Image by Paola Merrill
On this website, I want to focus mainly on improving your productivity, and the tools, methods, concepts, thoughts, and experiences from the field that can help with that. I read quite a lot of books, mainly non-fiction, which help me to improve myself in different areas. These are not only the obvious productivity-related books but also special books that help me to bring a good balance between being productive and living a healthy life, both physically and mentally. One of these special books for me is “The Cottage Fairy Companion”. In this article, I share 10 lessons learned from “The Cottage Fairy Companion” by Paola Merrill.
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Why I review The Cottage Fairy Companion
In addition to everything productivity related, I am also interested in minimalism, slow living, and intentionalism. In that search, I came across the book “The Cottage Fairy Companion”. It may not be obvious at first why I chose the book “The Cottage Fairy Companion” by Paola Merrill for my first book review on this website. But that will become clearer later on. Paola Merrill is a young woman who, initially alone, and recently as a married woman, lives in a rural area in Okanogan County, Washington State. Paola is an artist and offers her special creations through her Etsy shop. In addition, Paola fills her days as a bookseller, reading books, her love for nature, and making Youtube videos. Paola describes herself as a quiet cottage fairy seeking a gentle life.
Paola Merrill knows how to enchant more than 1.25 million subscribers in her immensely popular video series with a completely unique view of a balanced and more intentional life. In balance with nature and in balance with herself. Paoloa shares both positive and negative life experiences, coming from a history as a workaholic and someone who didn’t take care of herself in the past, like having an eating disorder. But she learned from that and came out better, by developing a more positive relationship with herself. She is wise beyond her years. Like an older soul in a young body. With her enchanting atmospheric videos, soothing voice, and wise words, Paola knows how to take you out of your own busy life for a while. And that is exactly why I find this book, but also her Youtube channel, so important for being productive. Many of us live terribly busy lives and we still live in a world in which we glorify being busy. But being productive is not the same as being busy, it is about intentionality and being smart. We can only be really productive when we have found a good balance between all the components that are important in our lives. So, that’s why I want to share 10 lessons learned from “The Cottage Fairy Companion”.
You can find “The Cottage Fairy Companion” via the image below (affiliate link):
Who is this book for
On this website, I focus on everything related to productivity. Productivity is about using our time intentionally and effectively (Ali Abdaal). Intentionally using your time is all about balance, making the right choices about what you do with your time and what not. Intentionally using your time is not about using all of your time being busy, but also using part of your time to find rest of mind and body, to be able to be maximally productive in the rest of your time. “The Cottage Fairy Companion” is for those who are interested in finding the right balance in their lives.
10 lessons learned from “The Cottage Fairy Companion”
Below are my 10 personal favorite lessons learned from the book “The Cottage Fairy Companion” and the reasons why.
Busy days are good days, when followed by quiet moments.Paola Merrill
As I mentioned in the introduction, in my opinion, it is important to bring balance to your life. You can’t just work and always be productive. Part of your time you have to live in the moment and experience a normal life consciously without working or thinking about work. Your productivity only increases when you use the other moments for mental rest.
Everything takes time. Each flower grows differently, blooms at different times, withers, and goes to seed. You can never truly predict what will happen, but you can embrace the process.Paola Merrill
As humans, we tend to focus primarily on the end result. But with only a look at the result to come, we lose sight of the fact that the end goal is the result of a combination of small steps. Being productive should also be fun, so enjoy these steps, the process itself, as a painter enjoys each individual stroke across the canvas. Live more consciously in the now, for a better result in the future.
To this day, when things are hectic and I find my thoughts racing, I try to stop and thank the world for turning.Paola Merrill
It is important to think more often about ordinary things in life. As a child, when we still had to discover everything, everything was special. As we get older and busier, we forget how special those so-called ordinary things still are. So take a step back every now and then, observe the here and now, be grateful for that, and bring some peace back into your head. This helps you to be productive again later on.
Consider the passions you had as a child. Maybe it was art, music, athletics, building things, reading, baking, or dance. I encourage you to consider revisiting a lost passion for a day, even if it’s as simple as finger painting, baking cupcakes, or running barefoot. Give yourself permission to partake in it without self-judgment.Paola Merrill
I already said it above: in the past, we could enjoy being a child and childish. Normal things were special and we could lose ourselves for hours in crafting, drawing, building huts, and climbing trees. Try to make time for that every now and then. Get that paint and brush from the attic again and be creative. Go to the forest and build a hut of loose branches, without embarrassment to others, just because you can. Bringing back your creative child will probably help you to be creative in your productive process. It is a win-win.
