Can We Redefine Productivity and Still Get Results?

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When quarantine slowed down the world, I found myself asking:
Does constantly hustling mean you'll find success?

I don’t think “silver lining” is the right word when thinking about anything coming out of the Pandemic of 2020. When so many people have felt so much uncertainty, loss of income and employment, pain and death, it’s not right to pull away from that reality. But I can’t help being an optimist and I find myself wanting so badly to find joy even amidst the pain. 

For me, in March of 2020, I found something I wasn't expecting. And that was redefining my relationship with time.

I was FIVE days away from filming a series that I had spent three years developing. We were in full Go Go GO mode. We were finally doing it! And then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. Locations were closing, actors dropping out and there was more and more panic as lockdown hit. 

As a producer, I produce things. I make things happen. I do. But I could not control this fire. And so, in March, after our production shut down with no end in sight to reschedule, I went into a depression of sorts. A sudden come-down. I’m pretty sure that all bridges go through this after their wedding day. They plan for months, sometimes years, for ONE day…and then it’s over. 

Well mine was over before I got started. 

I remember for a few weeks, I didn’t want to do anything! I slumped around. I let me kids hang all over me. I was not motivated. 

Then, I went through a different grieving period. 

I remember telling my Mastermind group of industry women, “I’m not even sure I want to be in this business anymore.” My brilliant, patient director friend smiled knowingly at me. “Do whatever your body and mind want to do right now. Lean in to it fully and see what happens,” she said. 

So I did. I wanted nothing to do with filming, writing, acting, directing, or producing. I didn’t even want to watch TV.

I found myself wanting to work with my hands.

I wanted to dig up dirt in my backyard and build a firepit. I planted raspberry and blueberry bushes, a pear tree and herbs. I wanted to paint unfinished projects like my porch, my deck, the trim in my living room and my bedroom walls. I wanted to tire myself out physically. I wanted nothing to do with the entertainment industry. 

And then one night my husband and I were sitting on the couch, after putting the kids to sleep, and we were…peaceful. 

“I kinda like this,” I confessed. “What if I don’t want quarantine to end?” 

He started to laugh guiltily, “I know!” he said. “What does that say about us?”

At the time, I wasn’t sure what that said about us. But, looking back, I know we had tapped into something very special: 

I was caught up in doing, doing, doing versus just being.

For the first time in a LOOOONG time, (probably my entire adult life,) I have been chasing. 

I’ve been chasing dreams and a life that I imagined. I’ve been hustling. I’ve been networking. I’ve been performing shows. I’ve been attending my friend’s shows. I’ve been invited to thousand of events and industry panels, dinners, festivals, groups, parties. Even when I choose one event, there are dozens of other events I am missing because of that choice. I’m getting home late, leaving early or going out in the evening. 

But in the spring of 2020, I had none of that. Nada. NOTHING. 

For about a month, we were experiencing what they call “slow living.” I had no expectations for the days. I had no agenda. I closed my planner. I had no to-do list that constantly needed checking. I could sit on the couch with my husband at the end of the day and instead of asking “what should we do?” as if we should be checking our white board to see if we had enough time to finish a task on our list, I could just “be” with him. We could sit there together, enjoying a glass of wine, listening to music, and enjoying each other’s company without the world on our shoulders. 

I was letting go of "not enough-ness."

I spent about two or three weeks in this “do nothing” or “do whatever I want” phase. And then, I started to feel like I wanted to get to work. But it wasn’t writing a script or selling a movie, it was writing a blog. In the quiet moments and physical work, I had tapped into a part of myself that I hadn’t explored yet. I had given myself enough time and space to release a part of me that I hadn’t listened to before. And I wanted to honor it. 

That’s when this blog was born. This blog was born out of quarantine. Maybe, I didn’t have to only ride or die by filmmaking alone. Maybe I could impact the lives of others in a different way. Maybe there was an additional avenue that would feed my spirit just as much and maybe even diversify my income stream. 

Suddenly, with a new state of vigor, I was building a brand new website from scratch in three weeks. I had started my first email list. I had joined an entrepreneur course. I also had a fresh perspective for the scripts and projects I had left months before. Sooo much was getting done in a short amount of time. I felt focused and energized. 

There was another funny thing that happened during my “do nothing” period. I secured domestic distribution for a film I had produced. I had a TV project being sent to executives all over the world and I was getting traction for a new show. 

Was it possible that I didn't HAVE to hustle or chase things to make them happen?

Apparently, yes. 

I am a fearless, motivated producer at my core, so I’m sure I won’t be embracing slow living everyday. But it has made me want to reassess the way I attack productivity.  

"I now realize self-care is productive.

We are more aware than ever that burnout is not the price we must pay for success. In fact, habits like sleep, nutrition, movement and connection are critical for staying focused and working efficiently.” Marina Khidekel, Thrive Global. 

I realize that having quiet moments actually can increase your learning and creativity. I also addressed a limiting belief of mine that I don’t have to be constantly hustling and busy in order to climb the ladder. And that’s a relief. Cause I’ll take that glass of wine a couple nights of week. 

So how will you redefine your own productivity? See if you can find the positivity in the moment and let it define your next normal. 

shine on,
Meg

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2 thoughts on “Can We Redefine Productivity and Still Get Results?”

  1. Stephanie Powel Friess

    I am so happy to read this article on your blog and to hear you are doing well! My loss was a Choir concert, and when it was canceled, I didn’t ever want to sing again. We planted tons of tomatoes, built a sandbox (that has not been filled because we can’t decide where to put it,) canceled trips, played with the kids, set aside those vacation funds for home improvements. I too think this pandemic is horrible, but the not so silver lining, as you describe, is that we have been forced to wind down and focus on the people and things we truly love. Be still, let the dust settle, and find a little more clarity and calm. It feels different, but I hope some lessons remain, when this is all over. Hope zoom works better tomorrow!

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