What’s in your toolkit? A look at the enneagram and productivity

I’m not proud of this but I was that 10 year old who read self-improvement books. Even at that age, I was convinced something was lacking in who I was, like everyone had this big secret to life that I wasn’t allowed to know. I didn’t understand this feeling until I learned about the enneagram, which is by far the most helpful, least self-indulgent tool for self-improvement I have found. 

For basic info, check out: https://exploreyourtype.com/details or the book The Road Back to You. I’m not an expert so I don’t want to go into too much detail and end up giving false information. 

But it’s a personality typing system that focuses on motivations rather than action. As a human being, the enneagram has been transformational, but it has also been incredibly helpful as an actor and a writer. You always have to know what your character wants, and when you can figure out what their enneagram might be, you have a more complete picture of what they want-in the scene and in life-and why they might want it. This kind of thinking makes your characters much richer and deeper.

I am a 4 on the enneagram, which is the individualist or the dreamer, with a strong 3 wing (the performer). I am always excited for the fresh start I imagine is inherent with the new year. Time and time again, I am coaxed into creating goals and plans, DREAMS, for the year ahead, and yet I often get side-tracked long before reaching most of the goals.

Last year, I gave birth to my first child, my sweet baby boy. It was a huge wake-up call that nothing will happen unless I will it to happen. I am a 4 on the enneagram, so the idea part is pretty natural for me. When my husband comes home from work, I often jump up and down (literally, I dance around) telling him no story ideas, business ideas, hobbies, life changes that excite me. The brainstorming and daydreaming are second-nature. It’s the doing that gets to be tricky. Luckily, the 4  goes to the 1 (the perfectionist) in health. Knowing this and learning more about the enneagram has been my key to that ancient old, rusty lock on the door to success and action. So, while my dreams might be flowing, I am taking specific actions to ensure that this time next year, I’ve drawn the dreams from the floating thought bubble, and will be holding them lovingly in my arms.

Channeling My 1

  1. I love making lists! There’s something creative and satisfying for my brain to list out my thoughts, and even more satisfying to go back and check off items! But wait, where did my list go? Better start a new one. But not with this pink ink (5 lines in). Let’s crumple this paper and write with purple ink! Oh goodness. This is why I don’t get anything done! My two tools for list-making that I now use to keep me on track: Wunderlist and my Bullet Journal. My Bullet Journal allows for goal-tracking (which I’ve broken down into Quarter, Month, and week), and the wunderlist allows for multiple lists (story ideas, craft supplies to purchase, etsy tasks, poshmark tasks, etc.).
  2. Time blocking! I have talked about this before. Time blocking is still my friend, but with a baby it can be difficult to stick to, as his naps are still a little unpredictable. So what I like to do is take my biggest tasks and, rather than assign a specific time, I say, “I will write for my web series after he goes to sleep for the night or I will work on this audition material when he takes his morning nap.
  3. Minimizing the decisions I have to make. Again, this is probably my 4 showing, but I like to go big or go home. Getting dressed is important to your productivity. Do you want to know when normal people wear their pajamas? When they go to bed, and when they are taking a sick day. I used to wear my pajamas or lounge clothes ALL DAY. And then often sleep in them. And then change from one set of footie pajamas to another. My mindset was lazy and it showed in my outfits. But I always felt like I had to get dressed with such flair, and make a production out of which outfit to wear, how to style my hair. This is just one area of my life that I have mentally tidied by minimizing choices. I now on a daily basis have a pseudo-uniform I try to adhere to: braided hair, a colorful skirt, and a solid top. There’s still room for creativity, but it’s such a simple thing that makes me feel put together and doesn’t take a lot of time out of my day. Another thing? Meal planning. Just limiting your options and having prepared meals at the beginning of the week saves me so much time.
  4. Have set time for the TV to be on (or make it a challenge- I can watch TV after 1, 2, and 3 are done). I swear, between not having internet for this past week and Milo finally going to sleep at a normal time with consistency, I feel like my husband and I have been manufacturing time. I actually went to sleep early last night. Not because I was super exhausted, I just didn’t quite know what to do with myself after the 5th night of having so much extra time on our hands!
  5. Figure out ways to make your work work for you. No one can do everything, so make sure the projects you take on are working for you and what you want out of life. I’m on a job search right now, but in the meantime, I’ve been looking for other ways to make money. I recently opened a closet with Poshmark, but didn’t want this endeavor to take over my actual passions. Then, I remembered that I will probably be costuming my film at the end of this year, and the film is set in modern day. So, I can shop the thrift stores for trendy clothes, and anything that I don’t sell can be used in the film. Also, I was planning to do a prop styling and photography challenge this year, and now I get to practice those skills in taking pictures. I took something that I kind of had to do and have found several ways it can serve other areas of my life.

These have really helped to keep me on track!

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