Phases of Productivity

rukristin find your voice (4 of 4)

On Being Productive:

This summer a lightbulb went off in my head. I’m good at focusing on one big picture thing at a time. If I have too many things dragging me in different directions, I freak the eff out. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of freaking out and its time to change that.

Whether its writing, creating, loving, organizing, etc, I do a better job if I devote my whole self and all of my energy into one thing. And if I spend my time and energy on the right thing at the right time — magic happens. I make amazing things; I figure out new ideas; I experience incredible feelings. It’s the top of the world and it feels awesome.

When it happens that is.

Now I just need to figure out how to sync everything up a little bit better so I can find that magic a little more often.

rukristin-portland maine-4


I’ve had the mind-organization summer from hell. Everything has just always seemed off and out of place. My brain has been all fuzzy with this and that and the other thing that I was doing a terrible job of keeping it all together. I don’t function well when there’s a million things going on in my head. I got my best work done when I just said “screw it” and worked what felt right.

Not what felt good. Not what felt fun. What felt right. 

And sometimes that was sitting down and doing all of the boring un-fun stuff so that it was totally out of my head. And sometimes that was telling people, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to a couple of great opportunities that would have pulled me in yet another direction.

Moving Forward

And so moving forward I need to change how I prioritize. I need to have one big picture thing going on at a time, and focus my energy on that big picture goal. Those big picture goals will have to change in order to keep everything in balance — maybe that can be each week, or maybe it doesn’t need to be a set time at all.

But I think this is is a better way of looking at things for me. Instead of trying to juggle everything equally all the time, and then failing miserably — this new way of organizing my goals might be what I’m missing.

So starting now, I’m going to manage my medium and large size goals and tasks by focusing most of my energy in one area; really trying to push toward that one goal and letting all of the other goals remain stationary until it’s their turn to shine.

How do you stay productive? What works or doesn’t work? Has it ever changed?


  • Jennifer from Simple Scrapper

    I have two main approaches that I rely on.

    1. Understanding that my energy cycles and when I’m on high I can push myself and when I’m on low I need to rest. Part of this is trusting that it’s an ebb and flow, that the motivation always comes back.

    2. Knowing that some things need to get done regardless and that having a plan in place will help make sure one foot can be put in front of the other.

    • I really like both of those.

      I get nervous during the low times — as if I’m never going to get back to my good place.

      and I always need a plan to come back to; so that when I’m freaking out — I have a road map to get out of the turmoil

  • Kimberly James

    Kristin, I feel like we are in the same place. I have had so many things going on at once and even more going on in my head. So much so that everything suffers and almost none of it gets done. I have come to the same conclusion, one major thing at a time. I am taking a greedy approach to this. I am focusing on me and what I want to get done instead of letting others expectations take me away from what I want and need to do. We will see how it goes.

  • moncoff

    I so completely and totally get this! I do much better when it’s one thing at a time. But it’s also hard to do that with a full time job along with being a wife and mother…not to mention side interests like our candle business and previously Scrapfreak. I have more things I want to accomplish than time. And that can lead to me feeling overwhelmed, behind, and thus very unproductive. I seem to go through phases of productivity and I do better when I feel I have more things “current” if that makes sense. When I feel like I’m on top of my projects, I am far more productive. But it’s hard to stay that way. To-do lists and time are key for me and I have to specifically carve out that dedicated time to accomplish things on my list. So while I also want flexibility, structure is really good for me. And will power to just follow it. :)

  • Violetta Shekinah

    I hear you totally, and I have this same realization percolating in my mind right now. My One Little Word this year is “soulpath”–as in, walking my own soul’s path, and constantly letting go of the need to do for others things they could do for themselves. I think a lot of us take on too much of that garbage.

    When I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s sometimes because I have too many things I want to do. But often, it’s because I have so many things I want to do, *and I’m not allowing myself to focus on any of them*, because “just doing this one other little thing first” leads to days and days of doing what other people want me to do. Not what my soul calls me to do.

    Seth Godin recently wrote about how most people think they need a map, but they really need a compass. So here’s what I do, to try and keep the navigation aligned with what my heart needs:

    1. I use brain dumps to get everything out of my mind.
    2. I write to-do lists of the things that need to happen soonest, but I don’t schedule my time–I end up rebelling and ignoring the schedule. I pick these off when I need a break from the big stuff.

    3. I decide each week what the four most important overall Big Picture projects are.
    4. Each day I allocate a certain number of two-hour chunks of time. I work for myself presently, so I have four 2-hour chunks–an 8-hour workday. If I worked full-time, I’d probably allocate one two-hour chunk a day. I try to plan at the beginning of the week however many chunks I’ll have that week.

    5. At the beginning of each chunk of time, I decide which Big Picture project I’ll spend thouse 2 hours working on. Any of them I want, as long as they’re not consecutive (to avoid burnout). I work on whatever it is, take a break, then switch. At least one of those chunks of time, I do something creative.
    6. New week, adjusted Big Picture projects list, re-allocate chunks of time. As long as I do SOMETHING in that two-hour span, I get to feel like a success!

    That’s how I knock things out, while avoiding overwhelm, one-project-all-day burnout, and distractions.

    • I love this. so much. I’m definitely going to start incorporating some of these ideas. <3 LOVE.