While you cannot control the future, you can have control over how you respond to events.Paola Merrill
When we are very busy and we have important deadlines ahead of us, as humans we often tend to go into survival mode, only looking at what is ahead, forgetting that there is also a here and now. I myself have a history of some severe burn-outs, caused by leaving survival mode on for too long. You can keep up that mode for a while, but at a certain point, you have reached the limit of your physical and mental possibilities and abilities. I have now learned that some things are not important enough to be at the expense of my health. So I pay close attention to what’s important and what’s not, and how I respond to other people’s expectations. How I react and handle things these days is considered and balanced with who I want to be.
Most importantly, these elements remind me not to let the quest for efficiency and productivity rule my life. The practice of carefully utilizing your time is no doubt a virtue that can help improve your life—however, I think the definition of productivity should be expanded. Take time to laugh, invest in a relationship, give, sleep, and take care of your mind.Paola Merrill
I personally find the concept of productivity and striving to continuously increase your productivity by understanding concepts and using tools extremely interesting. Great to research and also nice to be able to share my experiences with others. But life is not just about being purely productive, effective, and efficient, but also about having an eye for all those aspects that, without you perhaps realizing it, also indirectly add value to your productive life. Taking better care of yourself and others gives mental and subsequently also physical energy. A shortage of energy reduces your productivity, so the other way around is also true. As Paoloa says, if we want to properly describe productivity, the definition should also include normal life concepts such as relationships, friendships, enjoyment, laughter, rest, and so on.
I believe that I do not have too much time, nor too little. My life is exactly as long as it will be, and if I live it well, the number of days I have will not matter so much.Paola Merrill
Sometimes it is good not to always be busy planning and looking ahead, but to live in the now and not look beyond that. How much do we consciously experience nowadays? How often do we really live in the moment, without letting our thoughts be disturbed by worries, thoughts about the future, but also external stimuli, such as the notifications on our devices? I love to do apps and other productivity applications and planning tools, but how wonderful can it be to ignore all that for a while and realize that you are alive today? Tomorrow there will be enough time to be productive again, and perhaps more productive than ever because of this mindset. Don’t always make time too important.
These days, I try to let my free time feel as fluid as possible. Maybe I don’t have to be productive all the time. I allow myself time to “waste” time in the best way possible. Sitting in the sun, playing with my dog by the river. Enjoying quality time with a loved one. My lifespan, especially my work life, will always be deeply dictated by a clock. But not every moment needs to be that way. The time I get for myself, I try not to plan. I allow myself to simply be and forget the meaning of hours for a while.Paola Merrill
This a clear message on the basis of which I have decided to pay serious attention to this. Personally, I catch myself every day that even when I take my daily nice walk, I always think about which article I can write next time, what I have to do for writing my next book, and how I can solve my coding problem for my work to solve, and so on. How often does it happen that at the end of my walk, I don’t actually know where I walked and what I could have seen along the way. Paola says it beautifully here: “I allow myself to simply be and forget the meaning of hours for a while.”. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do from now on and what I advise everyone to pay a bit more attention to. Enjoy the moment every now and then and try to be mindful and intentionally enjoy your free time for better health and balance.
I embrace the idea that our body and mind need to “overwinter” and hibernate as necessary, healing from within to confront the new year (or a new era in your life) with fresh enthusiasm.Paola Merrill
We all know that regularly taking time to rest is good for us. And we all know as productive beings that we often don’t give rest the priority it really deserves. In the past, I barely gave myself room for the needed hibernation, power nap, time to meditate, or just some time to look out of the window and observe. But I have now personally experienced that without rest your productivity decreases and with rest your productivity increases again.
If I could describe living simply in one phrase it would be “elevating the ordinary.” It is the practice of transforming our daily experiences and finding meaning, purpose, and beauty in everything we do. We are allowed to take occasional breaks from the more stressful aspects of life to breathe deeply and exist differently for a while.Paola Merrill
As productive beings, we tend to identify more with what we do than with who we really are. I have that tendency too. I’m proud of the things I’ve done, like writing and publishing my first book, so I call myself an author. But the more we achieve, the more we ask of ourselves, while we risk missing everything normal around us. Don’t just focus on being productive all the time, but also take a step back to look at everything ordinary in and around us, find the value and beauty in it, and actually enjoy it without thinking all the time of everything we still have to do in our stressful lives.
As I mentioned earlier in this book review, this book “The Cottage Fairy Companion” may not, at first sight, be the most logical choice for a website about productivity, productivity tools, methods, etc. But for me, productivity is also about the right balance between work and pleasure, between running and resting, and between productive thoughts and enjoying the moment. The book “The Cottage Fairy Companion” by Paola Merrill, but also her stories on her Youtube channel, regularly bring me the necessary peace, or at least the necessary awareness to find that peace.