You might think I’m a princess of productivity over here. Working, writing, reading, spending time with the kids, and still having time to enjoy life. You’ll never hear me say, “I’m busy,” but I still have lots to get done in a day. Another time I’ll talk with you about how to set up your schedule, but today, let’s talk about being productive in the most painless way possible.
The best way to get shit done is not to have to think about it too much.
Because when we think about the things we don’t want to do, it’s too easy to simply not do it.
Rituals make the process of starting, easier.
Introducing a ritual to your work creates a mindless habit. And once you’ve started, the power is in the momentum. You know, when you’re “in the zone” and don’t know you’re working, writing, painting, or whatever it is that you just can’t start.
Here are some examples of rituals I use:
I created a music playlist called, “write the book” and every time I had scheduled the time to write and edit my book, I started the playlist from the beginning. When “Believe” by Mumford and Sons started playing, my body knew it was time to write
When I sit down with my coffee each morning, it’s time to start journaling
When I need to start a piece of client work, I have a playlist for that too, which depends on who I’m writing for. Yoga instructors, calm music (or, I’ll listen to their podcasts), badasses and coaches, I’ll play Metallica.
Light a candle, pick up the phone for client consults
Light a candle in the evening, time for writing
To set rituals up for yourself, don’t force it. This is something I noticed that happened naturally; totally unforced. Some tips:
Notice the habits you already have. Is there a “trigger” that makes these habits happen? Maybe you hear your alarm, and you grab your sneakers and head out for a run, or you notice the FedEx truck and realize it’s time for lunch.
Make a huge list of things you enjoy; walks, podcasts, chocolate. Take one of the things you enjoy, and add a productive task to immediately follow. Cue up a podcast, scrub the toilets. Turn on your favorite music, write a blog post. A sip of tea, start working through your email.
When you're able to simply start, momentum takes over and you'll probably find you're able to get more done. Keep in mind, this isn't about crossing stuff off your to-do list like a crazy taskmaster, it's about prioritizing the things you want to accomplish. It's about doing the things that will leave you with a contented smile as your head hits the pillow each night.