You've got a ton to do, but everything's distracting you.
You find yourself using social media too much and reading too many blogs, and by the way, you should have finished that product a hundred times by now, but you keep putting it off...
Did I get it right? Probably because I felt this way just two weeks ago.
I've been putting off finishing important products and launches, and for what? For a ton of tweets, reading blogs I don't care that much for, and Gilmore Girls re-runs?! If I want to up my game, I'll have to figure out a more productive system, and I just did.
Now I'm sharing it with you because it's too good to keep to myself.
1. Remove temptations.
Do you know you're surrounded by temptations at any given time of your day?
Your phone occasionally buzzes, the tabs you've just opened are so compelling, and oh, let's not forget all the books and movies in and out of your computer. Hell, you probably have 5+ devices that could occupy your attention right about now.
But listen, if you want to achieve "flow" and be all there for your craft, you gotta set boundaries. And if you can't CHEAT. When I realized I couldn't stop playing Gilmore Girls 10 times a day, I realized it had to migrate to my external hard drive. Now if I wanted to watch it, I would have to make a conscious decision to choose GG over my work.
Which of course I wouldn't do, not when I have so much work to finish!
Now go and make it really hard for those temptation to monopolize your attention. If it's the Internet, put a lock on it, if it's your phone, turn it off, and if it's books, burn them. (KIDDING!) And don't even get me started on notifications, they're the first to go.
If you don't take your craft seriously, what are you even doing?
2. Pick your poison carefully.
Your poison being what you choose to consume every day.
Now, I probably mention Jen Carrington a lot, but whatever, she rocks.
You know she has this podcast called Make It Happen, right? I had a lovely conversation with her for Season 2, so that's coming. And whenever I'm sick or bored and unfit to work, I turn to old episodes and give them a listen. So far I've fallen in love with this episode with guest Regina from byRegina.com and this one with Kayla Hollatz.
In a shorter episode, Jen says: "Don't consume what keeps you small."
I couldn't agree more! We all consume so much daily, and let's be honest, most of it is skimming, and how much of that brings value to our businesses? (I'd say about 40%, and the number was way lower before. I'm shooting for 80% next month.)
Be intentional about your content consumption. (tweet this)
You know, I only read blog posts by my favorite bloggers, so I wouldn't waste any time skimming posts all day, but focus on those select few writers. It's like putting money on a race horse, except you're putting time on people who have brought you value before and will continue to do so. Also, the content you consume doesn't have to be in blog form. You'll get even more value from books and podcasts (my "poison").
3. Set your priorities straight.
Recently I took a test about "why you're really procrastinating." It told me I was on some kind of war against time, which always made me feel there's not enough of it or that I'm racing against it, and this unhealthy relationship is making me procrastinate.
That's scary accurate! So naturally, I threw some salt over my shoulder, went into a bath of blue-eye talismans, and started thinking about my problem with time. You could say it's always been scary for me how fast it goes and in some ways, not fast enough. Like some kind of two-headed Chinese dragon who blows fire from all sides. (ICK!)
Seriously though, the only way to beat time at its own game is NOT to think of the time you have but of the PRIORITIES you have set. If you read "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown like I told you to, you know that you can't say yes to everything. You need to only say yes to the essentials and strip your life of the non-essentials. That way, you're both improving the quality of your work and freeing up more space for what matters.
Prioritizing allows you to put one thing on a pedestal and recognize everything else is inconsequential. For example, February has been all about CREATING, and you know what? I don't miss the networking so much and my business didn't suffer any. In fact, more people are signing up for my services and newsletter, so in a weird way, prioritizing produced the effect I had to hustle for before - it drew people in even closer.
Sometimes I think it's a Universal thing. The minute you stop trying so hard, the Universe starts giving you what you want. Try it, you won't be sorry.
4. Set a time EARLY in the day.
I actually told you about this over on Soundcloud, but it was a bit babbly and the makeshift podcast is still an experiment, so let me just repeat it here.
When I figured that CREATION was my priority, and that naturally means writing, I figured I would have to have some kind of schedule. The only problem is: I hate schedules! I like rituals and systems, but scheduling time to write is like torture.
What if I'm not inspired at that time? What if I feel like doing something else? What if the world implodes because I gave up my freedom???
Yet, I sucked it up - like a grown up - and said to myself: Honey, you're gonna start writing exactly 1 hour after you get up. That would give you 1 hour to do whatever you want - be it checking email, social media, and whatever else - and once you have that out of your system, you can start writing early, so you'll have work DONE later.
Man, that worked like CRAZY. I am now doing this every single day, and I'll keep doing it for as long as I can because it's the opposite of procrastinating, mindless consumption, and it's amazingly energizing because your day starts with something you love.
Before you object, my dear night owl friend, let me remind you that I'm a night owl, too. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy writing early in the day. Take Julia Cameron's "morning pages" for example. Your mind is a fresh, blank slate in the morning, and after you put down a few whatever pages and free up your mental palate, great writing emerges.
Go on, try Julia's or my strategy. You'll be delighted by the results.
5. Take PROPER breaks.
Have you ever been so brain-fried that you had to get out of the house?
You took a walk, saw a friend, and came back home refreshed, recharged, and ready to kick some Internet butt. Research shows that walking helps you think and boosts your creativity. (Read all about it in my article about "walking meetings.") And even though you love watching your favorite TV show over and over, you know that's not enough.
Avoid mindless consumption that piles up in your brain and prevents you from unleashing the full power of your creativity. (tweet this)
Your brain needs proper breaks. At least once a day. If it's not a walk, maybe a few minutes of meditation and opening a window. Try QuietKit, which gives you guided meditations - anything from 2 to 10 minutes - and relax. Breathe the tension out...
You work hard, you play hard, and you deserve to rest hard, too.
And don't even think about sleeping less than your body needs tonight because that's literally when your brain gets cleaned from nasty toxins. The lack of sleep will not only make you sleepy and not all there, but it will also make it hard to do your work, make the right decisions, and keep your creativity up to its usual level.
And no, coffee won't help. Sleep is better.
If you made it this far, you're really serious about taking your creativity up a notch.
I'm glad because you have so much of it, and it's bursting to come out. Now go off and start creating, but not before you feast your eyes on some fun creative projects. Let them inspire you, drive you, and remind you what really matters and brings value.
- Check out Amanda Sandlin's process of drawing abstract paintings on her Instagram feed. (Watch the videos, they're especially entertaining.)
- Have you seen these abstract affirmations by Caroline Winegeart? (I actually bought the "do it differently" print from her shop. DUH.)
- Feast your eyes on this artist's representations of The Global Goals.
- If you do have some time to consume (LATER!), you can always turn to Austin Kleon. Check out his list of "100 things that made my year."
- Oh and this short article by Paul Jarvis is a must. RE: Priorities.
Thanks for reading! And rebel on.