The Key to Vital Productivity: Getting in the flow
Ever notice that the less you do, the less you get done? And, somehow, when you’re in the flow, you can almost stretch time with the efficiency of your execution? Like the more you do, the more you can do? Can we expand to encompass even more than we thought possible?
There is so much mental white noise energy that we waste on worrying about what we have to get done and all we aren’t doing, that if we just cleared that up, we’d see all of these energetic holes appear in our schedule that we never perceived before.
This white noise has a name – it’s called “stress”. In many ways, stress is just a lack of faith. It’s a rupture of trust in the process. It’s your mind saying, “you may not have what you need to get what you want”. It’s the conditionality of “if only I do/have/make this happen, I will feel ok.” It’s fear of what would happen if you let go of the wheel. None of this helps you in any way. Ever. It promises to, but don’t take the bait.
Since I’ve worked to rewire my stress response through kundalini yoga, I’ve found that my productivity has skyrocketed without trying – I get more done with less effort. Sounds good right?
I’ve had many readers ask me about my daily routine given the various hats I wear. I’d love to give you a sneak peak and assure you that we can all stretch our time balloons if we align with our power and drop into the flow. Don’t worry, I’ll give you some pointers.
At the risk of reading like a precious scroll of privilege and entitlement, I’ll share my daily grind with the important caveat that it’s not a grind anymore. I’ve worked hard to shed the frazzled, busy-addicted, stress-junky I once was. Here’s what it looks like these days:
My morning routine
5:45am: My alarm goes off even though I come into consciousness, typically 3-4 minutes before then if I go to bed by 10.
I brush my teeth (I like Earthpaste) and head onto my cushion to meditate.
I eyeball my phone but don’t take a deep dive into messages or email. Technological triage only. I check for any urgent clinical matters, family or friend outreach, and activism-related happenings. I may delete some emails and scan a text, but only if I don’t have to engage in it.
5:50-6:30: This is my daily practice. I tune in with the Adi Mantra, then after 5-8 minutes of warmups I’ll dive into a 40 day meditation I’ve committed to like Kirtan Kriya or Sat Kriya, and then add on what inspires me but usually a kundalini pranayama like one-minute breath or one specific to something I’m working on like building intuition.
I hold this practice like a gem in my pocket for the rest of the day. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.
6:30-7: My girleez wake up. If they wake up before I’m done with sadhana, they know to spectate in silence ; )
6:50-7:10: I dry brush before my shower, and oil pull while I’m in there. I don’t have tremendous product loyalty, and I sometimes use apple cider vinegar and baking soda to wash my mop of hair, but these days I’m using Neem shampoo and conditioner.
On weekends, I have my coffee the other way, sometimes while chatting with my kids (I am saving money for future psychotherapy, don’t worry). They know their mama is a health nut. Emphasis on nut.
I pack the girls and my lunches (why is this the worst part of the day?!) and usually send them chicken stock, coconut yogurt or pastured meat slices and fruit/seaweed/nuts.
My office is an oasis
8-9:15: I head to the train to commute into Manhattan.
On the train, I use my time.
I write if I am feeling inspired. I read what calls to me. I keep a ridiculous number of tabs open on 3 different browsers. I use Google tasks, Basecamp, and Evernote, and I do the best I can to clear my unread emails as they befall my inbox.
9:30-4:30: For many years of my life, I worked at the hospital and my office, seeing patients into the night. Then, one day, I was done with that model. I made a decision, owned it, and everything has been harmonious since.
My office is an oasis. It feels good to my soul to be there.
I fill a liter bottle with Mountain Valley water to drink during the day, I turn on my salt lamp and my Biomat, and I get to work.
I see patients, I do interviews, I meet with thinkers and game-changers. I feel deeply grateful for a purpose-driven career.
I don’t make enough time for lunch (a work in progress), but I’ll often bring sardines, avocado, and sauerkraut with sunflower seeds, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Try it, seriously.
Before heading back to the train, I sweat it out at SoulCycle, or take a Hip Hop class. I love to dance.
Once home, I do my very best to unplug until after my girls are in bed at around 8:30.
Dinner is simple, something like meatsauce over sweet potatoes. We eat together, with my parents who have graciously and selflessly agreed to participate in my Continuum Concept efforts to recreate the tribe.
