyone acts on their dreams.  And that is a fine way to think about productivity.

 

listening to: Lady Antebellum, I Run to You

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. qussa permalink
    October 19, 2009 6:23 am

    “Those things that I cross off my lists: they are about making a home. The individual tasks don’t last, but the sense of hearth and home we share as a family, that we share with our friends and extended family – this is a lasting thing.”

    The way you said that – that’s beautiful. I’m arguing myself in- and out of productivity these days, and this is a great way to think about it. Thank you!

  2. Jet permalink*
    October 20, 2009 5:23 am

    Hi Qussa, I have that same argument. Very often, what I write is stuff I need to hear. And I can get hung up on ‘doing’ a little too much. I hope you find the right balance for you.

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