Something has shifted within the past couple years. I remember the days where I could sit down, zero in, and knock out any task, assignment, or project that needed to be completed. It’s been extremely tough, here lately, and I can’t put my finger on the “why” of it all.
Back in high school, I was programmed to sit down, read, write, spit out a 10-15 page paper on whatever topic in advanced placement classes, memorize sheets of music, and I did it all with minimal effort and ease. Even working through college and getting my BA was a breeze on the schedule, task and to-do front, so what’s changed?
Trying to do even a fraction of the things I just mentioned, today, as a thirty-three year old man, has been quite the battle. I’m currently in a job that doesn’t demand a ton of my time and I love it. I’m also studying to get my realtor license. Oh, and there’s the podcast, Thanks for Coming, which has been such a cool side project to throw into the mix.
Needless to say, I’m busy, but I’m not that busy, right? As individuals, we are our harshest critic, and I fully believe this has been part of the problem in the motivation department; knowing inside I can be doing more.
Distraction has been ruling my productivity, or lack thereof, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Some of the distractions have been welcome, while others have been far from it, but that’s life! You have to push forward.
Now that I’ve had time to get settled after moving into our new home, I’ve had time to try some things to better help me accomplish my daily and weekly goals and lists. Some days I’m successful, while other days I’m not. Here are some things I’ve been trying out to hop back on the productivity wagon:
Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. I’ve learned that I can plan, and plan, and plan some more, but all the planning isn’t worth it, if you aren’t doing your best to follow through. My favorite tool to use is Google Calendar. It gives you the ability to color code – which I love – and set reminders and notifications.
There are plenty of other tools that serve the same purpose, but I’m a Google fangirl, and I’ve had the best organizing experience keeping it simple with Google. Create a calendar for work, the gym, whatever, but make sure you commit to the window you’ve set for productivity.
If you’re scheduled to sit and write at 1 o’clock, sit down at 1 o’clock and do your best to write. Even if at the end of your scheduled productivity window you’ve created or written zip, at least you showed up to your appointment. Take baby steps. Looking at a to-do list can be intimidating, so it’s also very important to set attainable goals.
Put the phone down. Whoever is texting can wait. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can wait. Technology has really killed our attention spans. I have days where I get settled into my work mode and mindset, only to have Instagram steal a good ten to fifteen minutes from my scheduled productivity window. This is not okay. That time adds up if you keep playing on your devices! You can get back to scrolling once you’ve accomplished the task at hand. Put the phone down, back away slowly, and get to work.
Set attainable goals. It’s too easy to fill a calendar and to keep saying “yes,” but it’s of the utmost importance that you don’t set yourself up for failure. If you don’t have the time, don’t force it into existence. This will only cause more stress and frustration. Work is work, children are children, and life is going to life! Tend to the needs, and don’t punish yourself if you don’t get to the planned task. Attainability is key here. We can push ourselves to the brink, but at what cost? Be kind to yourself and do your best each day.
I hope these few pointers will help you and I look forward to hearing in the comments if you’ve tried any of them. I’m no master by any means of productivity, but I’m learning not to beat myself up about it. In the past, I’ve been super hard on myself because I’ve let a project sit and collect dust. Don’t do that. Remember to be kind to yourself and protect your mental health for productivity’s sake AND yours.