Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Productivity Tuesday: On the count of 5

I stay busy. I work 10-14 hours almost every day. I have seven different businesses going at the same time. So, if I'm going to get anything done, I'd better be efficient and productive.

I wish I could do it consistently, but like everyone, I go through periods where I just don't want to get up and do the next thing on my list. I'll get distracted away from starting my task. And if distractions don't present themselves, I'll seek them out. I'll sit on Facebook. I'll check Twitter. I'll brush the dog (that needs to be done daily since he's a Husky, but it doesn't need to be done right when I decide to do it because I'm avoiding drafting the invoice I have to create). I'll pretend like the task I end up doing was important enough to put off while the actual task that sits patiently on my to-do list waiting to be checked off as completed.

The resistance to starting seems to be my sticking point. Once I'm going on the task at hand, I get into it, and I do it. But up until the second I get my butt in gear and get moving, I'll seek and find the limits of my ability to procrastinate.

I've been reading a lot about how the brain is a habit-seeking structure. If what we need to do is habitual, we will get it done, often without thinking about it. Imagine brushing your teeth. For most of us, by the time we are adults, brushing our teeth has habitualized to the point that we rarely need to remind ourselves to do that. We might still need to remind ourselves to floss, but at least the brushing gets accomplished.

In other aspects of my life, I've developed a paradigm where I give myself permission to procrastinate before beginning a task. Sometimes, we just need that extra down time in order to recharge. But, for many of us, that extra few minutes turns into hours or even days. Suddenly, weeks have passed, and we are no closer to the goal. 

The setting and achieving of long term goals is for another post (perhaps that will be next week's Tuesday post). For today, I'm talking about small but important tasks we know we must do but do a great job of avoiding.

So, here's where the Count of 5 comes in. When I need time to procrastinate, I make that time a micro length. Instead of allowing myself minutes or hours to wallow in the sty of procrastination and avoidance, I give myself a count of 5. Now, that count of 5 (a simple 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) can be as long and languid as my breath can make it. I give myself that micro-break to think and dream about whatever I want. I release all need or anxiety about the task I need to begin. I float on a cloud of relaxation and enjoy the heck out of myself without thoughts of working, doing, or planning. I allow myself the pleasure of existence without stress. And I count to five. At the end of the five, I get up, I get moving, and I begin the task. Knowing that I had that time to myself without stress helps me proceed and blast off.

To me, utilizing this micro-break relaxation paradigm is a critical component of my productivity. If I give myself permission to revel in the freedom of those few seconds, that rejuvenation allows me to rise, forge ahead, and thrive.

Try it and let me know how it works for you.

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