This is a guest post by María Ortega, global traveller and self-employed businesswoman. She is a trained, certified, and experienced teacher and DELE examiner, and certified SIELE exam trainer with a degree in Arts and a masters in Scenery Arts.
She is a Spanish grammar expert who loves exploring creativity, culture, art and self-expression in the target language as a way to connect the brain knowledge with the heart knowledge.
She has a different way of planning her projects and tasks. A way that seems to be more human and very wise. If you’re interested in productivity, keep reading this interesting article!
The best-kept secret of productivity and creativity is more accessible than you think. It’s not an app or knowledge that is revealed in a book or an e-course. You already have all you need and the key is, in fact, not even your mind. “How dare she say there is value is something other than the intellect or brain!” You gasped.
The holy grail of productivity and creativity is your body and the intelligence that lives in it. That fleshy tool that we often neglect and ignore, which tells us to rest or move, eat or sleep not always according to our external desires of working from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 7 pm, resting only on weekends and going to bed late trying to cram as many blog posts, videos or students as you can.
All this organising our work according to other people’s experiences is absolutely crazy!
Think about it. What is the only tool your business can’t do without? Your computer, you might say (I used to say that), closely followed by fast WIFI. Yes, those are important, but the only tool your business won’t survive with or even exist is YOU. And let me break this out for you: you are not just a head. In fact, your head is a 10% of you (makey-uppy numbers of course, but you get my drift), and albeit as powerful as our minds are (they are actually quite mind-blowing… pun intended). The majority of you is formed by your body.
So, my question for you is, have you ever started your working day sitting in silence asking you and your body what it wants to do that day? Even before looking at the to-do list or schedule of the day?
How would it feel to follow your intuition (which lives in your body, not your mind), your energy, your body?
A chaos, you might think. Nothing would get done. I’d go for a walk and a coffee, meet friends, take a nap. I’d never do what I want to do.
Well, I invite you to think about your work. I remind you that you chose this. So, considering you are not in the wrong career path because of some ill-conceived idea that teaching online or being an entrepreneur is easy, you must want to work sometimes: you must want to teach, you must want to create content, you must want to do the admin… Well, maybe not doing the admin…
Anyway, if you have chosen your career following your love (again, love is not a mind decision, love is more of a body emotion, desire kind of thing) then, you will do the work because you will want to do it.
But, how am I ever going to complete the to-do list with no organisation whatsoever? I hear you say. Two things: First, finishing your to-do list is a myth, it will never be completed as you will keep adding things. So, what’s the point in having it empty for about two minutes? The thing is to tackle it and cross lines. Second, I am not talking about a complete lack of organisation here. What I am talking about is talking to your body and listening to what it says and then learn your patterns. And then, organise accordingly.
Same thing as taking into account if you are a morning person or a night owl when you schedule your availability for lessons or appointments. There are more elements about you and your “ways” that are essential for keeping a happy and healthy human who can produce and create amazing stuff for their business.
For me, I have a different energy for the days of the week, I know that I normally like to work on Sundays but Fridays is a social kind of day, so I schedule my meetings and group classes on Fridays and leave my 1-to-1 for Sundays to Thursdays. I know that I enjoy having a day off lessons in the middle of the week so I don’t work on Wednesdays. And Saturdays is my me-day, so I do whatever I please.
This is on a very high level, but then I go into more depth.
I have female genitalia which, about three to four years ago, I discovered it is my superpower instead of my kryptonite. So, if you have male genitalia, the rest of this post can be of very little interest, although if you hang out with female genitalia humans, you might want to keep reading to pass on this nugget of information.
So, coming back to my uterus. Who would have thought that this part of my anatomy could hold the holy grail of productivity and creativity? I thought it was there to potentially make babies and annoy me once a month. So, because making babies wasn’t in my priority list, it was pretty much an annoying thing. But, think about it. Our menstrual cycle (not only the bleeding part) is not only a baby factory, but it is also a creative centre for anything you want to create, either a baby or a business.
