12 ways to get things done, when you don’t feel like it.
By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
How to get moving again when you’re stuck.
There are lots of excuses we give ourselves for why we are not getting things accomplished. Life gets busy. Some days you are tired. Writers have a special excuse they use called “writer’s block.” If there are things you want to accomplish in life, you must do them, and the longer you stay stuck, the harder it is to get moving again. If you have things you say you want to do but aren’t making progress here are some suggestions to help you get things done.
1. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day getting organized.
Cleaning off your desk, putting away unneeded items, can pay big dividends by getting the things that you won’t need to do today out of your eyesight. Try creating a daily routine that gets you in the mood to be productive. Some people find it helpful to do their exercise in the morning before they start work. A few minutes of mindfulness or meditation practice may be useful.
2. Create a daily schedule and to-do lists.
As long as you are thinking about things you want to do someday, you never get anything done today. There’s something about writing things down that makes them more real. Every day has 24 hours, and it can seem like there will be plenty of time to get things done right up until you run out of time.
Start by making lists of things you’d like to accomplish. Estimate how much time each of those things is likely to take including extra time for setbacks, delays, and the inevitable procrastination. Break large projects down into smaller components. If you wait until you have time to sit down and write your novel, you will probably never get it done. What you can do is spend an hour each day, or more, outlining and then writing that book chapter by chapter.
3. Create doable goals.
Make sure the goals you are setting for yourself are, in fact, possible. Don’t overload your day by putting too many things on your to-do list. It’s easy to create unrealistic goals, which become excuses for never having accomplished anything. For years I said I wanted to write a book, but I
kept putting it off. What finally got me writing was the decision to write something each day until I finished the book.
4. Focus on one task at a time.
Trying to multitask can easily result in less productivity, not more. Very few people can do two tasks at the same time. When you try to do multiple things at the same time, you will waste a lot of time switching back and forth.
5. Tackle unpleasant tasks first.
Work on the things you’d like to avoid while you still have energy. I find I wake up in the morning with a small amount of willpower. If I spend that willpower doing lots of little pleasant chores that one big, unpleasant task never gets tackled. If the unpleasant chore can be completed in one day break it into chunks and do a little each day. What you see the progress you’re making in that area you will be more optimistic about tackling the other things you need to do today.
6. Give yourself deadlines.
Life happens. Plenty of things will come up to get between you and the things you say you want to do. Having a deadline in mind and doing small amounts each day, week, or month moves you forward. It’s natural to procrastinate and to be distracted from time to time. Once you have set a deadline for yourself, it helps you refocus each day on whether you’re moving towards that deadline.
For several years now, I’ve participated in the NaNoWriMo novel writing contest. The goal of this contest is to complete at least 50,000 words during November. If you don’t finish your 50,000 words by November 30, your book can be a winner. That self-imposed deadline has resulted in November each year being my most productive writing month.
7. Decide what’s okay and what’s not.
Set and enforce boundaries with others. Make firm commitments to yourself on things you will and won’t do. To devote yourself to one thing, you have to let other things go. Whatever you’re working on a big project, little things can chew up all your time. Don’t let other people distract you in pursuing your goal.
8. Help others.
Sometimes to make progress, you need to get away from what you been doing. Don’t use these breaks as ways to get out of the habit of doing. If you don’t feel like working on something for yourself, do something for someone else. Helping others can brighten your mood and get you moving again, ready for your own challenges.
9. Connect with positive people.
Positive people build you up and energize you. Negative people can drain you of all your energy. We all need somebody on our team whose cheering for our successes. The more you associate with positive people, the more positive you become.
10. Get adequate sleep.
Many people find their more productive if they get up an hour early. This only works if you get to bed at a reasonable time. Being chronically sleep deprived is like overdrawing your bank account. There will be additional long-term health consequences from being chronically short on hours of sleep.
11. Practice good self-care.
Make sure you eat healthy meals. Start your day off with breakfast. Make sure you do the things you need to do for your mental health. Remember the good self-care does not mean vegging out, doing nothing, or doing things that might be harmful.
12. Budget time to refill your well.
You don’t get very far running on empty. Include time in your schedule for reading, listening to music, and for maintaining your social connections. Spend some time each day learning something new. Check out the literature on productivity.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.
What if your family secrets put you in danger?
Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.