Thursday, July 31, 2014

Productivity Tips from Dory the Fish

Do you remember Dory from the Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo? She was the show-stealing neurotic and forgetful regal blue tang fish with the Ellen Degeneres voice. Her most memorable line, to me anyway, was this mantra: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” She would sing song her way through life, not always knowing the point or where she was headed, but loving the ride just the same.

I felt like Dory this week. I had so much to do, but lacked direction and purpose. All attempts to focus were futile, and the more disciplined I tried to be - (“you can’t do this until you do that”) - the less I accomplished.

My customers frequently seek the formula for productivity. There are plenty – that’s for sure: 
  • avoid multitasking
  • eliminate distractions
  • set a timer
  • take small steps
  • visualize the end

I can’t argue any of these; they all work. But what about those days when they don’t; when you’re just “swimming” in circles? That’s when I call on the genius of Dory.

I just keep swimming…or moving…or working…or doing literally anything. Because little bits of progress, even if not perfect, or in the right order, or at the right time, are usually better than nothing. I write for a bit, process a few bills, delete an email here or there, maybe run an errand. It’s not textbook time management, but it’s good enough.

Earlier this week I found myself with two hours between picking up my daughter and niece from camp and picking up my dog from the vet. It was hot, traffic was thick, and the last thing I wanted to do was “kill” a couple hours. I had work to do! But the girls pulled me into a fun pet store – the kind that allows snake holding and bunny snuggling and even permits its mascot tortoise to roam freely. The collective animal spirit was working magic on my mood. I was relaxing.  I strolled back to the aquarium section, and there - swimming, swimming, swimming - was Dory the blue tang – or at least her close relative. She was beautiful.  It was just the reminder I needed to keep moving, to keep swimming; but to enjoy the ride, too.  Thanks, Dory.

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