Guest Writer | Marissa Kizer | Productivity for a Meaningful Life

INTRODUCING THE LOVELY MARISSA KIZER. SHE IS THE SWEETEST LADY TO HAVE IN YOUR LIFE. I’M HONORED TO KNOW HER AND RECEIVE HER KINDNESS AS MUCH AS I DO. SHE’S ALL ABOUT ORGANIZATION AND CREATIVITY.

So we chatted a bit about what she would like to share, and I gave her the reigns to my blog for this post! <3 We met up to take photos, and I just love yellow on her! Everything from here on is written by Marissa! ENJOY!

One of the most helpful resources in shaping my understanding of work is learning about the Montessori approach to education.  For children in a Montessori environment, work isn’t a necessary evil; it’s their life’s purpose. Their work is the foundation for living in community and developing as emotionally healthy, socially responsible, peaceful human beings. The work can range from tying their shoes and working with the Pythagorean theorem to reconciling with a friend and waiting patiently for their turn on the swing, and it is all viewed as purposeful and communal.

Their work also requires a high level of preparation—both external and internal. One key principle of Montessori education is the “prepared environment.” Montessori teachers prepare the classroom so that everything is in order and the children have access to what they need. Montessori guides must also prepare themselves internally so they may guide the child into a peaceful frame of mind conducive for working. As adults, we also need physical and emotional preparation in order to work well and use our work to benefit our communities.

Emotional Preparation

Hope

Setting goals and pursuing them are foundational to living a productive life. But if you’re mired in depression, grief, and trauma, just getting to the point of being able to set goals and not think they’re completely pointless can be a long process.  Setting goals and visions are incredibly vulnerable tasks that require digging deep into what you truly want and who you truly are—and that inevitably means coming to terms with not having everything you want and not being exactly who you want to be. 

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown writes, “In my work, I’ve found that moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: it’s a cognitive process—a thought process made up of what researcher C.R. Snyder called the trilogy of ‘goals, pathways, and agency.’ Hope happens when we can set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our own abilities to act.”

 

Meaning

In Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes a therapy method he developed and used during his time in a concentration camp to keep people from succumbing to the despair and tortures they were experiencing. He believed in the ability of people to be resilient provided they have a sense of meaning and a belief that they have something to live for. He required each person to think of something they wanted to stay alive for—whether the possibility of reuniting with a loved one or, as for Frankl himself, the possibility of writing a book about their experiences and using them to help others. 

The principles of his method–called logotherapy– are essentially making sure each day includes:

  • something to do,
  • someone to love,
  • and some form of beauty to behold.

Work, community, and art. He viewed work as an essential component for a meaningful life. As creatives, a central part of our work is creating beauty for all of us to behold, as well as appreciating what others make. That’s part of the “someone to love” aspect of it—being in community and abiding by the principle of “community over competition.” When we are diligent about guarding our serenity and seeking out work, community, and creativity, I’m convinced that we really can experience a sense of meaning that can spur us on to even more amazing work.

Physical Preparation

Productivity also requires a lot of physical preparation, and this is the part that I think differs widely for each person. I’m constantly tweaking my calendars, planners, and notebooks to make them work best for me, but here are a few of my favorite ways to keep up with work, school, personal projects, and activities I have throughout the week.

Handwritten planners. I have a planner for personal life where I keep up with each week’s events, deadlines, and to-dos. I also have a work planner that mainly consists of social media plans and work events. Being able to write everything out makes me feel organized, but I typically transfer everything to digital calendars to keep up with deadlines.

Notebooks. I have a different notebook for pretty much every section of my life. Each class, each job, and each project has a separate notebook. It takes up more room but makes it so much easier to keep track of each area of my life. I brainstorm and take notes in my notebooks, but my favorite part is making lists.

Lists. I tend to make a master list every month or so with all the to-dos I can think of, organized by category like School, Home Repair, Blog, Work, Doctor Appointments, etc. Then generally on Mondays I make a weekly master list with goals, deadlines, and anything I want to get done that week. That usually consists of about 30 items. Then, each day when I sit down to get work done, I make a daily list of the most important 5-10 items to finish that particular day.

The Done List. One of my favorite new productivity hacks is the Done List. Every day I simply write “Done” underneath my to-do lists and write down tasks I do during my work period. It makes me feel productive and serves as a catch-all for little tasks like finally replying to a text as well as bigger tasks like choosing fonts or color schemes for a design project. It makes me feel more productive while also giving me flexibility and an opportunity to celebrate each task I complete.

Digital planning. I find digital planning most useful for keeping up with deadlines because I can set alarm reminders and back up my physical calendars and lists.

 

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