I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I have free time and a to-do list, I struggle with a case of “lots to do so I’ll do nothing.” *eyeroll* Sometimes when I’m chatting with a friend or my partner and they ask what I did that day, I’m embarrassed to admit that I accomplished nothing, even though I had a wide open schedule. Anyone with me?
Its not that I lack motivation, its actually that I get so overwhelmed with the choices, that I decide not to decide. I know, it makes no sense. But the struggle is real.
I know there’s some underlying fear that I’ll choose the wrong thing and waste my time with something that will turn out to be…well, a waste of time. But, stay with me, I think I’ve found a few things that have helped me tackle my to-do list, and I wonder if they’ll help you too.
So here’s 5 ways to be productive on those days where you just can’t decide.
1. Make a list
I am a SUPER list person. I love the lined sticky notes because they’re so convenient for list making. There are lists stuck to my computer, my mirror, several books, my fridge…it could go on. But because my brain is like a thought super-highway, I often find myself overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of thoughts I have.
So, I make lists. I often tell my therapy clients, “Paper doesn’t forget.” Once I have it written down, I can relax a little more because the paper will remember for me. I no longer have to spend the mental energy it takes to juggle all those plates. *praise hands* So get you a pack of lined stickies and list away, girlfriend.
2. Use a timer
This one was a bit harder for me to make a habit because I simply thought it was silly. Ha! Now I see the error of my ways. I highly recommend using the Pomodoro method (there are TONS of apps to implement this). Basically, you set a timer for 25 mins, focus on one to-do for that time frame, and then you get a 5 minute break! Repeat for a total of 4 times (4 25-minute work sessions) and then take a 15-30 minute break.
So basically, you’re working for two hours with a few 5 minute breaks and then you get a 30 minute break! I love this method because it has a set time frame. Sometimes I can get overwhelmed (seeing a theme here…) when I have an ambiguous work set up…sort of like before…too many decisions. So having set time blocks allows me to focus on one to-do at a time and if I get bored or need a change, I can switch it up after my 5 minute break.
3. Maintain an inspiring space
This one is big for me. I often find that my physical/external space greatly affects my mental/internal space. Do you feel this? Like if I have a lot of clutter, then I feel cluttered. So I find that being my most productive self means I may have to tidy up a bit. So, using the Pomodoro method, I will clean up my kitchen and living room. Ahhh, the sound of the dishwasher running and the dryer going. Brings me peace. 🙂
But truly, I’ve done a bit of research on this. There’s actually proof out there that the status of our environments greatly affect the way we feel. So tidy up that space, friend. It will help you get more done!
4. Make space for all activity
I’m sure we can all agree that most of the time, laundry, bills, cleaning, and everyday errands aren’t the things that bring the spice of life. I mean, I love the smell of fresh sheets and the feeling of a clean house, but…those things don’t scream vacation. Ha!
Its very important to give yourself balance. I know it seems counterproductive to take a break from your to-do list to do something fun, but its necessary. Ever heard of burn-out? That’s exactly what happens when we spend and don’t invest. You can’t pull from an empty well, right? Well, in the everyday, this is still true. So taking the Pomodoro method as a guide, try to take some time to do a fun or enjoyable activity once every four days. This should fill you up so you can keep tackling that hustle-life.
5. Ask for help
*cringe* Did anyone else feel that? Ugh, asking for help is super hard for us go-getter, independent types. But we can’t do it all. Even when we want to. Even when it seems like we need to. We can’t. And that is not a weakness, dear, that is just how things are. We have limits, and there are only so many minutes in a day.
So, what do we do? We ask for help. This could look like asking a partner or room mate to take over on a task we usually are responsible for (ahem, cleaning the bathroom, thankyouverymuch). Or even helping us to do a task, like double duty on grocery shopping. (Think supermarket sweep…where you’re getting stuff down one aisle and they’re getting stuff on another!) This could look like asking your boss for an extension on a deadline, taking a vacation day, or even collaborating with your team rather than going solo. Anything you can find to help lessen the load of that to-do list, try it!
I hope these 5 tips were helpful for you! If you really truly try them, I think you’ll find a little extra margin in your busy life. Tell me, what are some ways you get stuff done that I didn’t list here??