Do you struggle to stay on top of your tasks?
Does this lead to cycles of anxiety, guilt, self-recrimination and generally not being very nice to yourself?
If so, compassionate productivity might be for you.
You just have a certain preference for how you like to work – and you haven't yet learned to put in place the systems you need to support that working style.
Compassionate productivity is an approach to creating these systems.
It doesn't rely on particular apps or technology (although you can certainly integrate these into your systems as you build them).
It's not about grinding through tasks or using 'hacks' to fit more into your already overloaded schedule.
Instead, it provides a framework for thinking about your work and your life.
It's a set of interlocking systems and tactics to help you stay on top of things, be more productive – and most of all, be happier and kinder to yourself.
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'Anyone who's been challenged by a diverse and abstract working life has tried productivity tips and tricks like to-do lists, pomodoros or time-blocking. Andy's Compassionate Productivity series excelled for me because of his broader view, especially his patient insistence on grounding my productivity properly in my emotional context. No technique overcomes an avoidant relationship to work without the acceptance that issues like procrastination, getting blocked, or struggling to prioritise tasks all depend on stable emotional regulation and presence. Andy is a practical and empathetic coach who was ready to take the track I needed. I didn't just benefit from working with him, but also obtained greater insights I will be able to build on as an independent contractor.'
– Tom Lynch, freelance programmer
'Before working with Andrew, I was struggling with the volume and extent of my work – I would say yes to too many things, and not have enough clarity about what I was working towards. Andrew helped me to clarify what was important to me, what I wanted to focus on, and what I could realistically achieve as a normal (mortal) person with a whole life and set of interests beyond work. I was worried the content might be about managerial newspeak, or trying to be perfect, mindless worker bees. Instead, it was the opposite. It was about throttling back my expectations of myself and figuring out how the real version of me – rather than an idealised version – can get things done. Andrew is also a very genuine person who shares his own struggles about productivity. He steers you towards the books and ideas that will resonate most with what you’re going through. You still have to do the work and the thinking, though! The best thing about compassionate productivity for me was that it helped me to develop a framework for saying no to things, and focusing on the longer-term picture. If you're hesitating, I'd say: it's a modest investment in yourself, and one you’ll get a lot out of.
'I used to be organised and on top of it all but due to some massive life changes, it all fell by the wayside and I have been perpetually scrambling to Do All The Things over the last few years, with no clear plan or system to support/integrate the various facets of my life. Working through the month-long Compassionate Productivity course forced me to ask myself some hard questions about what I was doing and why, what I really wanted to do with my time (as opposed to what I felt I should be doing), the genuine limitations on that time, and my personal optimum conditions for creativity and productivity. Even more importantly, it forced me to come up with the answers to those questions! Having someone to talk to who has been in the same boat, and who has come up with his own answers, was invaluable as was the weekly "check-in" factor that kept me honest. It's still early days, but already I feel much more in control of my time and the work I take on - and I've learned (again!) that I can say "no" to opportunities if appropriate. Most importantly, I have made space for my own creative work to flourish once more. Ironically, although I could see the potential in the Compassionate Productivity course, I initially dismissed the idea of enrolling as I was super busy and overloaded. Maybe I could look at it again when I had some more time? Which was, essentially, what I had been telling myself for the past few years in regards to getting my act together. Which was obviously working a treat! But I've known Andy Macrae personally for many, many years and I trust him to follow through on what he promises. I also trust that he would only be offering a system that he genuinely believed would be helpful to others. Really though, it was the "Compassionate" part of Compassionate Productivity that convinced me. Compassion is one of my core values and the idea of an approach to productivity that was based around compassion and creativity was not one that I'd come across before. It felt like it might be the perfect system for me, so it was worth making some time to find out. I'm so very, very glad I did!'
"Having hit burnout after decades of overwork, Andrew Macrae’s Compassionate Productivity approach was just what I needed to get back on track without compromising my health. He has done a deep dive into the productivity literature, tested it against twenty-first century demands in his long experience as a freelance professional editor, and emerged with pearls of wisdom and a clear, practical system. His measured and supportive advice not only cut through the unhelpful work habits and thought patterns I had developed, but set me on a new, more realistic, resilient and sustainable pathway to achieving my goals."
My name's Andrew Macrae. I'm a writer and editor based in Hobart, Australia. I've spent years trying (and often failing) to stay on top of my to-do list. Somehow, I've managed to publish a novel, finish a PhD and build a thriving freelance business. During this time, I've developed a set of systems and approaches to productivity and to life as a creative/knowledge worker that are too good to keep to myself. I want to help you with your struggles to get more done – and above all, be kind to yourself.