Season 2: Unlocking productivity

Madeleine Dore Author, Interviewer & Podcaster

How to seize the moment 

Woman in farm plucking tomatoes

In our productivity obsessed society, we’ve conflated what we do with our sense of worth.  

This means we might get the end of the day and deem it a failure because there are still items on our to-do list.  

But there is so much more to each day than simply what we accomplish. Productivity is just one of the many by-products of living well—the connections we make, the relationships we nurture, the experiences we have also count. 

To reframe how we measure a day, we can start by recognising that we do not seize the day, but rather we can pluck moments. Here’s how to begin to make this shift.  

Make a small start 

Sometimes the moments can slip by because we are overwhelmed or don’t know where to begin with a project or task.  

Of course, we sometimes need big picture thinking, but sometimes expectations, comparison and perfectionism can be bundled up with our ambitions.  

The antidote can be to make something small and simply focus on the next moment in front of you.

As author and poet Eliza Cook said, “Take care of the minutes, and the days will take care of themselves.”  

It feels doable to fill a minute. It feels almost tangible—you can see a minute in a way you can’t see a day or the next week or the next month. And it’s a comfort to think small—to postpone the big, stifling plan for a moment, and just do something good with the minute.  

Take note of the small moments 

As well as focusing on the moment in front of us, we can make space for the small things that bring us joy and satisfaction in our days. 

What we can control in our days is often small—the books we read, the thoughts we think, the people we spend time with, the kindness we extend to strangers, the things we pay attention to—but they are ordinary wonders. 

You can make a list of your own small, good, ordinary things—reading, sleeping on fresh sheets, tidying your desk, listening to a podcast, sending a complimentary email to someone who is doing a good job.  

It’s a comfort to know that we don’t have to overhaul our lives to find glimpses of satisfaction or happiness—we can simply pull something from our list of small, good, ordinary things and begin. 

Create a ballast from the small, good moments  

These small, good, ordinary things can shape a day into something good, even amid a string of not-so-good days. They are the things we can do just for us—not for a badge of honour, not as a favour or to prove something. When they accumulate, we create a ballast made up of good things that can steady us in our days. 

So instead of trying to solve everything, try approaching things day by day, hour by hour, small, good thing by small, good thing.  

After all, a good day doesn’t have to be a day that went perfectly or productivity was optimized—those days are just part of the many variations on a day. Instead, a good day can simply be one where we noted the small, good ordinary things. It’s the moments we can seize, not the days.