Over time, I’ve come to believe strongly that content follows form. That is, if you go through the motions, get in the right habits, build the right structure, it’s a lot easier to fill that structure with meaningful substance. It almost comes naturally at that point.
Simply put, it’s a lot easier to be the person you want to be if you put on the trappings of that persona. Re-read both my Dress for Success posts if you want a quick reminder of what I mean. You’ll find them HERE and HERE.
As I take on more projects outside of my “official” job–freelance writing, committees, local support, kid stuff–I’ve been forced to confront the corollary to that theory: it’s pretty hard to do the work when I’m not “dressed” for it.
It’s easy enough to be in a work mindset when I’m in the office, sitting behind my desk in a dress and heels. Everything around me screams “Let’s get this done!” While I finish some days more productive than others, there’s no question that I’m in work mode.
The minute I walk in the door of my house, though, it’s a different story. A million other distractions scream for my attention: kids, running, laundry, dinner, that yummy yogurt place that’s only a bike ride away, surfing on the iPad, checking the chipmunk bucket*. If I’m still able to entertain thoughts of productive outside-activity, any remaining vestiges of those thoughts vanish as soon as my dress hits the dry cleaning pile and I’m ambling about in shorts and barefoot. Instant status: home mode.
With my mounting pile of outside commitments, I need to find a new way to get things done. Work mode won’t fly at home, and home mode won’t get things that feel sort-of-like-work-but-aren’t-what-I-get-paid-to-do done. I need to find a solution, and fast.
I’m fairly certain that the answer hearkens back to my beliefs about dressing for success; I just need to find the right wardrobe. In order for me to get these non-work, non-home things done, I need to define a new, non-work, non-home “wardrobe.” Rather than specific attire, in this case my wardrobe will more likely look like a specific routine or accoutrements: one particular place in the house that I come to identify with getting things done, some particular parameters about how I approach it, maybe even a specific time frame. Once I get those things set up, it will be a lot easier to fill in the remaining spaces with substantive accomplishments. Like putting on my running clothes signals a Pavlovian response in my legs to go, go, go, approaching my home workspace will soon trigger a response to write, plan, achieve. Content does follow form; I’ve seen it happen too often to believe otherwise.
Of course, another part of that formula is accountability. Ask me in a couple of weeks how it’s going.
*If you know me well, you’ll understand this chipmunk reference. If you don’t, it’s probably better that way.