If you ever find yourself wanting to be productive but struggling to get things done, here’s a simple solution.
Get the materials you need, go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, start and don’t stop until the task is complete.
Being productive isn’t as complicated as we often make it.
Of course if you’re sitting with your fave show on and your phone at your side the task you’re working in will take much longer than it needs to. You have to allow your mind to focus.
Once you take away the distractions, you might start off slow but you’ll build up momentum and find yourself working much more efficiently.
I believe that a new way of working requires a new routine. Up until the past couple of months most people that worked 9-5 office jobs spent most of their days in the office. However, that has now changed we are (pretty much) all working from home.
One of the things that many have overlooked is implementing a routine for working at home. Most of us have a particular routine for days in the office, whether it’s the time we get up in the morning, preparations we do the night before, the time we start working and the time we log off.
You need that sort of routine for working at home too. It doesn’t need to be exactly the same, but you can’t expect to work at home the same way you do in the office if your day has no sense of structure.
Something as simple as starting and ending your day at the same time each day can work wonders.
It may not seem important to implement this and maybe you want home to be more fluid and free. However, it turns out that without some structure to your day you’ll be more likely to work longer hours and you’ll probably be much less productive.
For a lot of people they will have reached a point where they have realised working from home just isn’t the same as being in the office.
Because it isn’t.
You might find yourself less focused, less productive and more distracted, especially if you live with other people.
And so it might be helpful to find ways to replicate how you feel at work in your home.
A few ideas are:
Create a suitable working space – Even if it’s just setting up at the dining table each day. Working from the sofa or your bed isn’t a suitable environment because they’re unlikely to places that you associate with work. Also it’s helpful to create some separation so that when you log off for the day you can move to the sofa to relax or tuck yourself into bed and read.
Get dressed – Not into your work clothes but wear something presentable instead if staying in your pyjamas or wearing a worn out pair of joggers.
Follow your usual routine – Whether that’s starting your day with a cup of tea at your desk, a mid morning snack, going through your inbox for the first 30 minutes of the day, having lunch at 1.30pm, whatever it may be.
Some things are meant to happen but that doesn’t mean they’ll be easy or that they won’t make us sad.
But we often have a way of making these things worse.
We often think that ‘bad’ things or inconvenient things aren’t supposed to happen instead of just acknowledging that they’re apart of life.
Things like heartache, rejection, stress or challenges in life.
I’ve learnt that these situations often end up so much worse because of how we react towards them.
For example you don’t get the job you wanted and you react by thinking that there must be something wrong with you, that it’s hopeless, that you’ll never find a job.
But in reality every human that has ever lived has experienced rejection at some point. People get rejected from jobs all the time because when 10 people are interviewed for one vacancy there can only be one winner.
A good tip is to train yourself to acknowledge these things as a part of life and have a plan for how to manage them. So, maybe the next time you get or feel rejected you can just take it for what it is instead of internalising it.
Or perhaps the title should read ‘How to be eternally disappointed‘.
I don’t believe in working yourself to the bone (well it’s not for me anyway) however if your expectations are sky high, you might have to.
You can’t sit around passively going through life like a sociological ritualist and expecting the world.
You’ll only end up disappointed.
You can’t be half-hearted either.
You gotta go, go, go with full gusto.
But to avoid burnout you have to be smart about your approach and find ways to be productive and get things done whilst maintaining your overall well-being.
A few ideas are to have set working times, get at least 7 hours sleep a night and make time to do something relaxing like meditate, get a massage, or go for a walk.
You might feel frustrated but all is not lost.
In a previous post I wrote about job satisfaction and I thought it might be useful to delve into some practical tips. It’s all good and well telling someone what to do but it’s sometimes helpful to tell them how.
So, let’s say you work in an office and your manager is not much help with anything that you need help with. It could be about the work you do or maybe even career progression etc.
What do you do?
It probably gets frustrating but it’s always useful to remember that you always have options.
First up, ask for what you want/need?
Ask confidently, ask a second time.
Don’t be afraid to call people out (politely) when they don’t follow through after assuring you that they’d do xyz.
If you feel like it’s not working, ask someone else.
Chances are even though a manager is their as a main point of call, there’ll be someone else that can help you and someone else that will.
Lastly don’t expect too much from people.
Yes, ask for help when you need it but don’t be reliant on others to drive your ship, they have their own stuff to do too.
Shortcuts might be enticing but you can’t escape doing the work.
Write more than a post a day
You’ll have days when its easier to write so take advantage. I’ve had days where I’ve written a weeks worth of posts which is a stark contrast to the days where writing a single post feels as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree.
Dedicate a set time in your day to write
If you make it part of your routine it’ll find it’s way into your subconscious and then you’re set. My writing time is the journey to and from work. It’s around 90 minutes daily and I find it easier to use that time than make time before or after work to write. Granted I can and often do write at other times in the day but never as consistent as I do on my journey to and from work.
Don’t aim for perfection
You have to put more importance on having something to publish instead of it being perfect. I often refer to this blog as a writing practice because that’s what it is a place for me to practice writing. It isn’t a place for me to be perfect. I understand that perfection is a falsehood. Focusing on trying to make every piece perfect is a waste of time when you can just write something better tomorrow.
That’s all you need to successfully daily blog. There’s no trick to it. Sure, it might he hard to come up with ideas sometimes but the more you do it the easier it gets.
Been there done that, felt awful.
So, these are three little things that work for me because sometimes I need to remind myself that putting things off will never be helpful.
Beginning as soon as possible gives you the most amount of time to work on your thing. I’ve found that it’s often when I leave things until the last minute I don’t have time to work through the challenging bit which shows up as things being too difficult when maybe what I needed was more time.
So I’m a planner. I find that it helps me feel less overwhelmed and gives me the structure I need. Otherwise I get caught up in my thoughts and nothing gets done. It also makes things easier for when you’re doing the work and leaves less room for distraction.
A recent lesson I’ve learnt. If you’ve started and made some plans but are still finding things difficult or maybe if it’s just stressful, talking helps . You might not think it’s true but you might be surprised. Voicing how you feel can be freeing and also depending on who you speak to you might get some helpful advice or a fresh perspective.
What works for you?
A simple but useful exercise
Get a piece of paper and split it in 2 (or create a word document or excel spreadsheet). On one side write all your problems, the big, small and in-between.
Then the other side come up with a solution to each one.
In my experience, I’ve found that this lowers the feeling of overwhelm because once your problem has a solution it’s no longer such a big deal.
The problem could be that you’ve been feeling really tired lately. The solution to that could be getting more sleep by going to bed earlier or eating more nourishing food so that you have more energy throughout the day.
Or perhaps you don’t have enough time to work on your side projects. The solution could be to commit to setting 1hr aside every day. And to cut out or reduce other things that are taking up your time that aren’t important like Netflix.
Once you’re done you’ll have an action plan in front of you and if those problems are really bothering you’ll do something about it.
A tool I use to sort of re-calibrate so that my intentions are focused on a specific thing.
When I was looking for a job in the past I did daily mantras for at least a month then I ended up getting 3 job offers within the space of a few weeks.
I get that some people don’t believe in the power of mantras but I’m not saying it’s a magic fix. It’s more a case of what you focus on grows, it sort of becomes in sociological terms a self fulfilling prophecy. I’m a big believer that if you don’t think it’ll work then it probably won’t.
And if you don’t trust me trust Henry Ford who said ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.’
It’s been life changing for me because the things I’ve declared have come to pass. I try and focusing on bringing more of the good stuff in and letting the stuff no longer serving me fall away and mantras help with that.