On Wednesday, the 11th of May, I had only half an hour on a train to work for myself.
I still cling to my day job, working 10 hours a week. It provides about 10% of my overall revenue. 90% of my livelihood depends on the things I’m personally responsible for: my writing, coaching, and my book advertising business.
After I was done with my day job’s tasks, I had a call with my VA. After the call, I had less than two hours to work on my tasks. Then, I had a 2-hour long coaching training, and an after-hours department party to attend.
Busy, Busy, Busy
Not a big deal, right? Actually, a huge one. In the beginning of May, I’ve been bombarded with new inquiries. New coaching client, new book advertising client, a past customer who wanted to work on a new book, a recurring customer who suddenly dumped a couple of book projects on me to be finished in a week, another customer who needed help with formatting…
I was buried under new projects for customers, and I had a few projects I wanted to start for myself. And I mentioned above just the one-time revenue-related projects. I had a business to run, a team to supervise, a kiddo to help with physics homework, a Tiny Habits Challenge I ran in a Facebook group, and more.
And I had less than two hours.
I tried to push through. With a heavy heart, I went over a book description for a client. But suddenly I realized: There was no way I could juggle all of those tasks. It was just too much for any single person to handle. No way!
So, I paused and prayed. I prayed for guidance and strength to do what was needed to do.
And then, a miracle happened, which I only realized journaling about this experience the next morning.
In about 90 minutes, I replied to 11 emails and filed away God-only-knows how many others. I exchanged six messages with four of my team members on the three different platforms. I moved forward three big projects, almost to the point of finalizing them, and I tackled a few smaller projects.
What is more, during that time, I made a few short breaks. Normally, I should have been totally distracted. Switching between so many tasks should have dried me to the core.
Nope. Not at all. I was full of energy. I was in the flow state normally reserved for the tasks I love to do, like writing or being interviewed.
I got on the training call and was able to finish several smaller tasks (issuing the invoices and the like).
Not My Strength
First of all, I don’t attribute this burst of productivity to tapping into my own resources. I know how I function when I take a break, push a pause button, and then go back to work. I’m used to taking short naps, even in the open space. When my energy is low, I need to shut down for a moment. Afterwards, I feel better than if I had drunk a strong coffee.
However, I have never felt like on that Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t my energy; it was the borrowed energy and focus.
I was in a flow state, like while writing, coaching, or giving a podcast interview. I entered the flow state, but I tackled the mundane tasks I normally abhor – management, email exchange, and the senseless work of switching between accounts and platforms. There was nothing exciting in those tasks. Nothing that would have made me felt alive. Yet, I felt as fulfilled as while writing a book.
The Key to Divine Productivity
God opposes the proud but he accords his favour to the humble.” James 4:6b
The step #0 is to admit you have a problem and you cannot cope on your own. Me, myself, and I, are sometimes (oftentimes?) not enough. You can only tap into greater power if you admit you are the lesser power. You need to ask for help to receive it.
Without this step, no miracle can happen. Don’t pretend you are strong. Don’t pretend you have a handle on it. Admit your weakness.
And the Rest of the Steps
Push the pause button. Drop everything. The middle of your own busyness is not the right place to do anything. Remember, this busyness provided you nothing but stress and exhaustion. Don’t do the insane thing – doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.
Get out of the hamster wheel. Sit down. Close your eyes. Inhale. Exhale. Face the reality – you cannot cope on your own. You need to ask for help.
I asked God for help; in my opinion, it’s never a bad idea. But you can also ask for human help.
Whomever you will reach out to – whether God, or a friend, or a coworker – first of all admit your own inadequacy. You do not ask for a favor. You ask for help. Admit you are on the verge of a burnout. Be crystal clear. It will do more good to you, than to the other party.
We are social animals to the core. There is something magical in being vulnerable. The act of confessing your own weakness is usually the actual moment when you accept your own inadequacy.
This is the magic of relationship. Others (and God is especially good at that) can think of solutions that would’ve never crossed your own mind. So, don’t shoot down their offers just because you think you know better. This ‘better’ led you to this miserable situation in the first place, remember?
Don’t try to be falsely modest – “Oh, that’s so nice of you, but I shouldn’t have accepted your generous offer…” When the help is offered, all you can do is gratefully accept. Any other option is suboptimal (if not downright stupid).
Oh, and also keep as an option the possibility that not everything will be done in time. Rescheduling some projects is still a better option than the burnout.
Modify your mindset and your actions. I’ve already mentioned that the sheer act of interaction can generate ideas and solutions foreign for you. You need them, however strange they may sound! Your current mindset and actions brought you to this place. They weren’t efficient. You need something new.
I’m firmly convinced I got the power from above, which made me function differently than my normal mode. Suddenly, I waste exactly zero time to switch between very different tasks. I spent zero time on dwelling on negative feelings about how my life was unfair, how much I didn’t like specific tasks, how exhausting it was to grind like that.
It wasn’t the old “me” who did all of that.
Don’t try to be a lonely hero. Don’t try to do everything on your own. You haven’t been created for that. None of us was.
We are social animals, and we thrive in the pack. We need interactions and relationships to generate different mindsets and results.
Admit, in your own mind and heart, that the situation outgrew your ability to cope with it.
Pause, break the existing cycle.
Ask for help.
Receive help in a grateful manner and without shooting down helpful offers.
Modify your mindset and your actions.
This is how you tap into divine productivity.