This one’s got nothing to do with books, just FYI.
Towards the end of 2014 I was in a near constant state of stress thanks to trying to juggle a job, a masters degree programme, a youtube channel, and a life. But much to my constant amazement I kept all the plates spinning (to a greater or lesser degree) until the my holiday leave was upon me. But, come the winter break, I was ready for some proper time off – a chance to relax and recharge, to give my poor brain a break and get fresh for the coming year. And I think all those things were true – you can only stay wound to that level of tension for a finite amount of time before you need to let it spring back to relaxation – but my plan was also rather flawed.
What I failed to take into account was that my ability to get things done was somewhat dependent on a set of habits that I also abandoned in my quest for total relaxation. I floated, pretty much brainless and useless for a good couple of weeks, until my calendar forcibly reminded me that I had a host of deadlines looming and I’d done precisely nothing towards them. I stared at the list in a state of general horror for a while before deciding that it was all a bit too stressful and I’d best start by cheering myself up a bit by looking at tumblr for a while.Nine million hours later….
Yeah, I’d kind of forgotten how to be productive and all my bad habits were back. So here’s the list of good habits I’m trying to get back into (mostly because if I don’t I’m going to fail horribly) that are mostly real productivity things that have boring names I hate so I present them to you complete with the names with which I refer to them).
1. The Giant List of Awful Awesomeness – List everything to be done in one giant list of terror and then start processing it into things to be done now (do them now), soon, somewhere else, and sometime/whenever. Keep adding things and crossing them off. If you’re familair with GTD then, well, that.
2. Fucking well start it now – Pick something to be done and just start it. Even if finishing it seems like impossible or overwhelming just pick one aspect or piece of the whole and do it for a little bit. I’m always amazed at how often I’ll just keep going because once you’ve started your brain gets in the zone and suddenly it’s not overwhelming any more. This works for loads of stuff from writing essays to doing exercise (just do five crunches..).
3. Just do 20-fucking minutes that’s like no time at all (AKA: Pavlov’s Human) – Just do whatever it is you’re trying to do for 20 minutes with no getting distracted. Whatever else you’ve gotta do can wait that long. Then you get a tiny treat and a break as a reward. 3×20 = longer break. (It’s basically the Pomodoro method with treats thrown in because I respond well to rewards).
4. Priorities, bitch – Any time I’m about to procrastinate I say: “THIS THING is not a priority in my life” (e.g. ‘I’m not going to write this essay because my education is not a priority.’) And then you gotta ask, is it? Sometimes other things really are more important than working on that essay/article/video right then. But often it just makes me look at whatever I was going to do instead and realise that I’m just procrastinating for no apparent reason. The Oatmeal’s cartoon about running and the Blerch tells this better.
5. What the fuck are you doing with your time? – I use the Passion Planner printable weekly spread to keep track of appointments, goals, and to-dos for my week. But I also try and track what I’m spending my time on. So if I’ve spent 90 minutes messing about aimlessly on social media then I can see that on paper. Eventually it starts scaring your brain into being productive.