Tuesday, May 9, 2017


T H E   G U I D E |  O N E   K E Y   T O   P R O D U C T I V I T Y
On the one key to increasing productivity & decreasing anxiety I have found while writing a book in six months . . .

Despite the fact that my guides usually consist of a mélange of recommendations—such as this on feeling feelings—it's not the case with productivity. I have always thought of myself as the über Type-A, they-used-to-call-me-anal-girl person. My pencils all in a row down to the dust of their shavings. 

Yet, writing my book blew this all off the table—positively. At the beginning stages of my book, I was still working full-time at the Environmental Working Group. I would often be one of the first people to arrive at and the last to leave the office. My commute was an hour-and-a-half one way, with an early rise and an arrival home that turned me into a sofa blob on the clock. Needless to say, I did not have countless hours to spend on my book let alone the site itself or, more importantly, myself as the creator of both. I was also planning a wedding, a move, and sorting through immigration applications at the time. 

That is merely an aperçu of the tasks I had on my agenda. These were not simply tasks but emotionally-charged, large aspects of my life. Some people have the luxury of a wedding planner—I did not. A move for a nostalgic maximalist from Washington, D.C. to minimalist haven Marfa, TX was a riot. I don't even need to mention the difficulty of being an immigrant that even precludes the cheeto-Trump era. I began to feel drained. 

“These were not simply tasks but emotionally-charged, large aspects of my life" 

When we have to trudge ahead full-steam, some of the self-care or holistic productivity suggestions seem too luxurious or frankly out-of-reach. Squeezing in a 20 minute meditation was more like napping on the train during my commute to me. Emotional drainage could not have been recharged through the energy that spoonfuls of this or that herb, superfood, or a bite of whole foods were giving me. I needed to feed myself—my own drive for myself. 

This is when a dear friend mentioned to me a secret 25th hour. We're all given the same universal currency of time, but this is an hour in which most people are either sleeping or slacking while successful people get @#$% done. It's the hour of the side-hustler. Elizabeth Gilbert used it as a waitress/bourgeoning writer. So did John Grisham to write his first book. A lawyer without any previous writing credentials, Grisham dedicated himself to write a page-per-day at 5 in the morning before work. This was his 25th hour. Mathematically speaking, rising an hour early each day to devote to whatever—working on a side project, going on a run, or even having a slow breakfast—provides extra seven hours each week and 24 hours per month!

So, I began to wake up an hour early each day. I did so consistently; the 25th hour is not a dance of this or that day. It works because it rattles and is out of the timeline of your habitual schedule. While I was in D.C. and just at the beginning stages of my book, rising early meant time to dedicate for that. After my move, it became sunrise runs for marathon training to clear headspace for the ensuing work day. The key is always to have the one thing that you focus on during your extra hour. Don't create a mini task list to complete that is meant for your work day. Take this secret hour as a "me" time to work on something that fulfills you to reveal equally hidden aspects and capabilities that you inherently possess. 

Please do tell: how would you use your 25th hour?