Hello Beautiful Souls,
How many of you are guilty of putting things off, saying oh, I'll do that later? I certainly am! Just pushing things aside, saying we can do it tomorrow, is super easy to do, but what affect does this have on our tomorrow? Honestly, I've found that putting things off just allows it to continue to build and build until I've put off a million things for a month (sometimes more), and now I have a huge problem to deal with.
The bigger issue here, aside from there being a messy house or some dirty dishes, is that this can easily lead to us putting off our dreams and aspirations. For me, blogging fell into this category for awhile. The work I thought I would need to put into it and the fear of others reading my thoughts and words allowed me to keep putting off writing, until I realized I wasn't doing something that could have tremendous benefit. I also did this with my yoga practice for quite some time. I thought I needed to learn a certain amount before being able to start a home practice, but that just prevented me from growing and exploring. And, I never defined what this certain amount of knowledge or experience was, which usually means there never really will be "enough." I just needed to get over the hump and believe that I could develop a home practice with time, practice, and patience.
So, what are we to do; how can we reverse this cycle of procrastination? Following these rules have helped me get over that hump:
1. Do things immediately, and I mean now. This can be applied to so many things in our lives. If you see something lying out in your apartment, put it away right then. Need to write a paper for school? Get started on it now. Want to start a home yoga practice? Spend the next 10 minutes trying it out. Following this will require some discipline but through practice, doing things right as they present themselves will become second nature.
2. Make mini-tasks. If you need to do a big task, - reading that book you've had your eyes on, completing a project at work, creating a blog - just do a small task that will lead to the overall goal. Often, the thing that gets us caught in the "I'll do that later" cycle is feeling as though we don't have time to complete the whole task. This was one of my biggest challenges. If I couldn't finish the whole thing in one sitting, from beginning to end, I wouldn't even start. If that's the case for you, break the task into smaller ones that you can accomplish with a short amount of time. Read for just 10-15 minutes, find 3 sources for that big paper or project, write one post that will help make up the larger blog. If we can commit to just 10-20 minutes to doing a small task, we can get ourselves to the bigger goal. And, it's funny that often once you get yourself started you might find that you spend more time on it than planned.
3. Create a todo list and schedule. Anyone else out there forget things like two seconds after the fact? Super annoying, right!? If this sounds familiar, create yourself a todo list and calendar. Keeping yourself organized is super important to productivity. I use Google Calendar for all my appointments and regular daily schedule. For a todo list, I use Todoist, which allows me to assign a date and project for each item. I like that both allow me to use them on my laptop and have apps for my phone, so I can keep organized on the go. If I think of something I need to get done but I'm not going to apply the first rule (getting it done now), I put it on my todo list and set a date for when I'm going to do it. It's really nice to be able to look at it in the morning and know what I need to focus on for the day. If these two platforms aren't your jam, play around with it and find what works for you. Create your own system so it'll stick and be useful.
4. Declutter. Honestly, I could write a whole post on decluttering (hmm, maybe I should..), because this has been such a game changer for me. Disorganization creates chaos. In order to keep my mind in order, I've got to keep my space in order. For me, this includes cleaning up my desk when I'm all done, closing browser tabs I'm no longer using, cleaning out my inbox, and writing down thoughts. Let's break this down a bit. There's keeping our physical space clean, like your work space or home. Then, there's the cyber clutter. Phew, this has gotten bad, my friends. I have far too many unopened emails in my inbox and spend more hours a day than I'd like to admit on social media. If this is also you, spend some time getting rid of the things that aren't serving you. For instance, if you get tons of emails from sites you never signed up for (seriously, where do these come from!?), unsubscribe...right now! Don't fall into the trap of just deleting the email, and instead follow the first rule of unsubscribing the instant you realize you don't need these emails. For those emails you want to read but are piling up, refer to rule two - create a mini-task of spending 15 minutes going through emails. Do this for a few days and watch that inbox clear up. Another way to declutter online is to go through those social media accounts. Are you following businesses or people that aren't feeding you anymore? Go through them and hit unfollow. If you're worried this might seem harsh, just think about how much time you spend on social media. Go ahead, count up the multiple hours. Life is too short to follow people that aren't providing valuable vibes to your life. Wouldn't you rather have a feed full of inspiration and uplifting messages? That's what I've chosen and am so much happier because of it. Lastly, clearing up that mental space. If you're someone who can keep a thousand things all neat and tidy in your mind, I envy you. Some days, it feels like my mind is going a million miles per second and I have so many ideas and things to remember. In order to calm my mind and not lose those ideas I might want to do something with, I keep a journal handy. It might be helpful to keep a journel in your bag to have handy throughout the day or designate a specific time in your day to write. Have an idea that you'd like to write a post about, jot it down. Think of that errand you're supposed to run, add it to your todo list. Feeling anxious and scattered, take a few minutes to write some thoughts down to get them out of your head.
Okay, with some tips and rules laid out, let's move into the why. Why try to organize and declutter your life? Well, there are some pretty tremendous benefits you might find from doing this. First, you'll likely feel much more calm throughout your day. Through removing some of the chaos and disorganization in your life, you're more likely to feel less chaotic and disorganized yourself. Your mind might feel more at ease knowing that you have a game plan and that you won't forget anything with that trusty todo list.
Which leads to the second benefit, getting more done. By practicing the first rule and feeling more in control of your life, you're more likely to do those things you keep putting off. That might translate to a cleaner home or office, or it could mean finally achieving those goals that seemed too big or scary. You might start that blog, start exercising, finish a big project you've had your heart set on. Whatever it is for you, removing barriers to reaching those goals is the starting point.
Lastly, a huge part of this blog is dedicated to mental health, so I have to make a connection to it here. By focusing on getting things done as soon as possible, creating more organization, and freeing up space you might actually find that you're far less anxious than before. And, I'm not just talking to people who have anxiety disorders. These strategies can help with the daily anxieties we all feel. Many of us spend our days running from one thing to the next, playing multiple roles, worrying about getting everything done, not forgetting appointments or errands to run, and on and on it goes. This pattern breeds anxious, stressed out people, which has some pretty scary health consequences. So, if for no other reason, choose to simplify your life for your mental and physical health.
The possibilities for creating calm and order in your life are endless and really should be specific to you and your life. These are tips that I've found super helpful in my life. Maybe you'll also find them helpful, maybe not. Take what you need and feel free to leave the rest. No need to clutter your life with unnecessary tips. How do you all find ways to simplify and create calm in your life? Let me know other strategies that have worked for you, so we can all learn from each other.
With love - Namaste
This post was inspired by Leo Babauta's Zen Habits. You can check out his post here.