A question was raised last week by a friend of mine, Ann Little, who owns Silver Lining PA Services, and it really got me thinking. She asked “What does a productive week look like to you?”. I thought it would be easy to come up with an answer, but the more I thought about it, the more difficult it got. After mulling it over for a while, I realised that I was confusing “productive” with “successful” – because I think they can be very different things, but that both need to be given equal importance. I also realised that being productive can be more complicated and take more time up in some aspects of my life than others.
A productive work week
This one is probably the easiest one to define – although it is slightly different from a “successful” week. A successful week is managing to achieve the list of tasks I’ve set myself, being able to respond to the inevitable last-minute requests that can come in without warning – ideally without needing to work outside my normal hours.
I’m always delighted with a successful week, but is that the same as productive? I tend to think of productive as getting things organised that weren’t before…making plans you’ve been meaning to get round to…sorting those jobs for your business that you have been putting off. One of those jobs is designing a new theme for my website – the sort of thing I do regularly for others, but just haven’t made time for as far as my own business is concerned. It’s putting some time into some new social media ideas, and even putting some time aside for making a business plan – thinking hard and dreaming big. The sort of stuff I usually reserve for solo dog walks…if I can get that done in a working week, along with making it a successful one, it has been a most productive one.
A productive home week
So what does this one look like? Similarly, it’s not the same as a successful week – one where I’ve managed to get everyone to school and back from school on time every day, with teeth brushed and kitted out with relevant daily necessaries, as well as sorting activities, payments, Cubs and Beavers sessions, and making sure homework gets done. All very successful when it’s all been done, but not meeting the productive criteria.
Productive is actually managing to tidy up, and keep it tidy for more than half a day. It’s finally getting round to taking up those curtains in the dining room. It’s contacting the property maintenance company to get someone round to look at the gutters. It’s beginning to plan the things we can do for Halloween. It’s the space to think about what needs to happen above and beyond the things that have to happen. Making the space can be harder to achieve, but it’s just as important.
A productive personal week
I’ve noticed as the children have grown older and more self-sufficient that the time I have available for me has crept up a little. It’s true that this time is most likely to be filled by work or home jobs, but occasionally I do manage to drop the guilt and spend a bit of time doing something I would like to do It’s usually reading, with a hot cup of tea, but occasionally it’s doing something nice like browsing for Christmas presents I’d like on my wishlist, or faffing about with some seasonal craft materials. And while it’s the one I get round to least often, it’s definitely the simplest one to define!
So where did all this musing leave me? I think with the conclusion that being productive is rarer than being successful, but that it can be even more satisfying – and that making the time to be productive is just as important, if not more so.