In yesterday’s post, I shared how abuse and its side effects (anxiety/depression/PTSD) partnered with my inner perfectionist to make motivation and productivity a monumental challenge on a regular basis. Today I’m going to share some of the things that help me get past these roadblocks.
Some of these tips/tricks were shared with me by others (primarily my sister) and some I discovered for myself. I have tried them all.
*I am not going to share the typical “listen to upbeat music, check things off your list” type of suggestions because that info is pretty common already.
- My desk is for work.
This is one my sister recommended. I sit at my desk to work, write, and do my devos. I do not eat, play games, or read for fun at my desk. It is my workspace and it helps me focus on work when I am there. Other than my devos and work-related phone calls, I try not to do work things elsewhere in the apartment unless it’s necessary. I recently purchased an actual desk chair because taking care of my back is an investment in my future and a metal folding chair was causing significant back pain.
- I dress in workout clothes as soon as I get up.
This is one I discovered for myself. My sister recommended dressing in “work” clothes even though I work from home because it also helps maintain that “this is my work space” productivity situation. However, I know that if I have to change into workout clothes when it’s time to workout, I’m a lot less likely to get a workout in that day. Also, we do not have washer/dryer in unit, so I have to take my clothes to a laundry mat. I don’t want to dirty workout clothes unless I’m going to workout. Double whammy.
- My “planner” is a basic notebook, not a fancy pre-made or customized organizational tool.
I discovered this too. Many of my friends use fancy planners, whether they create them themselves or purchase them pre-made or customized, and it works great for them. I’ve tried fancy planners – I even used birthday money to get an expensive, customized planner one year – but they don’t work for me. My inner perfectionist wants it to all be perfect and pretty and I either spend way too much time on the planning stage or I don’t use it at all for fear of messing it up. However, it’s okay for me to mess up a notebook that I got for a couple bucks from Walmart. It might sound silly if your brain doesn’t work the way mine does, but I’ve learned that what works, works. I save time by working with my brain instead of trying to change it.
- Prioritize and offer myself grace.
When my brain says something has to be done right now, it is usually lying to me. This is because I often feel that everything has to be done right now, and that’s not usually the case. I have had to learn to decide what genuinely needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow, or next week, or…never. I often spend the most time with my planner at the beginning of the week because of how my brain processes things. I know that I will be able to be at peace with waiting until tomorrow (or next week, etc.) if I have it on my to do list for whichever day I decide it needs to be done.
The second part to this is offering myself grace. If something does not get done for a legitimate reason, beating myself up for it is not going to solve anything. I have learned to write an “M” (for “Move”) in the box next to the task and then add it to my checklist on the next available day. It has taken me months to get this process figured out for myself, so if you try it and the guilt doesn’t go away immediately, it’s okay.
- Keep tips/tricks that work and get rid of the ones that don’t.
We are not all created the same. If a tip or trick that someone else shares does not work for you, there is no shame in that. If you’re not a planner person, that’s okay. You can find other ways to be organized. If you have sensory issues and comfy pajamas are your best option for clothing during the work day, have a certain pair (or pairs) that are only for work. What works for me may not work for you, but that doesn’t mean that either of us are wrong.
- Tell the guilt to take a hike and don’t let it stay when it tries to come back.
Let’s be honest here – some measure of guilt is good. It’s what keeps us doing what’s right and convinces us to make amends when we do something wrong. However, unnecessary guilt is nothing more than a life sentence in an isolated prison cell.
You don’t have to let guilt stay. It’s difficult to get rid of and it may take a lot of work to keep it away, but you can do it. The Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive. Sometimes the best way to do that is to fill your mind with other things – good, healthy things – until there is no room left for guilt.
Train your brain. When guilt shows up again, think about something else. Easily distracted? Continue actively thinking about other things. It’s exhausting and overwhelming at first, but eventually it’s habit. You can do it. I believe in you. And although it may not feel like it in the beginning, it’s worth the fight.
I have discovered that taming my inner perfectionist is nothing more than figuring out to work with her rather than against her, as well as reframing my thinking.
The tips above mostly have to do with working with my inner perfectionist. When it comes to reframing my thinking, it’s about reminding myself of a few things:
- My feelings are valid but not always accurate.
- Doing the thing – whether cleaning, writing, or something else entirely – is not about getting it perfect, but getting it done. Figuring out if it’s the type of project to give 110% (which is not technically possible, but you know what I mean) or doing the bare minimum. Believe it or not, it really is okay to do the bare minimum on certain tasks. For example, when I work on my novel, I focus on getting words on the page. I can edit later. I can send it to my readers and get their advice. Many times, something is much better than nothing.
- Accepting that I have only so much energy/time in one day and that this is the same for everyone. Their limits may be different than mine, but they have limits too. Wasting time on guilt (as mentioned above) does not make me more productive. If anything, it causes me to get less done.
These are the main tips/tricks that work for me personally. Find what works for you.
What tips/tricks help you with productivity and motivation?