"I promise, I promise, I reeeeally promise I'll get it done this time... as soon as I finish watching the 3rd season of Gossip Girl for the hundredth time."
Yup, this sounds just familiar, doesn't it? You keep telling yourself you'll get stuff done and before you know it it's already 12:23 am. You are fighting increasingly heavy eyelids during this random show you just found on Netflix and now you can't live without, ahem, Dance Academy.
As a millennial, growing up in the 'information overload' generation, I've realized that in order to give my undivided attention to something, I have to block everything else from my mind at that moment. As simple as it sounds, it is incredibly hard to do this when there's so much floating around trying to call my attention. In the end, I feel overwhelmed and tend to not to do anything at all.
How do I even accomplish anything in my life then? These few following hacks will show you how.
1. If you know it will take cleaning it all, just go ahead and do it.
There's a recording of an Ellen DeGeneres stand-up show where she talks about procrastinating and how she found it was necessary to reorganize her CD collection right before tackling a task. I don't think you should go to that extreme, but I do think a clean space is an inviting space to work in.
Make sure that if you are going to take on cleaning, you should set specific goals and a timeframe to do it - otherwise you'll end up moving appliances and disinfecting your keyboard with a toothbrush for eight hours straight.
Make a list of 5 important things you need to do: such as cleaning your desk, moving all the clutter into a box (absolutely NO need to organize it right now!), making your bed, etc. Once you list all 5 essential things you need to start working, make sure that the place where you are working has enough sunlight. Move your desk close to a window and open up those curtains. The sun will provide you with energy and inspiration for you to do what you need to do.
2. Make a different To-Do list
To-Do lists are great aids when it comes to organization. They play a big role, especially when it comes to getting those undesirable tasks done.
I personally use them during the week and getting to check off items is one of the best feelings ever.
They give you flexibility when it comes to time because, unlike planners, they don't make you stick to a schedule. You control when you do things and what's important is that you get them done!
A better way to take advantage of a To-Do list is by setting priorities. Organize your items by importance or urgency and make sure you don't move to the next item until you complete the one before.
People are wired differently, which means what works for one might not work for someone else. However, this hack is very helpful. My point is that the way you tackle your tasks will depend entirely on what works for you.
If you are the kind of person that needs to do the hardest thing first so that you can do the rest easily, prioritize your list that way. If you are the kind of person, however, that needs to work on all the little things first to get rolling, then, by all means, make your list work that way. For example, if I were to tackle my hardest task at first, I would feel like the rest are meaningless after that and I would never get them done. So yes, work according to your brain's internal wiring.
3. Create a routine
Our brains love routines. The more mechanical something is, the easier it is to execute, and the least resistance we will put into doing it.
I know this is not so easy to apply when it comes to tasks that require creativity, innovation or any kind of execution outside our comfort zone. However, there are ways to create a routine around it.
If you start working on your tasks at the same time every day, it will soon start feeling like that's the time you are supposed to be working. If you take a shower right before you start working, you will start feeling like you need to work after each shower.
Create a routine of small activities around your tasks so that your body can prepare in every way for them.
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4. Try some music
As simple as it sounds, music helps big time. Like I said in number 2, we are all wired differently so different things work for each of us.
I would try to work with upbeat music, mostly motivational songs that will tell me how I need to do what I do to get where I want to get. Yes, "you better work, bitch".
Other people might need something really soothing so that the words don't interfere with their thoughts.
Whatever it is that will work for you, is what you should use to keep you on track... get it?
5. Procrastinating can help you not procrastinate
In my final year of architecture school, I was desperate to graduate. I wanted more than anything to put behind me the endless nights of working on a design that would be most likely torn to pieces the next day in class. I wanted to make sure I completed all my credits and didn't have to stay a single extra semester in school.
That semester I took on the hardest, most time-demanding classes I could take, along with doing an internship at a studio and trying to keep up with my romantic relationship.
As you may think, I didn't get to sleep too much but I conquered all those classes with higher grades than I was expecting to get. How did I do it? This is still my biggest hack that I use to this day.
I would start working on my homework from one of my classes, and as soon as I got tired of it, I would delay working on that by taking on homework from a different class. When I felt like I didn't want to work on that anymore, I would think about all the stuff I had to do for my other project and that would get me back in the groove until I finished the task at hand. Once I was done with that, I would repeat that process with the next task, making sure I always had something else I had to work on that I didn't feel like doing yet.
These days, I use the same technique with almost every task I need to do. As long as I know I have something else I should be doing, I can effectively complete that other task without any trouble. For example, right at this moment I know I should be taking a shower and getting ready for bed, yet here I am finishing this blog post!
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. See you next time. 😘