productive workAre you beating yourself up for not doing more today?

Odds are you are being more productive than you’re giving yourself credit for.

The last month has been pretty big for me in terms of putting things out there: launching Create Content That Connects, writing pieces for The Muse and getting a lot of traffic as a result, lots of client work. It feels like everything has been moving in one direction, mostly. Output.

So, it feels a little weird to be on the other side of many of those things. Without the daily to-dos to move forward, I feel slightly, dare I say, “unproductive.”

I looked into it. Turns out, “doing,” is the last phase of productivity. Think of how much you’ve already accomplished when you finally get to the “doing.” You’ve gone through all these phases of productivity.

Collecting information:

There’s something you want to do so you set about figuring out the process you have to follow to get it done. This means you’re consuming articles, books, e-courses, and so on.


All that information you collected…you start analyzing it. What makes sense for you to implement? And how will you make it yours?

Getting organized:

In this phase, you’re figuring out how to carry out everything you’ve learned in pursuit of your ultimate goal. Making lists, lining up support, setting up protocols

Reviewing your systems:

You make your list and you check it twice. You’re making sure everything will go nice and smoothly.

And then, and only then, do you get to the doing.

There’s a lot of productive work that comes before “doing.” So why are we so hard on ourselves by not accounting for this oh-so-important input phase?

Here are a couple ways to feel productive during these input phases. Because you are.

Set the stage: Has your workspace gotten a little jumbled as you’ve been in output mode for the last several months? Straighten up. Prepare for the next phase. You should also prepare your digital space for this next phase. Clear out your inbox, clean up your bookmarks, delete some of those time-sucking Facebook temptations. Clean house. It’s basically Spring after all.

Edit your to-do list: If you plowed through a to-do list during the “doing” phase of your recent work, go back through and acknowledge all you’ve accomplished. Make sure to check off everything you did. How satisfying! And self-nourishing to give yourself the credit you deserve. Then…

Write everything down. Now that you’ve cleared out the old to-dos. It’s time to start new. Start again. Even the seemingly small to-dos can be as rewarding to check off your list as the big ones. So if you’ve been meaning to read an article you bookmarked three weeks ago (before you delete it from your Reading List), write it on your to-do list. (And check it off when you’ve read it.) Write down the big stuff, too. And break those down into smaller tasks then write those down, too. This is how things get done!

Reward yourself. When you’re in intake mode, reward yourself for things you might not otherwise think are accomplishments, like finishing an e-course (completely!) or finishing a book. Take yourself out for lunch. Or let yourself binge for an hour on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Put that on your to-do list so you can cross it off and feel productive.

So, let me ask you. Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever feel unproductive because you’re not in traditional “output” mode? Let me know I’m not alone in the comments below. And tell me what you do to feel productive. Will you employ any of these ideas? Which ones? Can’t wait to hear.