By 9:30 (yes, only an hour of adult life post girl bedtime!), I develop time awareness in an acute way, and I work to power down and get in bed by 10. Everything, and I mean everything is better when that happens.
I used to work until 1 am and scram out the door with a piece of toast in hand. Yeah, that didn’t work so well.
Often, as you’re transitioning to worshiping the god of bedtime, you have to start by forcing yourself to get up early. It hurts for about 3 minutes, I promise. Then you will shift your rhythm enough to bust that second wind you’ll get around 9:30pm. Then you can finally embrace the circadian cycle that has been begging you for recognition since your teens.
We are designed to get up early. Pre-dawn, in fact. Our ancestors rose with the shift in temperature of the earth. Morning sadhana puts you in a meditative state during a critical neuroendocrine shift in your daily cycle. This changes everything. It has anti-aging effects, hormonal benefits, and sends psychospiritual signals of calm to your system.
What helps generate the flow
1. Silent meditation – Fake it till you make it. If you take time to walk in nature 1-2x/month for 2-4 hours, you send your psyche the meta-signal of abundance. Look how much time I have, I can walk around outside and do nothing! And I mean nothing – no pen, paper, music, phone, friends. When your mind tries to run your to-do list or solve the world’s problems, just whisper, shhhhhhhh.
2. Dance with your to-dos – Perspective is everything. Treat your day like a fun game. If unexpected things crop up, dance with them. Don’t say no…don’t resist. Just move with it, through it, and beyond it. Act with purpose, deliberately, and clearly. Trust that you have what it takes to meet anything that crosses your path. Make “I’ve got this” your mantra.
3. Align – I have come to see fatigue as often a sign of incomplete alignment with self and/or a given activity and/or a symptom of mismatch. For example, I hate food shopping. I think my soul knows there is something wrong with driving to a building and exchanging paper for food I didn’t procure. I yawn all the way to Whole Foods. Every. Time. But, at my office, I feel like I’m plugged into a live wire, I have so much energy.
When you feel tired, irritable, checked out, ask if there’s something you need to see there. Are you doing what is in your best and highest? How can you break out? What can you reexamine? What are you here to do?
4. Delegate – Many of us just do things the way we do them. We imagine that finding another way would take too much time and effort, even if that other way promised to serve. It took me a long time to release enough control to ask for help. Do what you love. If you find laundry meditative, great. If you want to do your own taxes, do your thing. If not, delegate. Personally, I’m not into housework (shocker), managing my schedule, cleaning my office, or generally doing anything that I can hire someone more skilled to do for less than I can generate in the hour it takes to do it. Create energetic space.
5. Feng shui – This one, I’ve learned the hard way. Order sends a meta-signal of peace. I probably don’t need to search in my black hole of a purse for 10 minutes for my wallet. I can just dedicate one pocket to it, consistently. If my desk is clear, my mind will follow. Let go of what you don’t need. If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in 6 months, do a purge and give it away. Get basic. Put things where they go. And make your damn bed (says Kelly to herself).
I’ve learned that “I don’t have time” is code for “I don’t really want to.” Sometimes it just takes being honest with ourselves to let go of what we aren’t ready to embrace. But don’t take my word for it, listen to yourself. You are your best and only life manager. What are your tricks to living in the flow and doing just what you need to?
1⁄2 cup cooked sweet potato or winter squash (such as butternut, acorn, or kabocha), or 1 banana
3 large pastured eggs
2 tablespoons hemp seeds, fax seeds, or nut butter
Virgin coconut oil
Instructions:Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Spoon silver-dollar size dollops into medium heat coconut oil. They cook quickly!
THE KB SMOOTHIE
1⁄2 cup frozen organic cherries or other berries
8 ounces coconut water, or filtered water
3 tablespoons collagen hydrolysate (as a protein base)
1 tablespoon sprouted nut butter or sunflower seed butter
3 large pastured egg yolks
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 to 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee
1 to 2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Note: Collagen hydrolysate is a protein food supplement high in the amino acids glycine, proline, and lycine. It comes as a dry powder.
Serves 4 to 6
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 onion, chopped
3 beets, scrubbed and chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee
1 pound organic grass-fed ground bison or beef
1 24-ounce glass bottle organic crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
Unprocessed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions: Combine the kale, cilantro, onion, beets, carrots, and celery in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bison and cook, stirring and breaking it apart with the spoon, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Serve over squash, quinoa, or broccoli.