We are typically so focused on teaching our children what they need to know to be successful that we fail to recognise just how much they have to teach us. When it comes to productivity there is much we can learn from them. As children we are far more productive in learning new information and skills than we are as adults. Stepping back and stepping out of our 'Adult' mindset can help us to relearn a couple of key skills that we may have left behind in our childhood that just might serve us well as adults.
Get the Sleep you Need
Kids sleep. A lot. When they are awake they give whatever they are doing everything they've got, which means they sleep when they need it. Without enough sleep they are unfocused and irritable. What parent among us has not experienced that! However, without enough sleep we are the same. But, we lie to ourselves ab out it, saying we're fine, that we don't need any more sleep to operate. Research shows us though that a lack of sleep can impair our abilities as much as too much alcohol can. Without enough sleep we lose focus, our memory suffers and our attitude shifts to negative. To be more productive you need to make getting the sleep you need a priority.
Trial and Error
Kids learn by doing. They keep on trying something until they get it. They are even willing to take a few risks along the way, make a few mistakes, take a few bumps and bruises in order to improve and achieve their goal. Just watch a young child learning to walk, letting go of the coffee table as they step toward the couch. The pride when they make it and the determination to try again when they miss.
Trying something again and again helps them to perfect the skill. This is how we learned to walk, to eat, to talk, to ride a bike... It still works for us today, we just have to hold our pride in check and allow ourselves a few missteps along the way!
Keep the Routines
If you've raised a child you know how essential it is to build some solid routines into their day. These routines are their safe-zones, leaving them able to deal with the other changing elements in their day. The structure gives them the security they need to explore fully all of the 'new' experiences they are faced with.
We are much the same. Without some solid routines, and the habits they build, life is likely to feels constantly changing and perpetually overwhelming. We want to focus our mental and physical energies into dealing with the 'new' issues we face, in building 'new' skills, not in constantly solving old ones. Strong routines manage the 'old' so we have what is needed to take on the 'new'.
Focus on 1 Thing
Kids are remarkable in their focus and concentration. It may not be for tremendously long duration, but when they are engaged in something they tend to give it all that they've got. They are living fully in that moment, attending fully to it.
We, on the other hand, divide our energies amongst multiple tasks, trying to attend to too many things at once. this tends to decrease our effectiveness and productivity, not increase it. The better able we are to focus on one task at a time, the faster we will actually get it done.
Know When to Stop
Kids can go, go, go... and then they collapse. They are interested in an activity... until they are not. And the distinction is clear. They know when they are done, when they have had enough, when they have lost interest and need a change or a break.
We, however, have learned not to listen to the inner voice recommending a break or change in activity, choosing instead to push on through. However, our productivity markedly decreases when we do. When we feel our attention waning we do far better to take a small break or to switch tasks, each of which allows our brains to focus on something different. Switching it up helps refresh our brains, to keep our focus and attention up, which is a huge boost in our productivity.
If you've ever wished that you could be a kid again... here's your chance to introduce a few childlike qualities into your day, helping you to be more productive. The bonus is, of course, that getting your work done faster allows you a lot more time to go out and play. Recess anyone?