*Note: This is an article I wrote for Harness Magazine that was published on May 22, 2018. To view the article on the original site, click here.
Getting your act together – it seems as if it should be easy enough and it can be when you get that first rush of motivation. You have a list of goals you wish to accomplish, your dream board made and your sleeves rolled up. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it’s 10 p.m. and you’ve spent the majority of the day rewarding yourself with long Netflix breaks for every menial task you’ve managed to mark off your list. Believe it or not, it’s possible to break the trend of perpetual laziness by taking these small steps to really get your act together:
- Your memory isn’t reliable, so keep track of your life. Planners aren’t merely for the struggling college student. When you have a multitude of bills and appointments to keep up with along with your daily to-do’s, a planner can be a tremendous lifesaver. Record all your bills, important events and strict deadlines, ensuring you’re never caught off guard. Then make your to-do list, starting with what must be done and ending with what you would like to accomplish that day.
- Be brutally honest about what you can accomplish. You may have big ideas, but you have to be real with yourself instead of getting caught up in your daydreams. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and how long it’s going to take and then set a rigid timeline for yourself for when it will be completed. Unless you set a deadline, you’ll brush it off and assure yourself that you’ll get to it later.
- Making lists is simple, sticking to them is a whole different ballgame. Your large goals that require time, patience and hard work will seem daunting, overwhelming you so greatly that you may not attempt the goal at all. Break down what needs to be done into bite-size tasks that you know you can accomplish. Do you dream of writing the next great American novel? Awesome, now break it down. You can make a vow to yourself to write for 15-20 minutes a day or have a word count that must be completed by the end of the week.
- Create your girl-boss routine. The word “routine” can conjure images of boring men in suits ordering their regular coffee and sitting at a desk for hours, completely devoid of any spontaneity. While the thought of a daily routine may make you shudder, the benefits far outweigh your personal disdain for structure. Creating a solid routine will allow you to mark more off your to-do list and you’ll know exactly what needs to be done and when you need to do it. Once you develop a routine that becomes a habit, your life will feel more organized, your mental state will improve and you’ll actually get shit done.
- You’re not a child anymore; declutter your space and pick up your shit. If you’re the type who has random knickknacks littering your shelves without an inkling of where they originated, it’s time to do some serious decluttering. A clean home will leave you feeling refreshed, motivated and ready to be more productive. Toss or donate what you don’t use anymore and make room in your life for what fills you with inspiration.
- Limit your time on social media. We all know social media is an extreme time waster, but knowing something doesn’t make it less tempting. It’s relatively easy to get stuck in the void of Instagram and scroll for hours. Limit your time on social media through apps that block your access to time waster sites for a set amount of time. Apps such as SelfControl and Freedom will allow you to keep your mind on your work and off your phone.
- Only action will create motivation. Inspiration comes and goes, leaving us feeling prepared to tackle the world one minute and feeling completely lackluster the next. When work needs to be done, it’s impossible to wait around for inspiration to find you. While there are a few different ways to motivate yourself – going out into nature, discovering new music, and listening to podcasts or audiobooks – the only true way to get shit done is to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work. The more you accomplish, the more motivated you’ll become.
- Stop being lazy and get your health in check. Activities like meditation are proven to not only boost your mental health but also reduce stress and increase concentration. This doesn’t mean you have to sit for 30 minutes in your home reciting mantras – even three to five minutes a day focusing on your breathing will leave you feeling refreshed and brand new. The app Headspace gives you three, five or 10 minute guided sessions, along with instructional videos that will ease you into the art of meditation.
- Recognize the difference between your needs and wants. It’d be nice to live lavish and never worry about money, but for most of us, this is nothing more than a pipe dream. It’s important to avoid spending more than you make and to cover all of your bills without going from pending to a negative bank balance. Track how much you spend and what you’re spending it on and you will quickly realize what areas you’re wasting money. It might help if you also stop ordering takeout and learn how cook yourself a damn meal every once in a while.
- Designate a GYST day. If you still find yourself struggling to mark your to-do’s off throughout the week, you may want to consider designating one day of the week as a GYST day (get your sh*t together). This is an entire day just for accomplishing those tasks that usually sit on the back burner. A GYST day can be structured in a variety of ways and can involve a multitude of tasks, but what’s most important is to use this day to GET SH*T DONE.