What is draining your creative energy right now, and what can you do about it?

As small business owners, creatives and freelancers it can take quite a lot of our energy searching for ways to deal with time management & productivity. 

Whether it’s trying time blocking apps, reading the latest management theories or wondering if we should quit social media, it can be quite stressful trying to be less stressed. 

Productivity is quite a recent concept. I remember hearing that the phrase multi-tasking originated when women entered the workforce en masse in the 1960s. 

Women were expected to be grateful to have a job, but still fully able to carry out their duties at home. And so the modern phenomenon that many refer to as ‘the juggle’ was born, and with it the obsession with productivity.

I think we all have times where we wonder if we are being productive enough. I find some days I am able to get more done, and others my brain just doesn't play ball.

I've read a lot about productivity over the last few years out of interest, and I wanted to pass along a few tips in this article that I’ve taken on board.  

You will be more productive if you look after your wellbeing

I believe we should listen to our bodies and be aware of our energy levels and not force ourselves to do lots on days where we don’t feel at our peak.

There are so many things that will drain our energy and take away our focus if we let them.

Energy and focus are two of the things we really need to harness if we do want to be productive.

So it is good to ask yourself the question, what is draining your creative energy right now, and what can you do about it?

I was prompted to consider this by Laura Vanderkam, host of the Before Breakfast podcast, author of many time management books and all round productivity expert.

I thought about it and came up with the following things that do drain my energy at times, but are all things I can change.  

As I am a marketing consultant, I've come at it with this in mind.  

Do any of these feel familiar?

1. Failure to plan 

If you regularly experience feelings of panic or worry about your marketing (maybe social media is the best example of where this can occur) then this can be a real drain on your energy. 

Worrying about being visible, and winning new clients/customers can be a real worry for all of us with small businesses, so having a proper plan in place that helps you with that will take away the worry factor.

I've seen it said a lot recently but a plan is not a rigid must do thing, it's just a guiding tool that sends you in the right direction.

2. Notifications

Do you have notifications turned on for all of your social media tools, email, WhatsApp etc?

Have you experienced the feeling that no sooner have you clicked away one little dot,@, etc that the whole lot starts again.

One of the worst offenders seems to be LinkedIn with its 'missed activity' notifications. Seriously how scary is that as a concept? This is a time and attention drain that needs dealing with. 

Many experts on this say try to gradually turn off notifications one tool at a time. That way it won't send you into too much of a panic.  But ultimately banks of uninterrupted time are what we all need to succeed at the big career defining work that will make us happier long term.

Two books that are useful on this topic are Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. 

3. Not taking enough breaks 

Humans are not built for sitting. Long periods where we don't move, don't make us happy. And they are terrible for our brain power.

I'm sure you have experienced the 3pm slump, regardless of whether you eat carbs or not. This may have less to do with what we eat and more to do with how much we move about.

I've read quite a lot lately about the need for movement breaks. Running up and down the stairs, doing a few jumping jacks, or getting out for a proper walk.

The 5am Club by Robin Sharma recommends deep periods of concentration followed by 10 minutes of doing something completely different. 

Why not give it a try and see how your energy is affected.

So good luck ridding your life of time and energy drains.

I hope these tips will help you with being more productive every day.

Thanks for reading



Shona Chambers is a freelance marketing consultant  with a career spanning over 20 years, working with both large and small companies. Shona has also created her own businesses, including a networking group for the self employed and freelance community, Self Employed Club. 

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