Jenna Brown

Jenna Brown

From sloth mode to productive in 6-steps.

Productivity, the state or quality of being productive. This is one of my inherent abilities, and I have always prided myself on being productive, efficient, getting shit done, whatever you want to call it … until recently. When you are self-employed, you have the luxury of calling the shots on your time, routine and productivity. The thought of managing yourself and not answering to anyone? Great! Sign me up! Who doesn’t want that?

The reality is, though, if you aren’t feeling overly motivated on any given day, it is very easy to push the work out a day and then another; this is not only bad for business but also terrible for your sense of purpose in life. Living the sloth life does nothing for your wellbeing.

For a few months this year, I found myself working on the laptop from my couch rather than heading into our office in town or even heading into my home office. The flexibility of our work, only requiring an internet connection and a laptop, saw me becoming more and more sedentary, procrastinating and getting, well, quite lazy, really.


A month or so ago I looked in the mirror and was very unhappy with what I saw, I had piled on weight, was losing muscle tone, my skin was not looking healthy and I was starting to feel that familiar downward spiral calling. I hadn’t been to the gym in months nor had I been getting out for walks or, to be honest, moving around much at all. Not only was this taking a toll on my confidence but the scales were becoming tied to my self-worth and I wasn’t feeling proud of who I was becoming.

My food choices were becoming less and less healthy and my wine consumption creeping into a glass or two most days which is too much for my internal anxiety monster to cope with. Like a lightning bolt, a moment of clarity struck directly into my grey matter and I made the choice to stop the self-pity, make a plan and turn this ship around. Here’s how.

Time to get off the couch

Enough was enough, I had made the decision to get to the bottom of this sloth-y existence and re-enter the world of the living. Hooray, now where to start.

  1. First up, getting back to the gym. I decided to get back into a training routine, and I would do this first thing in the morning. So, the alarm clock was now set for 5.45 am every weekday. Shower, breakfast, Mum stuff (tidying everything up / opening curtains / making sure pets are fed & lunch is made etc…) then off to the gym for an hour at 7.30. This little adjustment in my routine set off a whole chain of awesome changes.
  2. My partner Chris has mentioned that he subscribed to an app called Skillshare, which he was finding really cool. Basically, you pay a subscription fee of around $15 per month, and you get unlimited video courses of people sharing their skills with you. It’s like an extremely high-quality version of youtube, but in a course form, and you can learn anything you want. You can learn to make candles, code websites, do photography, garden; I haven’t found anything missing yet. I checked it out and found a sweet course on productivity which is right up my alley, and it was an absolute game-changer.
  3. During the productivity training, delivered by a young doctor turned YouTuber, I was introduced to a productivity tool called notion. Notion is a free tool that helps you organise your entire life, set goals, manage your day/week/month/year & keep all of your lists in one place. Notion reaches across all of your devices AND can be fully customized, decorated, and super simple to use. For someone who loves to organise, this is basically heaven on the internet. I spent a day consolidating all my lists, setting up projects and planned out my week meticulously, and I felt like the most productive person on the planet.
  4. Next up was getting ready for the workday after the gym. No PJ days, no couch & laptop days, no more procrastination. One of the reasons I avoided heading out into my home office is that it is a freezing room. So I moved things around, had a big clean up and set up the biggest heater we have right next to my desk. The amount of work I started getting through was amazing. It felt so much easier to get on top of, and I was a lot more comfortable working at a desk and having proper ergonomics set up.
  5. I had started hermit-ing a bit, not really going out to socialise or see people, it was just easier not to, but I made a conscious effort to say yes to invites and go out to see people, join networking events, even a party. Saying yes was the easy part; the anxiety build up the days leading up to these events was less fun. The idea of cancelling very tempting, but I managed to stay the course and attend everything I needed to. This was new and novel! Even more shocking, I have been having a great time getting out and about. People aren’t so scary after all.
  6. The last, and biggest task on my list, was to take back control of my weight. I am now the heaviest I have been in my whole life. My clothes aren’t fitting well, I don’t feel comfortable in my skin, and I am not confident. I am ready to get back to a healthy weight that makes me feel good. So, I have consulted an amazingly helpful nutritionist; her name is Mikki Williden if anyone is ever on the lookout for someone to help them with such things. Mikki has a PhD in health & productivity and a list of credentials as long as your arm. Mikki also has a really cool podcast called Mikkipedia and a website with loads of group support for nutritional needs.

Staying the course

This is week 4, and I am yet to see a shift on the scales or bother to try on my skinny jeans because it’s just not time. But, I know, after putting in all the mahi, that the changes are coming. It usually takes my body a month to get with the program, and then the changes start rolling in (the rolls start rolling out lol).

It can feel disheartening in the first few weeks of a big lifestyle change because that’s when the most effort is being put in, and there are little to no results to show for it. BUT, it will come, all in good time. Meanwhile, I am feeling a lot better about my choices and the daily gym sessions are certainly putting a rocket under my productivity for the day. Loads of work is getting done and I am feeling a lot happier within myself.

This conversation reminds me of Newton’s law of motion “An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at a constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force”. Moral of the story? Take action, any action, and get the ball rolling on the thing you want to start, change, move or improve. Once you get a bit of momentum, that’s the hard part taken care of. From there, you need to stay the course and don’t let the wheels fall off.

Leave me a comment with a goal you want to work on, or are already working on, I would love to hear from you.

J

Disclaimer: The J Word NZ and its media content are created based on my own experiences and opinions, as well as those individuals who share their stories with me. I do not have any formal medical or mental health qualifications. If you are experiencing any issues with mental health, please consult your doctor or a medical health professional for advice.

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