Confession: I am a perfectionist.
It makes me really good at this job. It can also drive me insane.
In my journey through life as a perfectionist I've learned that beating myself up all the time for not accomplishing my goals is really not good for my mental health or my long-term productivity. This realization has led me to recognize the unhelpful mental loops that I used to send myself through all the time (and sometimes still do.) I've also noticed that I'm not the only person struggling with unproductive spirals.
These unhelpful and unproductive spirals are what sends us spinning 'round and 'round until we spiral out of control feeling terrible about ourselves and a million miles from the destination that we had in mind. (Which doesn't help you conquer either your occupational or wedding planning goals!)
My loop used to go something like this:
- Wake up feeling ready to do ALL THE THINGS
- Immediately write a list on my phone of ALL THE THINGS I want to get done
- Give myself the very logical deadline of TODAY to get it ALL done
From this point my day would split into a couple different potential directions:
1. Realize an hour into my day how long this ONE thing is taking me > feel terrible for being slow > look up a way to do it faster > get lost in an internet rabbit hole > realize that I've just wasted so much time > realize that my to do list is impossibly long > feel defeated and give up (aka spend the rest of the day doing busy work.)
2. Get a couple little things done > go to check them off on my phone > decide to check my social media accounts while on my phone > get off my phone eventually > realize I didn't check my list for my next task > get back on my phone > find my next task > check social media "real quick" again > start and complete the next task > repeat.
The second method isn't quite as self-defeating, but I still spend WAY more time unproductively than productively, which doesn't bring me any closer to my dreams of vanquishing my to do list with daytime to spare.
The productivity boosting methods I've learned aren't anything new or revolutionary. They aren't geared more towards business women or towards brides. They are methods that I heard from multiple sources time and time again, but it wasn't until I finally took the time to break down why I was being unproductive that I saw how much these methods could help.
So what does my productive loop look like now? Well...
First, I Get that List Off My Phone!
My phone is great. It enables me to stay in touch with so many people and allows me to use my favorite app, Instagram! My phone can also lead to lots of unproductive time. So the first thing I do is take all of today's known tasks off my favorite list app and write them down on paper.
With a paper list my options for getting distracted as I check things off are limited, which is good!
Recently, and I KNOW I'm not the only person out there saying this, I've been working on doing this list writing at the end of each day starting with the 3 most important tasks at the top. I heard it time and time again before I really paid attention, but been completely worth it so far! You'll wake up feeling more focused and can't fall into the trap of spending way too long to write your list.
Second, I View My List as Goals Not "To Do"s
This tip is because of the perfectionist in me. Formerly, when I wouldn't get an item knocked off my list, I would feel terrible. I would consistently have items rolling over from one day to the next and feel unproductive because of the urgency with which I was viewing them. What I forgot was that I only have a limited number of hours in a day and each task takes a certain amount of time.
Now that I view my list as a list of goals not to dos I'm way more productive. I don't feel guilty and overwhelmed when items roll over, so the next day it's easier for me to dive back in. The less time spent on negative feelings means more time spent getting things done, even if the wording doesn't actually change anything. The right mentality will carry you far.
(This is also where starting with the 3 most important tasks comes in handy - because you're not ignoring the actually important tasks, which also helps you from real feelings of being behind.)
Third, When I Feel like Superwoman, I Fuel It
When you wake up wanting to do ALL THE THINGS don't kill your motivation by conquering the hard stuff first. Yeah, you can take it, but you're likely to kill that empowered feeling when you tackle your epic 3 hour project first thing in the day. Why? Because when you look at the clock and half the day is gone yet you've only done one thing, you'll likely feel like you still have too much on your plate. However, if you feed your motivation a handful of smaller tasks and clear what looks like a large chunk off your list, that superwoman feeling will carry you further and lead to better results as you begin on your larger projects. Especially since you won't be struggling with feeling the pressure of the other items on your to do list, so you can feel fully free to focus on the big stuff.
So, whether you're planning a wedding, running a business, or trying to do a little of both, give these things a try and see if they can help keep you out of those unproductive spirals!
What are your unproductive loops like? How do you combat them?