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Our warped relationship with productivity

So many of the clients I work with are exhausted.

Burnt out.

Suffering from Rust- Out (I was featured in Harper Bazaar last month talking about this phenomenon which you can read more HERE

And I think much of it stems from striving to have it all.

Now don’t get me wrong - I fully believe we can have it all. Be badass high-flying career women and also (if we choose to) have kids and bring up the next generation. Nurture ourselves, see friends, have hobbies, have a partner etc ect. I just believe that we can’t have it all, at the same time.

I spoke about this in depth on BBC Radio London last month (here is a snippet)

Because I think what happens when we try to have it all (at the same time) is we neglect ourselves.

I’m currently doing a mental juggle at the moment - juggling a business in one of the toughest financial landscapes since 2008 (emoji), raising a 1 and 3 year old with big personalities in a way that aligns to my values and with calm and patience, living in a building site and ⅓ of the way through a major house renovation (who knew how much I appreciate having running water). It’s ALOT.

As women we are conditioned to put ourselves last - some of it we infer through learned behaviours from the women around us and some of it is due to the expectations on the role of women in a modern day society.

I think one of the reasons we put ourselves last is our intense focus on productivity.

As a society we put productivity ahead of everything else. We make busy work for the sake of busy work, just to feel we are doing something. Because if we do something, we are being valuable. And if we are valuable we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. We feel like in this huge universe - that we matter.

But it’s difficult to see investing in yourself as productive; and by investment I don’t mean necessarily money related it could be time or energy. To see it as anything other than a time drain when you could be ticking things off your to do list. Regardless of the value of these tasks.

But what happens when you don’t invest in yourself? When your cup goes from being half full to empty?

….all the balls come crashing down

So I’ve been practising what I so often preach over the last few months and here are some of the things that have helped me:

Time-bound my tasks on my to do list

Some tasks have an obvious outcome and completion, however others can be so long ended you never even see the finish line and they loom over you whenever you re-write them on your to do list. I use a version of the Pomodoro Technique to set a timer to complete these tasks and stop once the timer is up. This allows me to cross this off the list and move onto the next task!

Schedule time in my work day for something for me

This is much harder on the days that I have my kids (even a toilet break can sometimes be a luxury), but when I have a bit more ‘space’ in my work days I try and make sure I block my calendar for something non-work related. I’ve found a quick lunchtime dog walk or a meditation is super helpful.

Remind myself of the habits that help me stay sane

Quite easily when you are in a busy period you forget what helps you. What brings you back to you and helps you feel like the best version of yourself. These don’t have to be grandiose things (I mean ideally I’d love to go to the spa once a week, but that’s aint happening) - but they are things that make you feel better. Being connected to nature whether a walk or a sea swim is hugely beneficial to increase your dopamine, as is journaling (to get stagnant thoughts out of your head) and any kind of movement of the body (I’m loving hot yoga and outside weight based activities)


I love the work that my friend Nicola Hobbs is doing around re-inventing rest through the ‘Relaxed Woman’ and I think we have so far as a society to really embrace this concept. But it’s so needed! I used to feel I was ‘weak’ for needing to recharge after a busy day of work or socialising, but now I see that as a superpower in awareness. It can be tough with 2 kids to find the time to do this when you really need it, which is why I always try and pick up on when I feel my energy getting zapped and go back to basics.

I hope this newsletter gives you the permission slip you definitely didn’t need, to prioritise yourself. To take things slow. To rest if you need to.

Because as I told a client the other day - we can’t pour from an empty cup.

And we can’t change our worlds (in whatever small or big ways that looks like to you) without being the best version of ourselves.

So here’s to productively resting!

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