I know what you’re thinking.
Not another ‘What I’ve learned from my pets’ post. Besides, productivity? Everyone knows cats love nothing more than sleep.
But you might be surprised. Cats have mastered ingenious ways to effectively use energy and achieve results — without ever looking like they’re doing much at all. To a lot of us, that’s the ultimate goal, too.
Productivity isn’t about volume, it’s about intention.
How often do you find yourself wishing your day had at least 30 hours?
Perhaps you feel like you’re doing a lot, but without actually getting a lot done. Maybe you are biting off more than you can chew.
Sure, we can come up with countless strategies, plans and goals. But often it’s the subtle changes we make to our already cluttered daily routine, that make the most impact.
Cats always get what they want in the end. Here’s how their brilliant practices can enhance your game plan!
1. Wake up at 5 am every Sunday
Don’t kill me just yet. Most people’s creative brain is most active first thing in the morning. And top achievers don’t waste a day when they are mid-project.
They diligently show up at their desk first thing every morning. Regardless of the day of the week, or the intensity of their antics the night before.
For me, this sure as hell started involuntarily.
During the week, I appreciated the cats impersonating a crazy alarm clock. It’s great to start your day with laughter, as they wake you up wrestling each other on the bed. Or alternatively, causing unimaginable pain when they jump on your stomach from the highest shelf in the room.
But on Sunday mornings I wanted peace.
The cats wouldn’t have it though. I could close the door, and they would scratch and meow behind it. So eventually, I gave up.
I started getting up with them. Now I can’t thank them enough.
On Sundays, early mornings are different. The neighborhood is a ghost town. Ravens are scavenging, the odd plastic bag flowing through the air makes as much noise as a steam train. Foxes, otherwise strictly nocturnal, dare to stay out longer.
Disturbances coming from the outside world are minimal. You get the most done. Sit down to work for just a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, and you’ll be ahead of everyone else. There’s an alchemy of strangeness about those quiet hours. Your imagination gets vivid. Your creativity peaks. Your logical thinking thrives. Your focus triples.
Feel free to have a kip or a Bloody Mary afterwards. You’ve just utilized your Sunday morning. A treat is well deserved.
2. Work in short outbursts, add more rest
Although some ingenious minds are able to work effectively for hours on end, most of us earthlings do need breaks in order to continue functioning.
One lunch break is not enough. We should also have a mid-morning booster break, a tea-at-5 break, and at least one brisk-walk-around-the-block break in between.
And we sure as hell shouldn’t work after dinner. Do your body a favor and let it digest comfortably. Whether you’re a daytime bee or a nocturnal artist, always remember to install sufficient intermissions.
Cats apply this rule brilliantly. They rest more than they are active, but once they do start running, they’re unstoppable. A cheetah takes nine hours of rest to mobilize the strength to be the fastest animal on Earth for five minutes. But doing this on a daily basis is precisely how she claims and keeps her place on the top of the power pyramid.
If your best productive hours are scarce, and then you spend the rest of the day doodling, don’t be afraid to reduce your working days to those hours only. And dedicate the rest of your time to activities that recharge your batteries.
Some of the most creative people in the world only work 3–4 hours a day! And you might soon find your working window naturally widens, because you’re no longer torturing yourself to produce at all cost.
Easily said, but what if you are an employee?
Back in my corporate days, I used to zone out at my desk all the time. I couldn’t walk away from my desk too often, so my brain forced me into mental breaks by simply switching off, leaving me staring into space.
Don’t ever let yourself get into this mode.
Explain to your boss you need some air to refresh. When you need an unscheduled caffeine fix, offer to bring them coffee too. Soon they’ll welcome the concept, as they notice you are more productive.
Of course we all have to follow some sort of schedule that pays the bills. We cannot always take naps in deserted meeting rooms. But regular breaks are proven to improve performance. Overdo it today, and you’ll be aching tomorrow.
3. Wear a uniform
According to minimalists, one of the most practical things you can do to free up some mental space, is to create an everyday uniform. Although they narrow it down to just a couple of key looks, this is individual. You can keep more options if you like.
The goal is to have only a few core pieces of clothing, in which you feel your best. Make the clothes easy to combine. Keep only the colors you like best. Keep the styles effortless to throw together.
Before you know it, a chunk of your morning is free. Use the 10 minutes to fuel your body and brain instead. You can throw in a few push-ups for good measure.
Cats follow this concept with great pleasure. They make a point of cleaning their coat sleek and shiny every evening, and it makes them feel powerful as hell the next day, without loosing as much as a minute.
Ever since I cleared a rather alarming number of useless rags out of my wardrobe, my morning mindset has decluttered as well. I spend 2 minutes choosing from clothes I love, and it sets an easy tone to the day. My mind is free to think about stuff that matters.
Whatever your work dress code, pick pieces and styles you like best, and don’t bother with the rest. One less decision to make equals an easier morning altogether.
4. Follow the sun
Cats to reposition themselves strategically to follow and bask in the golden rays as the day wears on.
Back in my old office days spent under artificial light and freezing aircon, I used to dream of sunlight, warmth and natural air all the time.
So when I finally started working for myself, I would follow the cats to the balcony with my laptop every chance I got. I’d have lunch in the sun. The daychair by the large window became my favorite studying spot.
There was a reason I craved sunlight so much. When out on the balcony, technically I was still just sitting at my desk, but somehow it didn’t feel like work at all. My environment changed from sterile ghastly grey to lively blue and green, the air smelled of lavender, and my creative efforts were complimented by endless variations of birdsong.
The cats certainly have their life essentials well figured out, I thought.
Instantly, I felt healthier. In a few days my skin lost its grey tint. I discovered it’s possible to love early mornings. I was surprised. Recovering. Inspired. Happy. I ditched my vitamin D tablets. If you’re aching to update or change your working set up, following the sun is a great bet. Utilize your patio, or move your desk near an open window.
Next time you find yourself fighting a creative block, take the outside table in your favorite cafe or find a beer garden. Anything will do. Even a park bench. Set aside the time in the morning to walk to work. If it’s too far, get off the bus a stop early. Let the sun and the crisp air work their magic. Your brain will thank you!
5. Ditch what doesn’t serve you
If it doesn’t serve purpose or progress, throw it away. If it’s not practical, donate it. If it doesn’t trigger joy, get rid of it. If it doesn’t fulfill you, plan how to get yourself out.
Cats only ever bother to get up for things that provide for their needs, or are entertaining. Humans are in fact similar. In our core, we need very little to be content.
Think about your everyday. Is there anything you’re doing that no longer benefits you? Or even holds you back? Are there any unconscious behaviors you don’t even realize you’re doing anymore?
Free up the time to create intention and presence. Give priority to things that move you forward and keep you lighthearted.
Your day is too short for doing things that don’t serve you. Make intentional chunks of space for productivity, instead of trying to squeeze it in. Whatever doesn’t feel like a priority right now, put it aside. Or delete it altogether.
Don’t let your most important callings be pushed off the to-do shelf.