I’ve been joining some incredible deep-work sessions online (with this UK based group called Flown – check ’em out, they’re WONDERFUL) and at the end of this Friday afternoon’s session, I realised this:
At the start of every 2-hour deep-work session, we are put into smaller breakout rooms of 3-4 people where we state our intentions and goals for that time.
Then, at the end of the session, we go back into our groups to tell each other how we got on.
And here’s the thing: in all the weeks that I’ve been going, I don’t think I’ve ever come across someone who came back at the end and said, “Yep, I got it all done.”
Almost everyone usually says something like,
“Yeeeaaaaah… I got most of it done, but it ended up being more work than I anticipated so it’s going to take me longer.”
“I only got 2 out of the 8 things done. XXX came up midway through and I got pulled away into something else.”
“I just couldn’t focus today and my head is all over the place so I didn’t get make much progress.”
“I got some of it done, but I’m definitely going to have to stay on and work another 1-2 hours to get it finished before I stop for the day”.
Here’s the thing:
Every single person focuses more on what they haven’t managed to get done, than on what they have.
If/when they recount what they have got done, they mention it very briefly, almost dismissively.
But when they share what they haven’t managed to complete, or how they got distracted, or how they overestimated what they could achieve, they sink into an energy of apology, disappointment or shame.
That’s almost every person I’ve met on these sessions – including myself.
While we’re each sitting in our own little pod of self-beratement for not getting it all done and feeling like that one loser “who can never get her shit together”, we’re missing the blindingly obvious fact that everyone else is also probably experiencing that same work flow and giving themselves that same self-punishing talk.
Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it more okay for us to beat up harder on ourselves.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it’s realising that it’s totally, forgivingly okay that we don’t do everything we set out to do.
That we set higher expectations and drive ourselves harder than is necessary – or even realistic and possible.
As someone in my group said today, “I guess it’s not a productivity thing. It’s a being human thing”.
Let me repeat that for you who skimmed over the last bit:
“It’s a being human thing”
This thing of not hitting 100% of our goals 100% of the time…
Of setting out to do something, and then ending up doing something totally different…
Of having things derail, or go down black holes, or take on a monstrous life of its own…
Of getting silly distracted, or getting brain fog, or getting bored, or just not being in the flipping mood to do it…
This thing is not a bad thing, or some thing that’s wrong with us.
It’s a being human thing.
And if that isn’t an okay thing to be, then I honestly don’t know what is!
So, as I sign off here to skip into the weekend, I leave you with this question (and response):
Did you get everything done that you set out to do this week?
If you did, yay, you!
If you didn’t, also yay, you!
Let it go today. Have a fucking excellent weekend. Don’t make plans (or make some wacky ones!). Relish. Nourish. Expand. Float. All those good things.
Get back to it next week, it’ll still be there waiting for you to bring all your glorious, unexpected, messy human-beingness to it.