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How to Be Productive with Meaning

And Without Burning Out...

By Kathy TsoukalasPublished 29 days ago Updated 29 days ago 2 min read

I get a lot accomplished each day, but unless my activities have a deeper meaning, it's really just busy work.

Eventually, this lack of meaning takes its toll. I eventually burn out. The key, then, is to learn how to be productive with meaning.

What does this mean?

It means that every action I take is measured against my values and/or personal mission statement, no matter how small. If it does, then the activity is a worthwhile one.

Start by Creating a List of Values

For me, the process starts by creating a long list of values. What do I value?

Here's a short list of my top values - your list might look different:

  • Authenticity
  • Balance
  • Creativity
  • Faith
  • Growth
  • Loyalty
  • Respect
  • Learning
  • Meaning
  • Family
  • Community
  • Health
  • Fun

So, before I create my to-do list, I think about my values. Do the items go along with it?

Keep in mind that some activities might indirectly impact your values. In my case, for example, I like to keep my workspace clean and clutter-free. I do this for ths sake of one of my values - creativity. I have abserved that I can often trace lack of creativity to a cluttered workspace.

Develop a Personal Mission Statement

The personal mission statement has been the key to growing my online business because it has saved me from wasting time on ideas, to-do list items, and pursuits that ultimately won't help me achieve that mission.

My mission is to create content and digital products that use my life experiences to help make people's live better.

Frankly, before the mission statement, my days were always busy but left me feeling pretty empty.

Everything changed when I created my personal mission statement. Now, every decision I make is measured against the mission statement.

Learn How to Say No

I said "yes" to so many things, I didn't have time to pursude my goals. Leanring how to say "no" has been a big key to my development.

Surprisingly, the main person I had to learn how to say no to was myself. As an example, I am multi-lingual. I am fluent in German and I learned Greek as a child. I started to learn French and Spanish last year while also juggling my MBA program and maintaining my German and Greek.

Ultimately, I said "no" to my French and Spanish studies and took them off my plate. The MBA program was aligned with my mission, and in that moment, learning French and Spanish weren't.

I need to say no to people, as well. For example, if a friend asks me out to dinner, but I have some work I need to get done, I might have to say no. But since I value community, I may decide to go to the dinner. It depends what I have going on.

Test the To Do List Against the Mission Statement

If an item on my to-do list isn't aligned with my mission statement, I don't do it. Without the extra step of honoring my mission, my list is filled with things I "should" do, not those that I am meant to.

This process has allowed me to work full time, write on the side, study ballroom dance, learn several languages at once, have a social life, regularly attend church, and last year, I even earned my MBA. I am exhilarated by what each day has in store.

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About the Creator

Kathy Tsoukalas

I was a burned out writer until my creative practices helped me heal.

Happy to be here on Vocal to find new ways to express myself while also learning from others.

Find Me: Twitter/X | LinkedIn

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    Kathy TsoukalasWritten by Kathy Tsoukalas

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