If there’s one thing I struggle most with, it’s keeping myself productive and motivated. I have four days off of work a week (thank you, nursing!), but I feel like I’m hardly ever productive on those days! Occasionally I have a great day where I feel inspired and get everything on my to-do list done, but those days are honestly few and far between. My excuse to be lazy is always that I already worked by butt off at work and deserve to relax… but my list of responsibilities doesn’t end at work so I’ve been in desperate need of a life makeover. I reached this point where I was so frustrated with myself for my lack of productivity that I couldn’t handle it anymore! I needed to find ways to keep myself inspired and motivated to be productive on my off days. Finally, I committed to looking into research and advice on ways to motivate myself and increase my productivity. Below are the things I’ve found most helpful or me!
Write it down
I like to say I’m a paper list person, but lately I’ve been a no list kind of person haha. I have a planner and when I actually use it, it’s super helpful for me. When I’m in the routine of making lists and being productive, I’m definitely that person that adds things to the list after they’re done just to be able to cross it off. There’s nothing more satisfying that checking an item off the to-do list!
I’ve also started doing something another blogger highly suggests… Brain dumping! I love the idea of just getting everything out of my brain and down on paper. My tendency is to feel like I have to remember everything and hold on to it, and this seriously causes me so much stress. I will literally wake up in the middle of the night thinking about something random that I have to do or I need to remember. The act of simply dumping all that stuff out of my head and writing it down keeps my brain from feeling overwhelmed with too many things to keep track of. This has really been one of the most helpful tools for me.
Set small measurable goals
Hi, my name is Taylor and I get so stressed by looming tasks that I decide (poorly) to avoid them and hope they’ll just disappear. Anyone else in the same boat??
I’ve learned that this is basically the absolute worst way to deal with things haha. It honestly just creates even more stress for me! So much so that I usually can’t sleep and end up with that knotty feeling in my stomach. It’s not the most enjoyable way to exist either ha.
The best thing I’ve found to help me deal with this issue in my life is to set small measurable goals for every day! It’s so much easier to attack a big task when you break it down into much smaller tasks for each day. For example, the idea of planning all of my blog and instagram content for the month is kind of terrifying and intimidating… So I break it down. I take some time to list my current interest, things I’m thinking about/want to talk about, upcoming events/travel, etc. Then I break it down farther and use my list to plan one week at a time! If I sat down and tried to look at the month as a whole and do it all in one sitting, I’d probably cry. But taking time to plan one week at a time makes it so much more attainable.
Follow a routine
Confession time. I’d been telling myself for three years that a routine is impossible for me because of my irregular work schedule.! My routine just looks different than someone who works a 9-5. Or someone who works from home. What I’ve learned to put into practice is the idea of having not one, but two routines! One for work days, and one for days off. It’s undoubtedly been a challenge for me at the beginning because I feel like my default setting is “lazy bum,” but pushing through has been worth it!
I already feel more confident in myself and my ability to accomplish things simply because I’m following a simple routine. Things seem more attainable and much less overwhelming that they did when I let myself sleep in til 8:30 every day and then got up just to watch Friends for another 2 hours before even thinking about being productive. However, I do allow myself a day like that here or there, just to give myself a break. That’s healthy too!
Manage your time
Time management is actually something I’m known for at work! There, my whole purpose is to be effective and be able to balance my time well between all my patients so that everyone is getting the care they need. It’s easy for me to focus at work and keep myself in line. It makes sense.
But then I get home and suddenly I forget what the heck time management is… I procrastinate like nobody’s business and I stop prioritizing things. When I was doing some research, I ran across the Eisenhower Matrix, which is a tool to help with time management and prioritization. It helps you break down your tasks into four different quadrants so you can identify what needs to be done now, later, by someone else, or not at all. What I’d love to do is start making this a weekly thing I do, a long with a good brain dump, so I can keep myself on track with my goals!
I’ve really learned a lot through my research and implementing these different things in my life. The biggest thing is this: I’m more capable than I give myself credit for! The hardest part is buckling down and making the change, but looking back at the progress you’ve made is worth every second of work and effort.