This evening I set about to write a post about productivity. It has been way more difficult that it should be – productivity has been hit or miss lately. Though, I may have found a turning point.
Years ago, many years ago, I was a power house of productivity. Being productive was at the heart of my self-identity – getting things done, moreover, being asked to do things made me feel needed and useful. Mostly, these “things” were related to theater and arts projects and overall this ability and enjoyment of completing projects led to my being a professional project manager for live events.
Then three years ago Dante came along.
My ability to get stuff done fell a bit and the time with Dante and joy he brought made it barely noticeable. Then a year and a half ago Gabriel came along. So much more joy. So much less productivity.
Oh, like any woman who has just created another human being through the miracle of biology, I allowed myself some time to pull it together again. A year is certainly a fair amount of time. Yet somehow, I just don’t feel like I have pulled it together and it has been a year and a half.
At least that is what I thought until a week ago when I had a day that made me feel like a powerhouse again. It made me feel like I was 22 again. In one day I managed to hit two doctor appointments and a dress fitting; squeeze in a successful trip to the mall gaining clothes for me and Nathan for our upcoming family photos; and fully prepared and hosted a lovely bridal shower. I even found a vintage Chanel wallet for $25 as I picked up some flower vases and a punch bowl at the local Goodwill. Truly, I hadn’t had a day like that in years – and it felt great.
It felt as great to know that I still had the ability to function like that outside the world of work and motherhood as purely enjoying the day of shopping and hostessing (give or take the trip to the dentist). That break from the ordinary gave me some clearer understanding of how much is packed into the usual day of working and motherhood. And it is actually quite a lot…
Today I could really see that our family days are full and productive as well – and shame on me for forgetting that play time to a 3 year old and thoroughly exploring each and every Cheerio to a 1 year old is truly the most productive use of time. Not to mention cooking for the week; full family participation vacuuming; laundry; toddler and parent yoga; and rearranging the kids’ room.
Maybe this post was harder to write than usual because my brain is just plain tired. But happy. Because my brain still feeds on productivity.
Productivity is just different now – it is more about what I have been calling “finding capacity.” Things that I get done now are far less self-centered – not to mean any less enjoyable. My interest in community affairs has largely turned inward. My interest in developing hobbies needs to be focused (how unhobby-like, I know.) We let go of a ten year subscription to Newsweek this year – partly because the new direction drove me crazy but largely because we had no capacity in which to fit in weekly magazine reading. New obligations have to be carefully weighed – time commitment and flexibility of when that time is needed; what kind of energy and creativity is required; where I can physically accomplish this new task or project. Those are the new key factors – not if is it a cool project, or if it positively impacts my community or if will I be proud of the outcome or if I would simply enjoy it or the people I would work with. Oh, to be sure, those are still there but far below the needs of our household and how something fits into what I am capable of given the hours in the day and my God given talents.
I have been finding capacity in the quiet moments at 6am now that Gabriel is sleeping later – writing or running are a great way to start a day. I find capacity in recognizing the true time commitment of an act – a hand written thank you note takes five minutes, no more. I find it in asking friends to meet me closer to the office to make lunch dates possible or come to the house so visits can extend past the little ones bedtimes. I find it in recognizing my priorities and not being distracted by extraneous projects (sorry, Pinterest, it was a short lived love affair). I find it in saying no to obligations I cannot fulfill properly. I find a lot of it in having child care in our home.
And in the harder lesson for me, I have found capacity in letting things happen as they may – and not worrying that my predetermined timeline wasn’t met. Few things are as time sensitive as I once believed – and acted on. I am still productive. I am finishing this post 15 hours after I planned to and am missing my self-imposed deadline. But I have produced a post. And it is a better post than if I had called it done at 11pm last night. I found capacity to finish stronger.
Where do you find and what do you do with your capacity?