All posts by Jane Maduke

What does productivity mean to you?

Isn’t it a great complement to receive in the workplace when you are told that you are productive? It smells of being organized, thoughtful, deliberate and able to balance day-to-day details with the bigger picture. It can also be turned on its head in a heartbeat “Ya, she’s productive alright but what good is any of that stuff she’s produced? She’s missing the mark.” We all know that just being productive is not enough; the results that we produce must be meaningful and line up with the bigger picture.

So there is the first place to look to start the journey to a more productive life: with your bigger picture. My experience with clients and from my own project work, work as a devoted parent, wife and friend have revealed that it is common to lack two fundamental skills that would greatly enhance meaningful productivity; recovery and reflection skills. When was the last time you let yourself guilt free stare at the wall? When was the last time you intensely focused on a bedtime schedule that had you getting 8 hours every night? Yes, sleep is a productivity tool. Zoning out is a productivity tool. Scientific America recently published an article on the importance of idleness and downtime to your brain’s processing network ( You know when you’ve slept on a problem and had the answer pop up in your mind a day or two later? That’s your brain’s processing network at work. It needs recovery to be productive!

Then there is the skill and art of reflecting. When was the last time you took an hour and thought about what you want your company to really be about, your family, your life? Creating clear missions for ourselves is an awesome meaningful productivity tool trick for our brains. When we decide what our life or our company is about and state it publically and proudly using present tense, our outlooks shift and the week or month’s activities show up differently. The lens in which we see our lives changes. Eliminating tasks that don’t add value to our mission or vision become much easier.

We are challenged endlessly in this age to weed out and limit the inputs so that we can actually get to work and get something done. There are no limits to the cool information, interesting things to try, neat-o things to research and to talk about with each other. Productivity is NOT doing all of those things because “doing it all” won’t get results. It will just make us very busy, running around in circles as precious time passes us by.

It’s time to create a life with strong and rigorous practices of recovery, reflection, planning AND doing.

Possible actions from this post could be:

  • Schedule bedtimes and focus intensely on getting more sleep for at least 2 weeks – log any insights you discover
  • Create a workplace vision or mission statement. Include input from everyone. Use present tense language. Make sure it’s powerful and inspiring to everyone.
  • Create a vision or mission statement for your life, family, marriage, partnership. Include input from everyone. Use present tense language. Take the time to make it sing to you.
  • When you catch yourself zoning out in your day, consider that your brain needs some processing time. Own it. Don’t judge yourself. Give your brain at least 10 minutes. Maybe go outside and stare at a tree. Observe the “aha” moments that may follow.
  • Hiring me of course! I have powerful coaching and training tools around these practices.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your feedback.

Stretch Solutions Inc

Productivity and capacity building training for individuals, groups, leaders and teams