Challenges to productivity as we age

Getting things done book productivityProductivity is something we can all improve upon.  However, it always seems elusive.  Recently, I've found it imperative that I refocus my efforts on "Getting things done".  That's the exact title of a book I purchased and devoured back in 2003.  So what happened?  How did I get "off track"?  Why am I not "feeling it" any more? In this first post in this series, we'll take a look at some of the "why's" and in subsequent posts, we'll discuss a course of corrective action that works.

Mid-life challenges

There are a few things that are unique about being middle-aged and productivity.  The first thing is that we've had more time too accumulate "stuff".  It's just the nature of the beast.  As we move through life, we pile up more keepsakes, ticket stubs, magazines (yes I still have some of those), etc.  What should we keep and what do we chuck?  Middle age people can also have a learning curve when it comes to efficiently using time.  I grew up watching the nightly news at 6:30pm, but with on demand apps, I don't really need to be held to that particular time slot any longer.  Embracing and incorporating that new ability, can be a challenge, but it can also possibility boost our productivity, by allowing us to be more productive at different times of the day.  I also believe I'm more in purge-mode than accumulate mode these day.

It flat out takes time, to go through piles of magazines and books and choose what goes and what stays.  I took note of this when my brother-in-law reached an advanced age.  His books were ending up in my possession.  While not ready to get rid of everything, I'm more active in making sure something I want to give to someone ends up in their hands sooner, rather than later  All of that takes time.

Learning and using new media channels

The other is, we can be technically challenged in regard to moving to a new technology.  I spent a year, sorting, purging and organizing my 1,500 disc DVD, Blu-Ray movie collection. Now I'm doing my music collection which is not as large.  The deal with "not letting go" is for several reasons. The first is saving money by not repurchasing something that I've already purchased in the past. The second is not blindly subscribing to recurring service costs, like Netflix or Amazon Music.   Those add up over time, so striking a balance between features and cost will eat into some of your time. Factor both monetary costs and the cost of your time for organizing and maintaining it, along with the cost of the space the physical products take up.  Younger people are collecting their first versions of everything in mostly digital format, so their needs are different, and will be slightly different in the future.

Health = Wealth

I've found that I need to reserve more time for personal health.  It's just the nature of getting older. Plus, you never know what cards you're going to be dealt.  Some people smoke and never get health problems, while others have genetic issues that are unavoidable.  Managing your health history is also something that we need to reserve time for.   Backtracking on health events can be key in understanding and avoiding problems in the future.  I've been tracking my weight with a wireless scale for almost 7 years now.  It helps me interpret my weight, in relation to what was going on in my life at that particular time.  Exercise is the other side of that coin.  I can't simply go to the gym for 30 minutes and fulfill my exercise needs for a middle-aged body. I also need a bit more time for meal planning and additional focus on trying to avoid bad food items.

Productivity killer: Social media creep

I started this blog to help me chronicle a new job search, but at a different stage in my career and life. Part of that search includes using social media.  I've sometimes been frustrated with the level of (or lack of) engagement that friends and family have on social media platforms.  It usually seems like people are "broadcasting" more than sharing and interacting. It's that quest for balance that has created a "sticky" web that seems to be expanding.

I'm actually amazed at some of these people who have built up big followings on Twitter and Instagram (and I don't mean the Kardashian's)  There is real power in communicating this way, but it takes a lot of focused effort.  Managing that effort is part of "Getting things done".

Stopping to smell the flowers

Sounds cliche, but as we age, and as we realize our time is finite, we have a great desire to do things on our terms.  Last year, I lost both my sister and my Mother-in-law to cancer.  Those types of events will cause you to refocus on what's important to YOU.That means not working so many extra hours or working on weekends, and spending time actually reading, doing and interacting with some of the things we've collected over the years.

Addition through Subtraction

I think an often overlooked is that while we want to stop and smell the flowers, we don't take action in analyzing what can truly be eliminated from our lives.  My wife and I used to have season tickets to the Yankees, for the past 2 or 3 years, we haven't attended or watched a single baseball game on TV.  Those kind of choices are very real, and that time can be utilized for other activities.

I'm not saying that younger people don't share most of these challenges, but they have more time to take corrective action, and a more youthful metabolism can often sustain bad eating habits for a longer period.   At the end of the day, when you're middle aged and beyond, productivity and efficiency become more important with every passing day.  Now's the time, to "get things done"!