Listen to episode 14 on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.
Although productivity and time-management resources seldom address this reality, different seasons of life significantly affect your productivity in different ways. It can be easy to get caught up into thinking we should be able to plan and execute tasks regardless of what is happening around us, but this simply isn’t the case. Your productivity is going to fluctuate based on the season you find yourself in, and that’s not a bad thing.
As we’ve studied our lives and others’, we’ve come to identify three seasons of our productive lives. Everyone goes through these seasons (and it’s possible to be in between seasons), but the key is to recognize each season early, and to understand and embrace the ways your current season will inevitably impact your productivity. In fact, knowing what season you’re in and having clarity about the types of goals and tasks you should be focusing on in that season, is a key component to a sustainable time-management strategy.
Survival seasons are common and can arise in a flash—even the most intentional of lifestyles. Oftentimes they are not even the result of any action we have taken or failed to take. They simply come as a natural part of living in a world where we only have so much control.
(Note: Survival seasons are not crisis seasons, wherein even your most basic tasks are nearly impossible to accomplish. If you are in a crisis season, then it is normal and appropriate for rhythms and typical goals to go out the window as you deal with the crisis. Crisis seasons need lots of external help—whether from family, trusted friends, or professionals [and often all three]. Get the help you need, and this post will be here to inspire you once you are no longer in the thick of crisis mode.)
You know you’re in a survival season when all of your focus is simply on getting through the day. In a survival season, you can’t really think about big goals or forming habits for intentional living, because all of your energy is on making sure basic needs are met and that no major deadlines are being forgotten.
It’s important to remember that everyone has survival seasons, and that being in a survival season doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you’re “behind” in life. Survival mode does not even mark a wasted period of life. Often the survival mode elements are there precisely because you are being situated to tend to extremely important things without even the advantage of a steady pace and ample relaxation. God knows that survival seasons will impact and redirect our productivity in ways we personally couldn’t have prepared for, and we can trust that He is working in ways we can’t imagine or see.
The key, though, is to recognize the survival mode season early, accept the reality of it, give yourself grace, say no to false guilt and shame, and remain faithful. In time, you’ll feel alert to the inner nudges that say, “alright, it’s time to get creative and take some control of the chaos.”
Our episode on 6 Tips to Get Out of the Crazy is all about navigating and transitioning out of survival mode seasons. If you’re feeling the inner nudge to take control of the chaos, then give this episode a listen.
You know you’re entering a reviving season when the pressure starts to lift and you find yourself increasingly longing to get back to your life-giving rhythms. No longer consumed with just getting through each day, a fresh wave of creativity will energize you to start reviving the intentional elements of your life.
The process of reviving is marked by your desire to start organizing all of the expectations on your plate, to get real about your personal limitations, to purge non-essential stressors and time-wasters, to set healthy boundaries, to implement effective but flexible rhythms, and to find new ways to make life-giving space for your most essential goals and dreams. Spending time each day in your planner to get your thoughts organized and brainstorm problems that need solved is normally the first step you need to take to capitalize on a reviving season.
Our episode Quickstart Your Planning is the perfect listen for a reviving season. Our approach to planning leads you step-by-step out of having a vague sense of the different elements you want to build into each week and day, into being able to firmly establish this structure in your life. Give this episode a listen, or jump straight to downloading our free Quickstart Your Planning Guide.
When you set out to make space to thrive—persistently solving problems and reworking your approach to answer the needs of each season—one day you’ll look up and your breath will catch as you realize that you are finally thriving. Seasons of really thriving spring up around embracing your reality, achieving mental clarity about your priorities, and effectively organized your tasks, responsibilities, and goals so that each one of those things align and resonate deeply with who you were created to be. Thriving comes from a life focused on the life-giving essentials, with increasing volumes of non-essential preoccupations falling off the edges of your radar. Thriving comes with strong rhythms and habits and boundaries that string together to create a framework for an exceptional, purpose-filled lifestyle with ample margin for flexibility, creativity, relationships, and growth.
When you reach this place, the very reality that you feel like you’re thriving is—in itself—a reward and a celebration. The goals you begin to set from this season’s vantage point will start to feel intuitive and deeply personal. You may also start to realize that your progress in those goals is accelerated. You will feel compelled to cultivate abundance in new ways. That itch will propel you forward—even inviting you to risk some of the balance you’ve achieved as you stretch to grow. Some of these risks may even introduce a new survival season as you figure out the next big thing: but you’ve how to reign seasons like those in to be only as long as necessary. You still have ups and downs, but as you expand your skillset and rework your time-management approach to match this new challenge, you’ll find yourself in another revival period until you find your equilibrium again and, thriving, your capacity expands further.
Knowing Your Season is a Strong Time-Management Strategy
Knowing the season you are in, is in and of itself a time-management strategy. When you recognize each season early, you can plan accordingly. You can strategize effectively for harder seasons and capitalize on seasons of thriving. This approach gives you the flexibility to honor each season. Recognizing how your current season will shape your productivity will motivate you to effectively leverage your time so that you can advance to the next season of progress.
Blind striving, on the other hand, is not an effective time-management strategy. Blind striving is your default position anytime you start fighting the season you’re in instead of understanding and working with it. It looks like spinning your wheels and trying to force progress on goals and tasks that aren’t actually realistic in your season.
Creating a Next-Right-Step Goal
Whatever season you’re in, the most crucial step to making sustainable progress is knowing what your next-right-step goal is. The ROOTED Goals Workbook was designed to help you identify, strategize and execute your next-right-step goal. It helps you identify your productivity season in key areas of life, and then teaches you to plan and prioritize tasks in the context of your current season—whether you’re surviving, reviving or thriving! Download your workbook here.