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I’ve had the most incredible 7 weeks of my life. In mid-October, I embarked on a personal fitness journey.
With nothing other than habit building and good health on my radar, I set out to work out every single day, rain or shine. In doing so, I found myself diving deep into everything fitness related.
From the best blogs to YouTube videos and Instagram profiles of fitness experts, it has been a wonderful journey.
During this time, another interesting thing happened.
My blog didn’t see any new posts!
Ordinarily, I’d have fussed about the lack of consistency but this was the best thing that could have happened to me. Let me explain.
When I took a break from the blog to focus on my health, I did something that I had needed to do for a while: slowed down and became more conscious of how I was spending my time.
This focus on fitness made me reflect on the concept of mindful productivity and how it has helped me re-align my priorities.
If you’re in the same boat, struggling or overwhelmed, I thought I’d share how this approach to mindful productivity can help you too.
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Take a Deep Breath
One of the first things you learn when you take up a fitness routine is the importance of warming up the body before exerting it in any way.
Effectively, this helps prepare the body for the physical pressure.
Now, picture yourself facing a mental obstacle.
Say, you have this unending pile of to-do items on your checklist.
You may be finding that your heart is racing when you think about them.
Instead, take a full 2 minutes and take a few deep breaths.
Deep and regulated breathing helps you not just physically, but also helps to settle the stressed mind.
As a blogger, if you have a million tasks to do- write the blog, add pictures, optimise for SEO, set up a social media share schedule, reply to comments- you can imagine what happens next.
You stop even before getting started.
Instead, breathing deeply helps you assess what is most important and focus on that first.
Stay in the Present Moment
In the age of instant gratification, we’re constantly pulled in 10 different directions.
Whether that’s blogging or fitness, it’s the same story.
When you start out with fitness, you wonder if you should do cardio first or maybe you need to lift weights. Oh wait, let’s begin with yoga. Nah, let’s try pilates!
With the blog? Should you go for self-hosted or Free WordPress? Do you buy a good theme or just opt for a free one? Should you be on Instagram or Facebook? How about Pinterest? Wait, don’t you need an e-mail list?
Instead, what if you chose to focus on just ONE thing and stayed with it in the here and now?
As a fitness enthusiast, I can tell you it’s very tempting to do it all. Instead I did a very simple thing. Picked a sport I loved: Badminton.
For almost 3 weeks, I focused only on playing badminton. Just getting into the habit and enjoying the workout.
Similarly, for a blogger, the first thing I would want you to do is just start blogging.
Start writing and enjoy the feel of blogging. Let the energy of blogging be its own reward.
A Book I highly recommend to help you find your ‘one thing’ is this one by Gary Keller. Simply brilliant!
Change your Environment
I LOVED this tip that I read in the book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.
In it, he talks about how we can build good habits by changing our environment.
So, for instance, in order to make fitness a habit, I had to consciously surround myself with fitness gear, fitness clothing in an accessible place and also read/watch more content related to fitness.
Do you end up wasting time online?
Here are some easy tips that will help you break that habit!
Similarly, if you’d like to be a more productive blogger, it’s key that you make time for the blog.
Whether that’s writing a blog post or researching what goes into the technical part of blogging is your call.
The concept here is that it should become a natural part of your routine.
So, you don’t end up stressing if you don’t blog on a day, because you’ve actually worked on something blog-related on that day. Get it?
Give Sleep Its Due
This is one of the most important things you can do for both mindful productivity and fitness.
Good sleep is crucial not only to rest the body but also to allow the mind time to rejuvenate itself.
A well rested person is more likely to have better focus on their tasks.
Additionally, you’d notice that you tend to be less irritable, less frenzied and less stressed when you’ve had a good night’s rest.
The book that transformed my approach to sleep was this eye-opener of a book by Arianna Huffington.
Learn to Say ‘No’
This is something most of us struggle with and it’s something I had to consciously unlearn but it got easier the more I practised it.
In the area of fitness, I had to learn to say ‘No’ to laziness. Every single day. Each day, I consciously asked myself, ‘Are you going to work out or are you choosing to be lazy?’
That simple question made all the difference.
As of today, I have worked out consistently for 48 days.
In terms of productivity, the mindful way to say ‘No’ is to do it with kindness.
For instance, when people reach out to ask me for a favour or a guest post, I kindly tell them that I don’t have the bandwidth for it at the moment, since my focus is on health.
I felt awkward the first time; less awkward the second time and by the third time, I learnt to say it without feeling guilty.
Only say ‘Yes’ to that which you have time for.
Remove ‘Busy’ from your Vocabulary
As a carry on idea to the previous point, this one is important.
Remove the word ‘busy’ from your vocabulary.
Busy means you are too stressed and packing too much into your day.
It’s the feeling that gives rise to FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out.
Instead, learn to consciously detach yourself from doing it all.
For instance, I know for a fact that I cannot hope to publish a 50,000 word book in the next 30 days because my focus isn’t that.
I can’t hope to finish reading 50 books on my Goodreads Challenge by the end of 2019 either.
My current focus is on health and blogging.
The rest of my day is available and open for leisure, cooking, reading a book at my pace and being with family.
I’m not too busy to work out and I am not too busy to blog.
But I choose to consciously spend time during the day on self care activities that make me feel whole.
Want a structured time tracking sheet to see exactly how you spend your day? Sign up below.
Slow Down and Dive Deep
The world today appears to reward the fastest, greatest and the brightest.
But what about the slow movers? The ones who take their time, go deep into a subject and learn everything there is to know about it?
When I started on my fitness routine, I only wanted to do one thing.
Enjoy working out.
I didn’t set weight loss goals or impossible targets. I didn’t aim to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks.
Instead, I learnt to dive deep into everything there is to know about fitness.
What are the best exercises to do?
What should I eat before and after a workout?
What videos are ideal for beginners?
Get the picture?
Now, apply this to your blog.
You see bloggers posting 6 figure income reports at the end of 3 months of blogging and feel that you’re not doing enough.
The truth is, they’ve probably been doing this for much longer than 3 months.
You don’t see the 12 or 24 months of research they’ve put in before launching their blog.
Learn to truly let go of all expectations and dive deep into your blog and enjoy blogging. I guarantee the rest will follow when the time is right.
Do you find yourself getting distracted by Social Media?
Learn these 5 Tips that I use to Stay Productive on Social Media
Show Up Everyday
This worked beautifully for my fitness routine and equally well for my mindful productivity.
Each day, I start the day by asking what I want to focus on today.
If it’s the blog, I ask myself, ‘What part of blogging should I work on?’
See, the trick here is not that you have to blog everyday. You just have to care for your blog every day.
That could be by learning something new, updating an old blog post, sharing an old article on social media or engaging with readers and answering questions about a topic on your blog.
Remember that there is a whole sea of content out there already.
But your readers love you for the personality you bring to the content.
So, even if you blog just once in 7 weeks (AHEM), ensure that the value you provide is the same as if you were showing up every day to talk about your blog to your audience.
*If you’re based in India and would like to check out any of the books I’ve mentioned today, go and check them out on my Amazon India Store.