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Have you ever heard the saying, “don’t be busy, be productive?” If that resonates with you then you’re in the right place. Let me preface this post by saying I’m one of those people who always seems to have a to-do list that’s a million miles long. Even when I think I shouldn't be busy, I am. Sometimes I’m able to scratch multiple things off my list in a day, while other times I feel like I’m trying to do two million things at once and nothing gets accomplished. This leads me to hack numero uno…
Work on Bite-Sized Goals.
It's easier than it seems. Just write all of your goals down as you normally would, and then focus on accomplishing one at a time instead of trying to bite off more than you can chew by multitasking. By doing that, you risk not accomplishing anything at all. Eventually, accomplishing all of your smaller tasks or goals will help you finish a larger project in the long run. For example, if your larger goal is to write a 50,000 word novel, think about how you can break that down so you don't feel like you have to be chained to your laptop all day.
Large Goal: Write a 50K novel.
Smaller Goal: Outline the first chapter.
Smaller Goal: Write the first chapter.
See where I'm going here?
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work (Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World), defines the term "deep work" as "the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” So what does this mean for you when you're trying to write a book? One word. EVERYTHING. Writing a book is a very demanding and time consuming task. Start to ask yourself what are ways you can take on writing a book without sacrificing any of the other things you do in a day. Below are two examples of how you can get your "deep work" on.
Set aside a certain time slot or day of the week in your calendar just for writing. In other words, think about what times of the day you feel the most creative, and block off that time to focus solely on your writing. You can start small by blocking off 30 minutes or even a full hour.
Silence your cell. Why? You know why. Our cell phone are literally the most distracting things we own. If the purpose of setting aside time is to get something accomplished, you don't want to waste your time falling down the rabbit hole of social media.
Chill TF Out.
Can I be honest with you for a second? Yeah? Okay, here it goes. My brain automatically turns on full speed the moment my alarm goes off and my eyes pop open for the day. I immediately start thinking about all of the things I need to accomplish for the day, and sometimes that can make for a very overwhelming, stressful, hectic morning before my feet even touch the ground. If you can relate, then I know your anxiety is probably going through the roof right about now, right? Breathe.
Everyone knows how it feels to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Sometimes taking a mental chill pill is the only way to get things done. Instead of overloading your mental plate with tasks first thing in the morning, try creating a morning routine that makes you feel relaxed so you can ease into your day. The more stress you take off yourself, the easier it will be to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Have a Cut Off Point.
After running around all day, there comes a point where my brain and body literally begin to shut down. When I feel that happening, I don't try to push past that feeling. Instead, I close my laptop. This sends a signal to my brain that I'm offically off duty and I will return to whatever I was working on the next day. Once the laptop is shut, I begin to transition into my chill, personal mode and try to do anything that'll help me relax and unwind for the rest of the night.