Feeling like a failure, day in, day out? Maybe you’re even guilt-free, a self-aware lazy person who is fully accepting of their patterns with productivity … erm, lack thereof. Perhaps you’re dying to focus more, but pounding caffeine is only raising your anxiety levels, not your accomplishments.
Regular, or incredibly proactive, people tell you their tactics, but clearly it’s just in their blood. “Just get up early” or “put a Post-it on your mirror” advice kind of feels like a f*ck you. We aren’t going to rewire our brains, so we need to find what works for us, and we gotta keep it simple. Completely changing our routines or overcomplicating things or adding things to our day that will only become a habit to look over … they ain’t it.
Here are some ideas to embrace who you are, and still get sh*t done.
Make simpler lists.
Got a lot to do? Making an incredibly detailed list isn’t going to crank up our volume … or velocity. That’s not who we are, remember? Try prioritizing the list. What things HAVE to get done, TODAY, and what can wait till tomorrow? We can do that one, or maybe two things. Whew. Load off. If there’s time, we’ll start on the others. Or we’ll put on an episode of whatever we’re bingeing and reorg priorities tomorrow. Don’t worry, there’s time.
Have slower mornings.
If pedal-to-the-metal in the morning sounds like actual hell, then don’t try to do it. It’ll end up making you resentful of your tasks, and not actually starting them till noon anyway, and feeling anxious and guilty about that. Instead, do your slow morning, and don’t think about work (unless there’s a pressing deadline, people counting on you at an exact early call time, or a scheduled meeting). That way, when you start at 12, or 1, it’s because you meant to do that. *Cracks knuckles and buckles down at the crack of noon.*
Take a nap
Dreading that 2 p.m. marker when your eyelids start to feel like they weigh 60 lbs each? Plan for a nap. Schedule work around it, and clock 15-20 minutes of shut-eye. If it takes you 3-5 mins to fall asleep, set the timer for 25, and DO wake up at the alarm. You earned it. OK, back to work for real now.
Sometimes a task isn’t difficult, but it’s annoying. Maybe it’s a little tedious or boring. You’ve been here before—you take three hours to do it instead of the one it really requires. Try setting a timer on your phone, and put your phone across the room so you’re not tempted to burn your time slot scrolling. Once the alarm goes off, make sure to wrap that task in a focused manner and then give yourself a little scroll cookie … or an actual cookie. It’s reward time!
Avoid too much snacking
Not to contradict ourselves, but hear us out about that cookie. Plan meals that have adequate fat and protein so that you stay satiated. Our brains need fuel to focus, and we don’t want to be distracted with hunger, pausing to snack often. Plus, the more often we snack, the more often our bodies release insulin—and holistic nutritionist Shauna Faulisi tells us that when we are constantly releasing insulin, we feel depleted in our “energy, mood, and overall vibrancy.” Not helpful for staying sharp.
Make a workstation setup
Don’t trust yourself to work from bed. Or that ultra-cozy corner of the couch you’re definitely bingeing HBO from later tonight. Make sure it’s a work environment and you’re sitting differently than you would be when you’re chilling off the clock. This keeps blood flowing and prevents you from drifting into making mood boards on Pinterest, online shopping, or scrolling, YET AGAIN.
Touch your toes
No, really. While we absolutely recommend a morning fitness routine of any kind (could be as simple as a walk, 10 minutes of yoga, a HIIT, or a longer routine or class) to get circulation going and happy hormones a’juicin’, a little stretch throughout the day, like touching your toes, does wonders for the brain. It boosts circulation, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain, elongates the spine, stretches tight hammies, and gives the entire body a little energy flush for a sense of renewal. Do it as often as you like.
If focus is not your BFF, that’s OK. No one said you have to get along all the time. You don’t have to marry focus. But you do have to tolerate it for stretches of time. Make focus time separate from break time, and make sure to take those breaks, guilt-free. Time them so they don’t become the rest of the day … that’s too easy to do!
Use positive self-talk
Constantly telling yourself how lazy and unproductive you are is a nasty cycle of self-actualizing manifestation. Give yourself props for your accomplishments, and remind yourself how capable you are and that you’ve got this. It goes a long way for the psyche and for your reality that you paint for yourself.
Note which times of the day are best for what, for your brain specifically
Humans aren’t wired to be creative all the time, or from exactly 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Try to note which pockets of the day feel most creative to you, and do your creative tasks at those hours, saving other times for more administrative kinds of work like emails, logging or filing information, organizing, client outreach, project management, etc. Everyone is so different, so capitalize on what works for you.