Lately, I’ve been giving myself little pep talks saying, “One thing done is one thing less to do. Just keep going. Don’t give up. Every little bit helps!” It isn’t always easy to think positively, but it’s true that every little bit helps. My pan even smiled back at me (above pic) recently reminding me that even though things can get bumpy and gritty to just have faith that a little elbow grease will smooth things out again.
If you’ve ever felt defeated because work keeps piling up or it seems like everyone else is always two steps ahead, I know exactly how you feel. I’m constantly fighting those same feelings, but I’m not giving up yet and neither should you. Together let’s regain our mental strength and get pumped up!
What helps me, especially when someone is watching me with a critical eye or leading me to feel inferior to their abilities, is to get a little bit angry. Not a lot, just a little bit. Usually, I sulk for a bit first, but then I light a fire in my belly to prove my worth. Rejection and doubt from others can be fantastic “tackling fuel” like in the silly movie The Water Boy.
Here’s a quick list of reminders that I like to coach myself with when I need a pick me up to handle an overwhelming mountain of to-dos and critical skeptics. Let’s get pumped up!
Reminders To Help You Tackle Your Goals And To-do List
1. Stop over thinking – Keep your head clear of mental clutter. And flush out your emotions. I have a tendency to think too much about things and get stuck in the process. Simplify. Pick one thing to do right now. Repeat. Don’t think too much about it or talk about it, just do it.
2. Hyper-focusing doesn’t work for everyone – I have a hard time with hyper-focusing. I’m usually juggling multiple projects at once and can’t focus on just one thing for long periods of time. If you’re able to hyper-focus and do well, stick with it. But if it’s not feasible or you stink at it like me, move on!
3. Stop underestimating the power of 5 minutes – Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but if you concentrate you can cross something off your to-do list! Little wins add up to big wins. Even in just five minutes you can load the dishwasher, reply to a couple emails, water your plants, come up with dinner plans, do some stretches, brainstorm some business ideas, vacuum one room, or read one or two articles. If you’ve been tackling a project for too long, take a 5 minute break to do something else productive that’s relatively mindless to give your brain a break. Taking short intervals in between work is how I like to tackle cleaning my house. Cleaning is exhausting and tedious in large blocks of time, but is much more manageable and less of a pain in little windows of time.
4. Remind yourself of your strengths – When someone tells us we aren’t good enough or have disappointed them, it feels absolutely awful. To help pick yourself up, fight back with what you are good at. Grow a thicker skin, turn sadness into determination, and also consider outsourcing things you’re weak on so you can thrive on what you do best. I got in a fight with a friend recently and I was left feeling beaten to a pulp and smaller than a grain of sand. I cried, listened to sorrowful music, and wallowed in my sadness. I needed time to be alone and release my emotions, but I limited myself to about 15 minutes of sulking and then pulled up my bootstraps and got back to work. It sucks getting knocked down but it makes us stronger and we can’t let it ruin our entire day. When you’re down you just have to exhale and then brush yourself off and remember everything that you are good at and believe that things will get better.
5. Age is not an excuse – You’re never too old to change. Yes, change totally gets harder the older we become, but remind yourself that the word “impossible” spells out “I’m possible.” I like to look at pictures of white haired senior citizens who are working, running, or are super fit to remind myself that I’m not too old to keep learning and push my limits. I saw a white-haired couple just the other day riding bikes together like they were teenagers. I want to be like them when I’m old and make the most of now. Age is not an excuse!
6. Take some time to organize – Some of the work that I do is rather administrative and I have to handle a bunch of forms and receipts. If I wasn’t organized it would take me ten times as long to do a lot of my work. Try to get a little more organized each week to help cut out inefficiencies. I am obsessed with keeping my computer organized and have subfolders for everything. I would have lost it a long time ago if I wasn’t so organized with both my personal and work files.
7. Cut down on switching – We are a bunch of crazy, rapid switchers. We write a text message, read an email, check facebook, write another text message, do some work, read an email, and switch, and switch, and switch all day long. I can’t cut out switching entirely, it’s just not practical or realistic. But I can do it less often and you probably can too. The best is to start with things like not texting while driving, putting your phone away when you’re in a meeting, and turning your ringer off if you’re having a deep conversation with someone. Too much switching is terrible for productivity so try to limit your distractions and temptations when you have a lot to do.
8. Log your time – I’m trying to do this more. One reason I want to log my time is to put some pressure on myself. Another reason is to feel proud of how hard I’m working on different tasks. And I also want to track how much my time is worth. If it takes me eight hours to do something that I thought would only take four, I need to rethink how I charge for my services and make sure to plan enough time to get things done. Logging your time helps you figure out where you need the most help and improvement too.
9. Plan your day in advance – I try to have a set of objectives every day. When I don’t plan things out, time tends to slip away and I’m left feeling frustrated at the end of the day. Look at your calendar in advance to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Then set objectives for the morning, midday, afternoon, and evening. Even if you only prioritize a few things for the entire day, planning things out increases your chances at actually getting things done.
10. Drop the excess – There are so many things I want to learn and experience but a lot of them are on the back burner. I’ve dropped dance classes, language lessons, meetups, and a lot of TV shows in order to take on more projects, have a flexible schedule, and save money. When your to-do list calls, something’s gotta give. Drop the excess and focus on your priorities. You can always pick things back up later.
11. Exercise and sleep – As someone who rarely exercised for most of my life, I’m happy that I’m starting to work out more regularly. It helps clear my head, lifts my spirits, and of course is good for my health. I had too many sick days last year and I am on track to change that this year. Secondly, be careful not to push yourself so hard that you become seriously sleep deprived. I can’t think worth a damn when I’m too low on sleep and neither can most people. Ariana Huffington gave a fantastic, short TED speech on How To Succeed? Get More Sleep I recommend you listen to.
12. Change your environment – I heard on a podcast the other day that changing your environment can be beneficial when learning new things. While it may take a little bit of time to adjust to a new space, it can help to gain new perspectives and feel freed from emotional baggage or writers block. I don’t usually work in coffee shops or cafes but I like to move from one spot to another when I’m working from home. Even tiny moves like from the couch to the dining table and then to my desk or the kitchen peninsula are helpful to me. If you’ve been working in the same space for too long but aren’t able to work from elsewhere, at least you can rearrange the furniture or change your deck decorations around to mix things up a bit.
While I can’t actually help you do something on your to-do list, unless you want to pay me to proofread your resume or write you an article 🙂 , I hope that reading the above list of reminders will help you feel more empowered to get more things done. Don’t worry about the number of things on your list, just keep telling yourself that one thing done is one thing less to do!
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