How do you deal with time management and motivation? I always plan my days out based on what I have to get done, but I never accomplish anything because I get distracted or bored! Thanks!
This is an interesting question. When someone has to get something done, I would usually tell them to make a plan, mapping out how to get from point A to point B step by step. But, you, my dear, have the plan but are having a hard time sticking to it.
You say you either get bored or distracted. I wonder, Halli, do you feel connected to what you are doing? Sometimes we have to have the why before the how. Even though my work load seems overwhelming at times, I always endeavor to plow through it because it is the work that I love. Helping people in creative ways is my calling and I get to do it every day through writing this column, making a vlog, and working on my next book.
Now I realize that not everyone gets to spend their days doing exactly what they love. But, I also believe that we all deserve to be working towards that. So what is your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? What dream are you chasing? Do you want to be your own boss, do you want to travel the world, do you want to buy a house and make it your own?
I want you to really spend some time thinking about this and when you have an answer (or a few!), I want you to post reminders of that goal all around your work space. If you are more of a left-brained person, that may just be notes that say “Trip to Spain!” or “Opening my own yoga studio.” If you are more right brained, you might want to make a vision board or pick out an inspiring song to listen to any time you need a boost. The point is, if you keep reminding yourself of the ‘why’, the how will be easier to navigate.
Once you have your dream or, in other words, your motivation in mind, try some of these tricks for how to stay focused and avoid distractions. You say that you plan out your days already. That’s great! Now take that list of tasks and prioritize them. You can do this by urgency, but I suggest doing it by complexity of the task. The reason for this is that our first hour of working is when our brain is firing at all cylinders. The longer we’re at it, the more tired our noggin gets. So, use that magic time to get the most creative task accomplished.
Here’s an example. Let’s say this afternoon I have to shoot out some emails, clean my desk, and write an article. Well, often I am tempted to start with the mindless task first (most likely cleaning my desk) and build up to that hard one! But, unless one of the emails is URGENT, I should really start with the article while my brain is the least tired.
Recognize that even when you get your goals in order and you have your motivation, there will be times (probably a lot more than you’d like) when you just won’t feel like working. This is called resistance and it’s natural and annoying. You just have to recognize it for what it is and push through it. The difference between a professional athlete and an amateur is the former’s ability to work and practice even when they don’t feel like it. Setting timers for yourself and putting your phone on airplane mode can help keep you on track.
Most people overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year. Recognize that you are only human and only have so much energy, focus, and stamina. Be realistic about what you can feasibly accomplish in a day and spread your bigger projects out over weeks or months. If you whittle your todo list down to 3 items for the day rather then the never-ending list that just rolls over and over, you’ll have a much better chance at feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment rather than stress at the end of the day. Then you can rest, rejuvenate and be ready for your 3 items tomorrow.
All in all, be kind to yourself, Halli. Remember that you are more than your todo list, more than the sum of your achievements. You are a very human person who is probably delightful in lots of human ways just trying to figure it all out. The more you can be your own cheerleader rather than your own bully, the closer you’ll get to becoming the woman you want to be.