Be more productive now
Do you feel like you’re running around all day long, but at the end of the day find yourself wondering what you actually accomplished?
Wouldn’t it feel great to live in a state where there is no hurry yet everything gets done? Imagine how awesome you would feel if you felt relaxed and like your day could just flow easily!
At the heart of productivity is a flow state where you use just the right balance of effort and ease. It is totally possible to train yourself to live this way; by practicing this simple relaxation technique you learn to let go and allow your mind to settle. When your mind is clear your productivity will naturally follow.
Listen to examples of three people who use this technique and then practice along as I guide you! It’s easy and super chill, I promise!
You are going to feel more clear and relaxed and I know that your productivity will grow. Let’s get started!
Hey, my friends, and welcome to The Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into your life. Get inspired with practical tips for your creativity and spirit. If you're a musician, artist, writer, or a creative minded soul, you have found your source for guidance and inspiration.
I'm Gita. I am so pumped about this episode today because it is about increasing your productivity, and I have a feeling that it might kind of shift the way you think a little bit, hopefully. Let's experiment and see. I've been doing yoga for 30 years. I've been teaching for about that long. I'm also a teaching artist and a clarinetist, and I have learned a lot about creativity, productivity, and about the best ways that we can share our gifts with the world. I'm going to share with you today something I learned about productivity that really made me kind of mad at first and made me rethink my entire life, quite honestly.
But since I started practicing it about, it was probably 15 years ago now, my life has changed dramatically. I can honestly say that from 15 years ago, my productivity has been at a steady, like 45 degree growth curve. It's just gone steadily over time up and up and up. The beautiful thing about being more productive is that you have more time to do the things that you love, so instead of running around with like your hair is on fire, you have a little more time and ease in your life for your hobbies, for your loved ones, and your career.
If you're, picked this show, if you hit play at, "Oh, increased productivity, I want that," it tells me a little something about you. You probably want a little something more out of life. You're probably a learner and achiever, or maybe you've been stuck in a little bit of a rut and feel like, "How come I'm not being productive? I'm working so hard. I am busting it. But at the end of the day, I look at the to-do list, and it doesn't feel like I'm really accomplishing anything."
If you hit play, then I applaud you because it tells me that you're seeking for answers, you're seeking for creative solutions, so pat yourself on the back for even reaching for this episode of the show today because that sets you apart. That sets you apart from someone else who's hitting play on another Netflix episode or someone else who's just going along with the status quo. If you're a learner, you're listening to this podcast, it means you really are ready to advance your productivity, and if you picked me to be your teacher today, it means we're here together for a reason. Let's start by getting real about your productivity.
Now, productivity is something for us all. You can be a stay-at-home parent, and you need to be productive. You can be a busy musician, and you need to be productive, a teacher. No matter what you do in life, we all want to be more productive. What I've learned is that there are tons of systems out there to be more productive. There's tons of life hacks. I can recommend one very, very highly of an actual structured system that I actually use every single day. I fill out this productivity planner every day. I do all my projects by his method. His name is Brendon Burchard, B-U-R-C-H-A-R-D, Brendon Burchard. If you want to really learn how to get a productivity habit, accountability strategy, task lists that are actually tied to your mission, go to Brendon. His work is phenomenal, and he has systematized it and taught it to literally millions of people. It works.
I'm a yoga teacher, so I tend to come at things a little bit of a different way. At the heart of productivity lies something that all of the great masters and, in fact, all the great athletes have figured out. It's this heart of being in a flow state, or being fully present, or for a while, they were calling it the end zone. It's a place where your work is completely... well, you are completely absorbed in your work. Your time sort of falls away. You're completely absorbed. There's just the right effort, but you're also kind of relaxed. Time kind of seems irrelevant.
Can you think of a time when maybe that's happened for you? It could even be something like you're reading a book, and you just lost track of time. You look up, and you went, "Whoa, an hour just went by, two hours went by. I had no idea." Whenever that's happened, that meant you were in the flow. You were in the zone. As a yoga practitioner and as a yoga teacher and a musician, I've been really trying to make it my mission to live in that place all the time so I'm constantly present and aware and doing what I'm doing in each moment. That way, everything is art, everything is present.
