You’re here because you’re procrastinating.
You saw the headline and thought this is the perfect distraction to further prevent you from checking things off your to do list because like most people, you just don’t know where to start. And if you’re lucky there will be some wise and golden nugget hidden away in these paragraphs that will unlock the secret to no longer typing ‘how to be more productive’ into Google when in reality the only real solution to increasing productivity is to “DO YOUR DAMN WORK!”
It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
I could sit here and explain the benefits of time blocking and the science behind cutting your to-do list in half by prioritizing and delegating but even those things are work when it comes down to it. Anyone else here write something on their to-do list that has already been done but you just need the validation of crossing off a line item to feign some sense of accomplishment? I know I can’t be the only one. And who else spends entire afternoons tweaking their calendar so they have time to get some real shit done when in reality you could’ve just gotten the real shit done and left your calendar alone?
You’re now slowly closing your laptop and backing away because you’ve just been seen. Am I right?
In a recent episode of the Women Your Mother Warned You About I was talking about the tactics I use to get my mind right so I can tackle the day, or days, ahead and casually called it ‘operationalizing’. I have never heard it used before so I’m going to sit here proudly claiming that I made it up (copyright pending). See, there is beauty in speaking before you think sometimes.
What does ‘operationalizing’ look like exactly? Kind of sounds like something that came about during the Industrial Revolution and can be found amongst the pages of an OSHA safety manual.
Operationalizing is establishing your optimal mindset. And now you’re thinking ‘Gina, they call that meditation and people have been doing it for thousands of years’ but just hear me out.
The 4 easiest ways to OPERATIONALIZE YOUR DAY:
The world is a noisy place. Especially if you live on the beach in the throes of tourist season. Everyone is louder in the summer, I blame the heat. Nothing makes me more aggressive than the feeling that I’m going to cook inside my own skin. And if you’re in sales your day is consumed with conversation. (Pro tip – if you aren’t engaged in dialogue a majority of your day you’re doing it wrong). So to correct this, I now drive in complete silence. It just kind of happened one day in the face of sensory overwhelm and when I arrived at my destination I felt oddly recharged and ready to rally. I used to be under the impression that I had to utilize every moment of every day so I would take phone calls during my commute, listen to educational audio books to up my game and dare I say it, even send the occasional text. I know, I know. Silence allows your mind to rest and recover without distraction. It has also been shown to boost creativity because you’re not thwarting off information and agendas.
This one is simply – stealing from Beauty and the Beast here – ‘a tale as old as time.’ Reframe your objectives for the day – instead of sitting down at your desk and muttering ‘I have to’s’ try prefixing your to do list with ‘I get to’s’. It sounds lame but semantics matter and will have a profound effect on your day. Just like mean thoughts about yourself will result in anxiety and depression, phrasing things in a manner of obligation will elicit feelings of dread whereas ‘I get to’ frames your checklist as a privilege. Think it’s bullshit? Try it for a day and let me know how you feel by the end of the day. Probably a little like a cross between Willy Wonka and Charlie Brown but that’s a helluva lot better than laying your head on your pillow at night having accomplished nothing while muttering to yourself ‘better get Mr. Owl, Pooh got his hand stuck in the honey jar again.’ Eeyore, I’m talking about Eeyore.
Setting Achievable Goals
No one who woke up in the morning and said ‘today is the day where I accomplish it all!’ ever went to bed actually feeling accomplished. You go to bed feeling like a failure because you didn’t get it all done when in reality you made serious headway but are so clouded by self deprecation that you can’t see the forest through the trees. Been meaning to write that blog post? Have you been putting off a simple phone call to a disgruntled client? Or you should’ve gotten to the grocery store the last three days and now you’re down to a box of baking soda and an almost empty carton of milk whose freshness is questionable. Do the thing you’ve been putting off – you know, the thing you’re spending more energy avoiding then it would take to actually do.
If you took a moment to examine why you procrastinate or at the very least have less than optimal productivity at some point you’re going to notice the voices in your head. Even the most sane of us have voices. This is where journaling comes in handy. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be all ‘dear diary’, but rather a dumping ground for all the thoughts running through your mind that are clouding the thoughts you need to actually get things done. Take a few minutes during the day to scribble down all the useless chatter.
Use any of these with smashing success? I want to hear about it!
Use any of these and think “I’m pretty sure I’m doing this wrong”? I want to hear about that too!