November 22, 2019
How Gratitude Can Increase Your Productivity at Work
“Gratitude, like curiosity, opens the door to possibility.” – Kathryn P. Haydon, The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative
When the Inertia of No Threatens Productivity
The inertia of no had me by the ankles. It was late September and I’d just completed two legs of the Non-Obvious Creativity book tour. A rare full day in the office stretched out before me—gold, in my opinion. Yet, it was as if my mind was swimming in quicksand. I had so much to do, and, like a defiant toddler, I didn’t want to do any of it.
For a while I wasted time doing the things we do to avoid deep thinking: making another cup of tea, straightening my office, and falling prey to the distraction of social media. Then, I remembered gratitude. That was something I could get into, and I knew from experience that if I did it well, the inertia of no was doomed.
So much had happened those last weeks and I had yet to express proper thanks. When I say proper, I mean actual handwritten notes (except in rare cases when time is of the essence). So I took out my paper, notecards, and pencils and got to work for the first time that morning.
Gratitude is the state of being grateful. When we are grateful, our thinking shifts. Deliberately expressing gratitude is not only the right thing to do, but it’s an exercise in creative thinking that helps break through the inertia of no!
How to Be Grateful in 3 Steps
We can apply creative process to deepen our approach to giving thanks. Here’s how.
- Seek Possibilities
Take at least ten minutes to specifically think up and write down all the big and little ways in which people have helped you yesterday, this week, this month. Let your ideation be in the spirit of the “seek possibilities” guidelines that I share in The Non-Obvious Guide to Being More Creative: think up lots of ideas; write down every thought that comes to you; include crazy ideas; and build on other ideas.
Use the following question prompts to jog your thinking:
– What are all the good things that happened?
– How have people helped me?
– What made me smile?
– When I was down or stuck, who picked me up?
– Who supported my efforts?
– Who could I not have done without?
– Who impacted my life meaningfully but may not have realized it?
- Choose Your Recipients
Just because you think of 15 or 50 people or instances for which you’re grateful doesn’t mean you have to write 15 or 50 notes. Simply recording these instances on paper is an expression of gratitude, and now you can choose the right notes to write.
Take a look at your list and think about the people who are absolutely crucial to thank, those whom you couldn’t have done without. Then, add at least one person who won’t expect a note. You may very well end up writing to the friendly barista who greets you with recognition and a smile every morning.
- Write Notes
When it’s time to write, you have the opportunity to expand upon your gratitude and add more detail. It cannot be overstated how beneficial this is to you, and potentially to your recipient. Handwritten notes of gratitude are all too rare these days and people are universally touched to receive them.
Make Gratitude a Practice at Work
That day in September after I completed my own gratitude notes, the inertia of no evaporated. I went on to have a productive day and move my business forward. Perhaps the resistance I felt was a reminder to tie up loose ends for the good that had already come my way.
The act of expressing gratitude shifts our thinking from lack to fulfillment, from unease to joy, from fear to confidence. Our words ripple out to others in a similar spirit and reinforce the good that they have done. All of this clears the lethargy of the inertia of no and prepares us to keep thinking deeply and originally.
As a daily practice, deliberate gratitude expressed to those around us helps us to be effective leaders of a thriving possibility ecosystem.
How might you incorporate this practice of gratitude in your own work?
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.