But how do you get to this place? How do you live in this state of flow, or how do you train yourself when you're trying to be more productive to have that perfect balance of effort and ease? How do you find total productivity? The answer's actually quite simple and a little bit contradictory. The answer at the heart of being more productive lies in learning how to relax and let go. Once you learn how to relax and let go, you can layer on a system like Brendan's and have your strategy sheets and your to-do lists and really just kick butt at it. You'll be great. But if at the heart of things you don't know how to flow with your life and have an attitude of presence and grace, all you're going to be doing is constantly chasing after that piece.
I can hear you guys already. I taught a lot of students. I hear it all the time, "But wait a minute, especially if you live in the United States of America, it's give 110%, it's hustle, it's push. It's how busy can you be." We wear our busyness as like a badge of honor. The busy you are, the less sleep you get, the more productive you are, the better you feel about yourself. I'm here to say, "Let's think about it in a different way." I'm going to tell you three stories of three very different people who all approached this from a very different perspective.
We're going to lead off with Gandhi because he was quite productive. There's a famous story about Gandhi that one day he had an incredibly busy day ahead of him. His advisors came to him that morning, and they said, "Sir, your calendar is full. You have meetings. You have trade negotiations. You have literally millions of people's lives hanging on what you're going to say and do today. There is so much to be done. Perhaps you could skip your morning meditation because we need to get to this list." Gandhi sat and thought. Then he replied, and he said, "Well, if I have twice as much work to do today, then perhaps I should meditate for twice as long." He did just that, sat in silence longer.
: Now, if you think about that, why would that work? He's doing work, and literally lives hang in the balance, freedoms and human rights lie in the balance. Who would you rather have in that situation? Someone who is checking things off a to-do list, or someone who is fully present, conscious, aware, and coming from a peaceful, rational mindset? I think the answer is pretty clear. Those with a clearer mind can make more clear and accurate decisions.
Gandhi is a little bit of a tall act. It's pretty hard. I would aspire to that, but let me take it a little bit down a little bit and talk about me. My story, for those of you who haven't heard it, is I was definitely a high achiever, classical musician, went to the finest schools, big career, performing, teaching, all the accolades. But I also was in a relationship with a man I loved very much who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I was also addicted to achievement. I was addicted to that to-do list, getting things done, and having that external reward for all of my hard work because that proved that I was good enough. The more accolades I had, the better.
I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed. It got me a fair amount of name and, quote-unquote, "fame" in the small way that I had it and a fair amount of sort of career acumen. But all that pushing and pushing and pushing was eroding my health. I ended up, long story short, I ended up at this yoga thing for a week. I had been doing yoga since high school, loved it. Ended up at this week-long yoga training in a very different style. This style was very different from some of the yoga I had been doing where I was even pushing in the yoga practice. This practice, they kept telling me, the instructor kept coming over and putting your hand on my shoulder, say, "Relax. Let go. Relaxation is enough. Why don't you relax, and then move into the pose?" She said things like, "Do 80% of your effort."
I fought it, and I fought it because I was used to cranking into poses. I was used to sitting in meditation and like just bearing through it, 110%. If you're not pushing, then you're not doing it right. But I eventually said, "Okay, let me listen and try it her way." For a week, I practiced that, and it was hard. I struggled against it. In my mind, I was cranky and irritated and just wanted to run out of the room and run a marathon rather than sit there and relax over and over.
But I went along with the training because that's what I was there for. I did it for a week. On the last day we had like a capstone class where we put it all together. She led us through chanting and breathing, and then we get to the portion where we do physical poses. I got into a pose, and I did everything they taught me to. I took a deep breath. I relaxed, and then I just let my body gently move into position.
After I got into the position, I kind of looked at myself and went, "Oh, my goodness. I am about 100% farther into this pose than I have been, and I've been doing this post for 10 years of pushing." In that one week of letting go, it allowed my body to actually advance farther. I got out of my own way. Everything was in alignment. My body and mind found a natural way forward, just like water finds its natural course over the earth, and the pose just unfolded. I was so irritated because I'd spent all those years working so hard at being better at Cobra Pose, and actually, all I needed to do was let go, relax, and the pose just evolved on its own. Needless to say, I dropped all other forms of yoga after that and started following that method and have been doing it ever since for 15 years. My life has just gotten better and better, and I've gotten more and more productive because I've been more and more clear and relaxed.
One more student story just to share with you the power of letting go just from different angles so you can think about it this way, and then you and I, my friend, are going to relax a little together. But I have a student a while ago, this was probably about seven years ago, eight years ago. Let's just call him Al. You can call me Al. Paul Simon. Anybody? Anybody?
