Are you feeling stuck in a rut or not as productive as you know you could be?
Firstly go easy on yourself. Life doesn’t have to be running at a ridiculous pace. What I am encouraging here is that instead of increasing your frustration when you can’t get things done, intervene and try something new. Use this to overcome procrastination or kick start a new activity that is important to you but you don’t feel you have been making any headway to being productive.
My current personal example has been knuckling down to achieve the word count in my book. I have just not been as productive as I would like and I do have the available time.
I have shared in numerous blogs how when you create habits, you reduce your reliance on willpower to get things done. So ideally, when you want to create an outcome and make it as easy as possible for yourself to achieve — getting fit, learning a new skill or in my case, completing my book, creating an associated routine or habit really helps. To form habits efficiently, it is useful to consider whether you are a morning or evening person in the context of the particular tasks you must undertake.
As a morning person I have a tendency to use the morning time for focussed work, yet I know I can be at my most creative in the evenings. So where possible, I have matched my habits accordingly.
Gretchen Rubin says that “The morning is a great time to form a regular habit, because self- control is high, there are fewer distractions, and it’s highly predictable.” She also qualifies this by saying that a true evening person would not necessarily agree, particularly if they are still sleeping in those morning hours!
However, whether you are morning or evening person doesn’t entirely define what your new routine consists of in order to best increase your productivity.
In addition to factoring the potential time of day to support you achieving more in the time you have, you must consider a number of other factors or preferences you have.
- whether you like to be alone or with others
- if you like to be indoors or out in nature
- whether you are able to influence how you spend your time or whether that is that fixed
- if you want to be accountable to yourself or someone else
- how much structure and planning you like in your day versus spontaneity
You can compile your own list factoring things that are important to you. If you are someone that likes to be around people but you are self-employed, try work in a coffee shop. If you crave for the outdoors, factor in a walk or two into your routine.
I would also argue that in order to be at your most productive and/or able to form great habits, self-care needs to be in there. Consider whether it is important to you to incorporate music, meditation or reading perhaps to support your wellbeing. Write your list.
Once you have an overview of what time of day you like to work and what environmental factors work for you and what preferences you have, you, try out some new routines. Another consideration, particularly in the case when you are feeling stuck or unable to perform well in an existing routine, test out doing the opposite.
I have got into a habit of writing daily at night and sat on the sofa with my laptop. But as much as I have tried this wasn’t helping me to achieve my word count as consistently as I would have liked. So, just out of curiosity I tried getting up early and writing before I even shower and change sat at my desk or table, in a very different set up to my evening musing. To my surprise, it works. If I analyse this further it is actually my evening writing habit that is most at odds with my preferences but as both times of day are quiet at home, I need quiet, perhaps they are not too dissimilar.
One factor I had not considered until I tried out my new routine is how helpful it is to get new and productive routines complete in the morning so they are out of your headspace for the remainder of the day. When you want to get things done, by prioritising them first thing, not only increases the likelihood of them happening but they are out of your hair and allows other activities to take your focus thereafter.
What outcome are you struggling to achieve at the moment? What new habits or routines could you form to help you over thins hump? Think about your preferences and if in doubt test out something at the opposite end of the spectrum and see what you learn and can act on accordingly.