If you are wondering how you can stop feeling unproductive and guilty for not getting more done each day, these 6 tips are for you!
You probably naturally have a lot of ideas. When you first come up with an idea you feel this rush of adrenaline and excitement about it! Then as time passes, doubt starts to creep in. You might start to wonder how you are going to execute it. Maybe you start putting a plan into action and you hit a roadblock. Then you want to give up because it gets hard. Or maybe you tell a few people about it and they crush it before it ever had a chance to come to life. That is how we all start right? With just one idea...a spark that breathes life into us.
Let's say you made it over all of those initial obstacles. As time passes, we put some systems in place to be able to keep going, we have pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones! We feel like we are really winning! Things that used to make us uncomfortable become comfortable and we aren't quite sure where to go from here. We can't really put a word to what we are feeling - is it bored?
The initial adrenaline rush, the spark, has gone and we don't really feel like we are growing anymore. Does that make us unsuccessful? We get restless and start looking for things to change - do we change our branding? Do we look to redesign our website?
What we are looking to "fix" is not really broken though! Your website is great! Your branding has gotten you this far! What you are looking for is to be pushed outside of your comfort zone again. The problem is you aren't sure where to go from here. You are on an unpaved path and there is nobody there to tell you which way to go. You feel stuck.
Does this sound like you?
I have been there too! It is so frustrating when you know that you are capable of so much and you are having trouble taking action.
HERE IS WHAT I DID TO GO FROM "THERE AREN'T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY"
TO "I AM CRUSHING MY GOALS!":
1. DITCH THE NEVER-ENDING TO DO LIST.
When you make a list, you usually keep adding to it right? So you never feel like you have gotten anything accomplished because you keep going back to the same list and it never ends. Even if you got 10 things done that day you are still focusing on the things you didn’t get done and it makes you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.
They say you should only focus on ONE big goal each day and that multitasking decreases productivity. As high achievers, I have to say that we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with only accomplishing one thing each day so I prefer to have three goals for each day. Here is how I break it down:
· The first goal I set is something difficult or time-consuming. This is usually something I have been avoiding or something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. It is something that I really do not want to do, but it is usually something that is going to have a return on my time investment if I just do it.
· The second goal I set is something easy. This is something that I know is going to take me less than an hour to complete. After I do the difficult thing, I need a quick win. This quick win pushes us over the halfway point in our to-do lists and tricks our minds into getting that “second wind” or burst of energy because we are almost done with everything we set out to do! [Yay!]
· The third goal is something FUN! It is the reason why I created my business in the first place, it is something I really enjoy doing and maybe even my absolute favorite part of being an entrepreneur. Remember when you first started and there was that one thing you did that really set your soul on fire? Or maybe your new and this is the thing you could spend hours and hours doing. This is like a reward! The faster you get the first two things crossed off your to do list, the more time you get to spend on this last goal.
Why do I break it down like this?
Have you ever ran a marathon? Ok, me neither - but I can only imagine what it would be like. Here is how I envision it going: The first mile is energizing! You feel the wind on your face, you feel on top of the world, you have been pacing yourself and everything is going smoothly just like you planned. About 5 miles in you start to feel the burn a little bit, but you are still on that high of running a marathon and crossing something off of your bucket list.
Then you get about ¾ of the way through the race and you want to die! Your legs might fall off. You are miserable. You are hangry. You are tired. You want to give up, but you know you didn’t come this far to only come this far. You stop looking for the finish line because it will drive you crazy, and you focus only on putting one foot in front of the other and taking that next step. You know the finish line is there somewhere and if you just keep moving eventually you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Nobody gets a medal for stopping before they reach the finish line so if you quit now you have just wasted all of the effort that you have put into the part of the race that you have already completed. Then, you get to the finish line and you want to collapse but you are happy! You finished something you had started and when it got difficult you didn’t give up! Go you!
2. TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA NOTIFICATIONS.
There is no such thing as a Facebook emergency (or an Instagram emergency, or any social media emergency). If you do not respond to every comment or know how many likes you have or track how many new followers you just got, you are going to be okay. In fact, checking those things 24/7 will make you really anxious and distract you from other important things you should be doing for your business.
3. SET "OFFICE HOURS" WHERE YOU HAVE ZERO DISTRACTIONS.
If you know that you have certain hours of the day where you have “downtime” or fewer distractions, set your office hours during that time. For example, I have women in my online community who are momtrepreneurs and they schedule their super productive time when their children are napping. It is important to recognize when you have more distractions or more obligations and to not try to be productive during those hours. Plus, blocking out time to work will actually make you more productive!
It is easier to do things fast than it is to things slowly. Remember the last time you had all weekend to clean your house and you find yourself sitting down on Sunday evening wondering where all of your time went and how you haven’t done one thing to tidy up around your house? However, if someone calls you on a weeknight and says they will be over in an hour suddenly you can clean your entire house and make it look like nobody lives there in 45 minutes. It is easier to do things when you give yourself a time limit or a deadline whether you are a procrastinator or not.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW LONG TASKS NORMALLY TAKE YOU SO YOU CAN SCHEDULE THEM APPROPRIATELY IN THE FUTURE.
It is bound to happen sooner or later - you are going to try something new and it is going to take you twice as long as you thought it would. Sometimes you run into some technical difficulties or you find that you thought it was going to be simple and you end up getting sucked into a Google search trying to teach yourself something you have never heard of before. You live and you learn. Forgive yourself for not knowing and don’t be hard on yourself for being less productive than you thought you would be. This is all a part of the process!
Do you remember the first time you did laundry? You had no idea how long it was going to take if the washing machine didn’t have a timer on it. You probably also shrank a few shirts, lost some socks, and maybe even forgot to check your pockets and had a pen explode all over everything. Over time you learned how to multitask in between loads of laundry or found a nice wash and fold to drop things off at for someone else to do it, but my point is you learned how to do it more efficiently with time. Plus, you learned not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
5. DO SOMETHING NON-WORK RELATED WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING.
Who needs to be called out for grabbing their phone first thing in the morning because it doubles as your alarm clock and then you spend the next 2 hours working from bed answering emails and checking social media? Try to start a new morning routine! Get out of bed, open the curtains, let the sunshine in, drink your water with lemon, meditate, practice gratitude, whatever it is that you want to do that is not related to your business - do that for at least 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Be present. Your e-mails can wait 10 minutes and it will help you wake up on the “right” side of the bed.
6. TAKE BREAKS.
It is so important to get away from your desk, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you work from home, maybe you just need to walk around the block every once in a while or schedule some in-person meetings instead of always meeting on the phone so that you are getting out of your home at least once a day. Sometimes as creatives we get on a role and we don’t want to stop what we are doing, but if it gets to the point where your “role” has lasted 3 days and you don’t remember what day of the week it is then it might be time to get out and take a break.
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