Anyway, so the student was getting ready to perform Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with an orchestra, and this lesson that he was... it was about maybe two weeks away from performance time, the lesson I was also being observed as a teacher by my higher ups at the school where I was teaching, so they were coming into observe me teach and do my qualifying teaching session. Then he was getting ready for this competition, and there was just sort of a little pressure around this lesson that should've been all about Mozart, but instead, it sort of became about him preparing and all of this.
He walked through the door, and he just looked exhausted and stressed. I took one look at him. I went, "Oh, boy. There's no way he's going to be able to play Mozart today. He looks stressed and tired and completely frazzled." Luckily I know the student quite well. We had a good connection. I bring him over to the chair. I turn off the fluorescent lights, and I put the two observers way over in a corner.
I said to him, "Hey, let's try something different today. Instead of warming up and doing scales and technique and really crank it on the Mozart and repeating and repeating and really going after it, why don't we try this like little relaxation thing for just about 10 minutes? We're going to let your breathing calm down. We're going to let your body release some tension. You look like you need a little reset from a busy day because you're going to play this epic concerto in a few minutes, and if you're coming at it from a place of stress and tension and near freak-out, and then I'm distracted that people are watching me, we're not going to get anywhere. Let's just experiment and see what happens."
Thankfully, the student was game. Thank you, Al. You know who you are. He sat there in his chair, and I let him through the deep relaxation that you and I are going to do in a few minutes. Then he finished. I said, "Okay, now just pick up your clarinet and just maybe play the easiest scale." Clarinetists out there, it was an F major scale. It's super easy. You pick up one finger at a time. "So just play that scale." He played the scale. I was like, "All right, now just do a little this, little that, keeping it all really relaxed."
I said, "Okay, now... " and he looked a little bit like he was sort of half asleep. I said, "Now, why don't you just try the opening of the concerto?" He played the opening of that concerto, and my jaw hit the floor. I had just wanted him to relax a little bit, let go, kind of shift from a busy day into playing a concerto, which is a lot of notes in an entire concerto there. But my jaw hit the floor because he played with this beautiful tone. He played with such presence. Each phrase, each note, if you know Mozart, they have to be like a little jewel; otherwise, it can just be a little less sublime. He was so connected and so in the moment that he had found the flow state. He played his way through it, and that feeling and lesson of letting go and allowing all the work that he had done come through him, carried him all the way through, he got to the performance a few weeks later and just did a beautiful job.
In fact, he came to me it just about a month or two ago, so that was six or seven years after this experience, he said, "Do you remember that lesson that one day?" He's like, "Somehow you knew that I needed that, so thank you," he said, "but that, I realize now why that was so important, because you course-corrected, or the technique rather, course-corrected my mind and set my mind in the right framework so that I could be productive because if my mind was frazzled and stressed out and disconnected from my higher self, my highest state of being, there's no way that I could connect into my artistic spirit and have a productive lesson or have a productive workshop." He said, "Now I'm all about training my mind first and trusting that the work and the productivity will follow."
It's just another little lesson, and if you think about it, before we do our little deep relaxation, if you think about it, think how children learn. You don't stand over a young child who's learning how to read and yell at them to go faster. That would be really mean. Please don't do that. You give them time. If they get stuck on a word, you help them a little bit, but you let them fumble around. You let them take their time. You just let them be. Or think about how a flower grows. You don't stand over that daffodil in spring and yell at it to go faster and open already. "You're not doing it enough." You just let nature take its time. Just let everything have its place and take its time.
Nothing is hurried, yet everything gets accomplished. Think how you would rather be in an emergency situation or a pressure-filled situation, or you're a musician and you have an audition. Would you rather be that person with the calm mind or the one with the racing mind? Would you rather be the person connected to spirit, or would you rather be the person who's connected to achievement? If you want to be more productive, you absolutely have to learn how to let go. You can only get so far by pushing, and then it tips over to burnout.
