How to Stay Productive While Living Life at 100 mph (Part 1)

I was having a conversation with a friend recently who asked me how I managed to “do so much”. She noted, as many people in my life have, that it seems I never slow down. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of me. The quote “I’d rather die of exhaustion than boredom” about sums me up and would be my life motto, if my life motto wasn’t already “Nudity Brings Unity” (I’m gonna need a follow up post to explain that one, aren’t I?). The truth is, I prefer to have a lot going on. I’ve written before about how I like to be stretched thin, always forced to overcome some challenge. The friend I was speaking to is well aware of all of this, and was questioning how I manage to keep the wheels from falling off. Hovercrafts are so awesome.

It’s not because I don’t sleep (although I don’t). It’s also not because I have some secret methodology. I do subscribe wholeheartedly to the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy and use a variety of “life hacks” and helpful apps like Evernote to stay extremely organized, but I don’t have the type of job nor do I live the type of life where I’m able to unwaveringly stick to a process of any kind. I do have some set routines, and in Part 2 of this post I’ll share a few processes & tools that I’ve used in order to help when energy and dedication are not enough, but the real secret to my ability to handle so much responsibility is this quote:

If it's important, you find a way.

When I first heard that quote, it rattled me. It forced me - as good inspirational quotes or ideas do - to re-evaluate the decisions I was making, and to analyze whether the things I valued were truly displayed by my actions and what I spent my time doing. In many cases, they were not. In other cases I had some of what I valued revealed to me for the first time, as I realized I had certain habits. These things I did regularly and effortlessly I obviously valued.

I’ve always been a person who fights for things, and I firmly believe “to get, you gotta go get” so those parts of me coupled with the mindset of the quote above have been stirred into the perfect cocktail of productivity for me. Plus, I’m like, totally super good at Googling things…like, online and stuff.

Google All The Things

I do live by that quote, though. Last night, instead of watching the Bears on Monday Night Football (I KNOW. DITKA.), I stayed at work really late writing & brainstorming content for social campaigns. I needed groceries so I went to a late night supermarket and got them. I’m up well past midnight writing this, and I’ll be up early to plan my day and make up for the run I missed. Last week I ran on a normal schedule despite temperatures regularly below zero. Each weekend, I clear my calendar of any work obligations and most social obligations so I can spend the most time with my fiancé Jill as possible since we live in separate towns & don’t see each other during the week. I meet up with friends for beers somewhat regularly, have phone conversations with the ones I can’t see in person, volunteer for a variety of events on top of everything. I do all of this because I care. I value all these things. My weeks are packed tight, but I find the time.

My aforementioned fiancé hears me say “we’ll find a way” a lot. With her, I’m typically talking about having a quality wedding while paying our own way or figuring out our eventual living situation while we both currently have different ideas of what it might be. I repeat those words because I know that we’re the kind of people who are driven to pursue what we want. We’re not afraid to make certain sacrifices to achieve an end goal, and we both have plenty of examples of people who find a way to get things done. Jill’s a schoolteacher in a poorer school and neighborhood. She deals with so many examples of broken homes and broken people. She’s told me about a single mother who is not only raising multiple children of her own, but her sister’s children as well. This woman, despite circumstances clearly not in her favor, finds a way.

History is littered with examples of people who found a way. History is also littered with examples of people who found an excuse.

What will you do? Will you make excuses? Or will you find a way?