Why then follow externally constructed structures as weeks or months, when we have a lovely inner compass to be guided by? Does the moon follow the sun patterns? Nope. The moon does its thing. Be like the moon.
The energy and focus of the four parts of our cycle are crucial. I am going to give you a general idea here but note that every human is different and that you might feel those energies in a different way. What I want to say is, track your cycle, notice where your energy is, what you excel at at the different times of your cycle… For example, I learnt that I do not want to have lessons in my luteal phase (premenstrual), which is not surprising as I do not want to talk to people altogether; so, when I plan ahead and because I have a pretty regular cycle, I just block that week or few days, or I have only two lessons per day instead of five.
Work with your menstrual cycle.
Let’s start with the follicular phase, that’s the one right after you finish your bleed (more or less, as I said, different people experience these phases in different ways).
Think of this phase as spring, new, fresh. In this time your oestrogen and testosterone rise which translates in an increase of energy. You are open to play and go in adventures, which means that is the perfect time to initiate an idea or project. You can cross lots of lines off your to-do list. You are productive and spontaneous, so this is the best moment to START things. You will feel super enthusiastic about projects, you will want to say yes to all of them! Be wary, take it slow.
Ovulation. Oh, mama! In this phase you are superwoman! The peak of oestrogen and testosterone, progesterone is also high, which means that you are stronger, resilient with a lot of energy and stamina.
Place here your high energy tasks (admin for me) and longer “summer” days of work or activity. You can do it! You are also more social, so you can have meetings, networking events, speaking events, lessons… You are focused with clear thinking and coordination, you are prolific (focus + stamina = you can do it all!). You will get a big chunk of work done and you will feel great.
Luteal phase, premenstrual days. This is a time to reflect. Your progesterone is high, then your oestrogen and progesterone fall. You might start feeling the PMS symptoms and let me tell you something, your inner critic is going to be loud.
It is time to reflect on all the work and ideas you had over the pre-ovulation and ovulation time. It is time to edit, create or destroy (nothing wrong with letting go of ideas or projects). The emphasis here is on “editing” and refining projects. You tend to be very honest and perceptive and you can call on bullsh*t when you see it. The resilient, can-do-it-all woman is now truthful and wild, embrace it. Because your energy is dipping, you might want to have less commitments (lessons or tasks) and maybe you want to spend time in nature or looking through the window pondering about life. Do it. Fewer tasks and more reflection. This is a very creative time but not the same creativity of the follicular phase, but more chaotic, wild and “purposeless”. You need it and your body needs it too.
Menstruation, your hormones are at their lowest and your bleeding begins. Your oestrogen will increase throughout the week. You need rest and to listen within. Put the to-do list aside, guilt free, and don’t work at all if you can. You might feel unmotivated and lacking passion, so who would like to have lessons with you, anyway? Self-care is essential at this time.
This is the time to plan the next cycle. Your rational thinking is good for financial planning or budgeting. Pause. Rest. Reflect on the past cycle, what worked well, what didn’t, what ideas came up, what projects seem to roll, which ones feel heavy and burdensome? This calm and clear energy is great for visioning about the big picture, for your life and your business.
Main take away points:
• Work on your business plan and ideas mainly during pre-menstruation and menstruation. Execute your projects and tasks during pre-ovulation and ovulation.
• Take an idea along the whole cycle. Write it down in a notepad or just sit with it and see how you feel about it during the different phases. Your over enthusiastic follicular self might want to give it a go, but maybe your very critical luteal one thinks is a horrible idea and your clear and rational menstrual self realises it’s not for you and it’s not aligned with the big vision of your business, or maybe it is.
• You are not a machine and you have an incredible compass in your body. Track your cycle. Trust it. Follow it.
• You can rest and you should.
You can ask María questions about this post in the comments below or you can find her here:
If you are still reading, I guess you liked the post, which means you’re interested in productivity! Then I also encourage you to have a look at my course ‘Productive Teacher’, where you will find lots of tips on how to increase your productivity, accelerate your tasks, improve your performance, plan and achieve…and way more!
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