Learning how to let go and relax means that you can do it for a lifetime of productivity, not just for a flash, but you have to train learning how to let go. It wasn't easy for me at all. I really fought against it, and in fact, sometimes when I do this technique we're going to do in about one minute, I fight it. The whole time I'm doing the technique, there's part of me that's that's restless against it, kind of like a cranky kid who doesn't want to take a nap. It's like you know you need to rest, but you're still fighting it. That's okay. You don't have to feel totally zen and peaceful all the time. The important thing is that you just practice it. You just practice and practice and practice. The better you get at letting go and relaxing, the more you have that as a skill, and the more you can bring that to your productivity so you can focus on what matters when it matters with full clarity. Wouldn't that be a nice way to live, get more done in less time with more clarity?
My friends, let's relax. If you are driving a car, you need to turn this off now. Don't think that you can power through it because you will not be able to, or if you can, then that's great. Turn it down, come back to this later. But wherever you are, make yourself nice and comfortable. If you're sitting in a chair, just find a place where you feel like you're aligned. You're not hunched forward. You can lean back if you want to. You can lay down on a couch. You can even go lay down on your bed. But wherever you are, get nice and comfortable. Make sure if you're sitting in a chair that your ankles are under your knees and that your spine and your shoulders are stacked above your hips, and just start to adjust your posture so that for the next like, I don't know, four minutes or so, you can just relax so you won't be distracted by being uncomfortable.
As you establish the seated position, just to make sure that your neck is nice and long, and maybe just take one deep breath in, and you can sigh out on an exhale. Just take another breath in, and then just exhale at your own pace. Wherever you are, just one more deep breath in for you, slowly exhale any stress and tension. No high set of expectations here. Let your mind do what it's going to do. Just practice, experiment, see what happens.
We're going to gently take your awareness through all the parts of your body, inviting them all to relax. If it's comfortable for you now, you can let your eyes close, or you can just bring your gaze to the floor and let your vision go a little fuzzy. Know that these next few minutes are for you to train the art of relaxation. Bring a little awareness down to your toes, and give them a little stretch and wiggle. Maybe just bring a tiny bit of tension into the toes. Take a breath in, and hold that tension in the toes. Then let the tension, the toes relax, and let the breath go. As your toes relax, feel that relaxation spreading through the bottoms and tops of your feet. Allow your ankles to relax, your calves and shins relax. Your knees can soften and release, and your upper legs can relax, feeling how nice it is to let your legs just drop any tension. Release and relax.
Your left hip can release, and the right hip can release. Lower spine relaxes and the relaxation travels up through the low back, the middle back, and the upper back, soothing and releasing any tension. Now your shoulders release and relax. The upper arms, elbows, lower arms, wrists, hands, and fingers relax, bringing awareness to your abdomen, releasing any tension and pressure. Chest and your heart relax. Your throat and your neck release. The jaw, cheeks, lips, and tongue relax. Nose, eyes, temple, ears, and top of the head relax. Just taking a quiet moment now to watch your body relaxing.
Now you can just take a nice breath in and out. Wiggle the fingers and toes a little bit. Give yourself a little stretch, and take another breath in, taking in fresh oxygen, exhaling and releasing that all through the body, leaving you feeling completely refreshed and revitalized. Have a little check-in now that your relaxation is over. See how you're feeling. Imagine, my friend, if you did this every day, think about how your baseline for stress would go down, and imagine then when you approach your work in your productivity, you're coming at it from a place of clarity and focus.
By letting go, you actually get farther because you can sustain it for a longer period of time, and you will think and act with more clarity and peace. You have homework, my friend. Your homework this week, I think you're going to love me, your homework is to relax. Relax. I have the best job in the world as a yoga and music teacher: make music and relax people.
You can do my Yoga Nidra. I have plenty of Yoga Nidra, which is just, means deep relaxation. I have plenty of Yoga Nidra, deep relaxation videos on YouTube for you to enjoy. You can take a simple deep breath before reacting the next time you feel stressed out, or you can check out meditation apps like Headspace. It's a fabulous one. I highly recommend that. Keep it simple. Just take a deep breath, and relax. I guarantee it will increase your productivity.
Let's close today with a little chant for peace. I will give the English translation afterwards. You can chant along with me wherever you are if you'd like. Let's begin. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. This means may the entire universe, that means you, my friend, be filled with peace and joy, love and light, om shanti, which means peace. Om shanti shanti shanti.
All right, if you like this, please share with your friends, and spread the love. Sign up at my website for updates, gitabrown.com, and insider deals, and please, follow me on social. Let me know how your relaxation is going. Find me at Gita C. Brown, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I'd love to see you there and make a connection. Keep your peace, my friends, and go forth and be productive. Om shanti.