Random Acts of Kindness…er…Productivity!

Kindness and empathy are vital human needs.


Much of the pain that we see in our world right now comes from a lack of empathy for those who are different.  And, as much as I would like to yell “Stop it!” to the aggressors, people smarter than me have proven that kindness is the path to real social change.


We know that we should show empathy to others.  But, do we understand that kindness starts with the person in the mirror?


This is not an article on social change, important though that topic is.  This post is about productivity.  However, kindness has a role to play in both.


So, friends, let’s talk productivity…and kindness…and the person in the mirror.


And it starts with permission…


The Gates of Permission


I am a mother of two great kids.  As a parent, one of my common roles is giving permission.  I grant permission to watch TV, hang out with friends, eat junk food, etc.


For my kids, and for many adults, permission is a gate to a secret garden.  Once opened, there are joys and wonders to experience.  The problem is unlocking the stupid gate!


My children must ask politely, and sometimes deliver PowerPoint demonstrations, to attain my permission.  My clients, like most healthy adults, must give themselves permission and open their own gates.


The secret gardens that lie beyond the gates of our adult permission are things such as self-care, self-love, self-esteem, and other mushy gushy (but important!) self-stuff.


So, the first step toward being kind to the person in the mirror is to give yourself permission to do so.  And, kindness leads to amazing things, like world peace and personal productivity!


5 Acts of Kindness that will Make You More Productive


1.)  Give yourself permission to focus on one thing.


In a previous post, I harped on and on about the evils of multitasking.  I also have a YouTube video that documents my feelings on the subject if you really want to see me rant.  You’ve likely heard the arguments before and don’t need them reiterated.  We’re being kind today.


Here is what “giving yourself permission to focus” looks like:

  • You schedule time on your calendar to work on important tasks and say no when others ask you to give up that time
  • You close the door to your office, take your laptop into a conference room, work from home for a day, or even escape to a hotel for a few days to work
  • You pull out your phone, set the timer for 20 minutes, and commit to working on one-thing-and-one-thing-only until the time elapses



2.)  Give yourself permission to take a break.


In another post, I wrote about death, martyrdom, and vacation-taking.  So, I won’t go too much into that here.  The point is, take your vacations.  You earned them and you need them.


A vacation does not necessarily need to involve an airplane and the threat of a tropical disease to be effective.  One of my clients takes “three-hour vacations” when he feels that he has had a particularly productive week.  The mini-vacay serves as both incentive and reward.


In addition to “real” vacations, schedule time every day for breaks.  Don’t wait for your calendar to get filled with meetings to figure out when you’re going to go to the bathroom.  Plan your breaks in advance.



3.)  Give yourself permission to forget stuff.


You are fired from the job of remembering stuff.  You likely stink at it anyway.  It’s a stressful way to live and not very kind to yourself.


In lieu of trying to remember stuff, do the following:

  • Keep a consolidated and comprehensive to-do list, preferably in electronic format. Use it every day, multiple times.
  • Use a tool such as Evernote or OneNote to store all of your fun facts, meeting notes, and stuff you liked on the internet.
  • Centralize your contacts into one place, and yes, this means throwing away all those business cards you’ve collected. Insert notes to help you remember who the heck this person was and maybe even what they look like.



4.)  Give yourself permission to fail spectacularly


You’ve heard the platitude, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”


But, those “ventures” are easier said than done sometimes.  While giving us an opportunity for success, they often carry an even greater risk for failure.


That is scary.  Failure is bad, right?  Consider the following:


Google actually *pays* people to fail.  It is through failures that the company has succeeded.


And, our failures can give us our greatest opportunities for learning.  Tim Fargo says “Analyze your mistakes.  You’ve already paid the tuition – you might as well get the lesson.”


Maybe failure isn’t so scary after all.



5.)  Give yourself permission to be imperfect.


The road to professional burnout is paved with the belief that you can control everything that happens to you.  Striving for perfection can lead to some completely unproductive outcomes:

  • Failure to complete needed tasks
  • Failure to start (procrastination!)
  • Excessive time spent on non-value-added tweaks or “improvements”


Strive for progress. Strive for completion.  Be perfect at forgiving yourself when you fall short of perfection.  Your most significant goals are achieved through a series of small, often imperfect, steps forward.



Remember, you are an adult.  The only one who can give you permission to be kind is you.  If you are being unkind to yourself, the only one who can open those gates is the person in the mirror.


This post originally appeared on the Redbooth blog.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Janet Barclay

    I actually needed this message today – thank you!

    By the way, I think we may be a lot alike. When I was an employment counselor, I loved helping people to write their resumes and look for opportunities, but I wasn’t so great at giving emotional support around loss of income, etc.

  2. Olive Wagar

    I appreciate how you framed the idea of productivity with acts of self-care kindness. Each idea is on target. We hold the keys in our own hands. It’s so easy to let distractions get the best of our day. Thanks for sharing these great reminders on POBC.
    p.s. I do have a rather nice collection of business cards! 🙂


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