The Four Seasons of Productivity

It’s okay if productivity looks different in this season..
~ Unknown

As I write, I’m looking out of my new window. The view is amplified from what it was, the old window 2.5 x 3 feet. The new window is 5 x 7 ft making the forest view outside the window more accessible.

Here, where I live in the northern hemisphere, the energy of spring is in the air, ripe with possibility. People have an extra bounce in their step and are giddy with friendliness when you pass them on a walk.

In spring, because of what we’re anticipating, (and what we’ve left) we seem to have a capacity to put up with the messy transition from winter to spring. It’s energetically chaotic, akin to three steps forward, two steps back as the odd dump of snow distracts the new agenda of growth. And the Canadian geese have returned from their southern vacay, landing on the rooftops squawking loudly their own version of glee to be home.

I can see how this is pent up energy from winter, or perhaps the gift of a long season of rest, where all of nature, and the humans who delight in it, feel ready for the New Way of spring and to invest themselves in what’s next.

In this article I’ll explore a different way to think about productivity. Much of the world holds an on/off view of productivity — on all day long/week/month/year and then off at night to hopefully gets some sleep.

This alternate approach invites you to be curious about how nature is differently productive through each season, including giving thought to what she does not do in each season. Each of the four seasons holds a mix of work and rest. No season is sufficient in and of itself, rather it is the four, held together that we can start to reset to, as New Way of being productive.

It matters that we have new ways to be productive so that we can resist the edges of burnout, so that we can find more ways to experience ease, so that “success” as we know it today starts to look different. And a seasonal view of productivity can honor the best of what we know about productivity while introducing generous measures of rest and creativity.

How is each season productive? I’ll share my own experience below — where you live in the world, the wisdom offered may be different. After I share a few notes below on each season, you will find a light observation practice to take what I’ve shared and make it your own.

The Productivity of Spring

Spring is all I’ve already mentioned and more. It’s a time of frenzied activity and inspiration holding a similar energy to what we might feel at the beginning of a project or new endeavor.

We feel open to what could be, and hold expectation about our efforts. There is an absence of doubt and we easily invest ourselves. This is also the season of starts; seeds are planted, bulbs planted in earlier seasons sprout.

This season while furious is also vulnerable. New seeds need care and we know that not all that starts in spring will survive. Rain, hungry little creatures, wind are also ever-present amidst the doing of spring.

The Productivity of Summer

Turn up the intensity of spring 1000 notches and you’re in summer. Things planted are growing, and demanding care; tending is a daily task. The energy is lush and embodied in nature and in ourselves.

For many this is the favorite season; one of working hard and playing hard. Our culture loves this season and its power and produce.

This is a busy, focused energy that’s all in. We know the work we need to do and doing it without wondering what to be up to. Head down, hands and heart all in.

The Productivity of Fall

As temps cool, and the leaves start to turn color or fall from the trees, we can appreciate that the pace of nature is slowing, temps cooling. The shift is made towards harvesting and appreciating our efforts. In nature, we know this is not the time to plant more, or take on more, it’s a time of surveying, evaluating and being present with our bounty.

In this season we allow ourselves to feel the energy of our work, and what’s come of it. We may feel a sense of confidence and gratitude that our hard work, in participation with the productivity of the previous two seasons has come to fruition.

The Productivity of Winter

This is the season to slow, rest and recharge. This is an essential season to allow ourselves to be in at a new pace. It’s a time to reconsider what matters and why we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing — and ask ourselves if we will repeat this exact earlier “plan” again. We heed the lessons of the past and carry their wisdom forward. In nature, it’s a time of invisible productivity and inward focus.

In winter we do not question rest, we settle in!

There is so much productive wisdom in the seasons!

I’m constantly blown away by nature’s perfect pace. While I fret that I’m not going fast enough or doing enough, nature’s wisdom about how much to do, how hard to work, and how much to rest and when is a welcome gift.

I look outside at spring and see “nothing” happening, yet everything is happening, in its perfectly paced manner. By tomorrow, if I’m willing to see it, things will already have shifted.

As one who is a do-er first, I’m reminded that rest is essential, that I don’t have to go fast to get things done, instead pacing is the focus. Rest is normal and natural. Each season can offer us a “productive reset” so that we can align with this wisdom.

The Practice: A Spring Productivity Reset

First things first — I don’t know which continent you’re on, and what season it is around you. I also don’t know the productive requirements in your mix of work and life right now. And you, Brave One, might be, as a woman, in your own season.

So, with this practice, I urge you to hold your own context with reverence, and bring curiosity without any expectation to do different.

This is a practice of observation first, it holds no judgment or evaluation about how anyone of us are being productive (or still) today. The practice is as follows:

1) Try to find your way outdoors two or three times over the next week. It’s enough to sit on the front step of your home or explore the area where you are for a brief 10 minute walk.

2) When outdoors, take notice of where the energy is, and what is happening around you. Notice what may have shifted slightly from the last time you were outside. What is priority?

For example: I’m noticing temperatures rising and a thaw, energy is going towards warming up the environment and surrendering the nourishment of the snow as it melts. I also see very chaotic energy especially in the eager little forest creatures.

3) As you explore, also lightly notice what is not receiving any energy or attention. What isn’t priority in nature? Be gentle with yourself as you notice, it’s the question that matters as much as the answer, and we are not accustomed to notice where rest, ease or absence of effort might lie.

For example, I have noticed that nature is NOT concerned with perfection or getting herself “organized” or tidied. She’s patient with her transition . Rain, slush, mud, mess are expected. I also notice that there is an absence of doubt or worry; no energy is expended into getting things “right”.

4) When you return home, make a few notes about your experience like the ones offered above.

Noticing is The Practice

The only “goal” of this practice is to notice what’s happening with the season where you are — and what isn’t. It’s enough to be present with it, and take a few light notes.

And then, at the end of your week, or observation period, look at what is happening, and extract your own wisdom and then choose how / if you can reset and or sync with spring in one small way.

Stay Curious!

What would happen if we were more seasonal in our work, our self care, allowing for the different kinds of productivity and the subsequent rest or “non-doing” that accompanies each one?

What if success was allowing our efforts to hold a mix of work, rest, creating, ending etc. and we supported one another in living and working this way? This is a question I find both juicy and relevant for our times. And I’m curious about what you discover as you engage this question over the next week.

If you’ve enjoyed this post I invite you to sign up for the Tuesday Letter, a weekly offering of fresh perspective and practice on the journey of redefining success:



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Susan Doerksen Castro

Susan Doerksen Castro

Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.