Because honestly, that term scares me.
As if we’re robots. As if we’re all striving to Produce! Produce! Produce!
Whilst I’m totally happy with the concept of a ‘productive day’ I find the online hunger for ’10 things productive people do before breakfast’ and apps and life hacks and listicles to suddenly make you become this machine for churning out awesome bestselling works…incredibly depressing.
My life doesn’t work like that.
If I’m not going to do a thing, I doubt a $1.99 app is going to make it happen. If my heart’s not in something or there’s a reason I’m avoiding it, doing 10 things before feeding my rumbling tummy probably won’t help. And treating my entire life as a never-ending to-do list is a pretty quick way to make me dive under my bed and hide (check out this terrifying video – argh, make it stop!)
As self-employed people, freelancers, activists, business owners, side-hustlers, volunteers, students, general participants in life or whatever we are that means we have to work on our own volition, sometimes we all need encouragement to stop procrastinating and do the thing.
I don’t have any productivity tips for you. Instead, let’s call this…
How to do your ideas.
Yes you. Yes, your ideas.
In the past year I’ve designed and launched an online tarot course, created a social network for tarot geeks, written over 100 blog posts, designed a jewellery range and I’m just finishing up my first little e-book. Alongside this, I’ve built 12 client websites, delivered countless tarot readings, written 24 articles for Autostraddle, held down a relationship with the most awesome woman in the entire world and renovated, sailed and sold my narrowboat.
Seth Godin I am not. But I do get things done. Is it because I am magic?
Yes! But also:
I have a secret formula.
- Clean my desk.
- Get very excited and totally obsessed about my ideas.
- Do the things until the idea is done.
But that was mean of me. You clicked here because you wanted productivity tips (even though I specifically told you I didn’t have any.) So let me break it down a little more.
Here’s how I get shit done:
- Clean desk. Internet off. Phone away. Phone away. Coffee. This is about setting intent. Caring about yourself enough to take yourself seriously. Don’t set yourself up for failure by keeping Twitter open in your browser or sending a bunch of texts before you begin. Give yourself space. Whatever you need. Don’t drink coffee? Get a herbal tea. Don’t have a desk? Clear the sofa, or the floor. Whatever. Take yourself seriously.
- Sketch out your idea. Lists, mind-maps, planning, excitement. It’s a free-for-all! There’s no pressure, only an awesome idea to explore. What does it look like in completion? Start there. Maybe that’s overwhelming! But at least you’re visualising it. Then break it down. What are the component parts of this finished idea? Can these be broken down into do-able tasks?
- Do the first thing. Yes you. Yes now. Don’t wait. Don’t put up barriers. Do the first thing.
- Get obsessed. Cancel all your plans. Bury yourself in your project. Be a total nerd about it. Forget about work-life balance, this is life. All that matters is your project.
- Do the next thing.
- Carry on until its done. Launched, sold, made, presented, gifted. Feel incredible. Well done! You are **totes amaze!** I knew you could do it!!!!
- REST. Party. Walk. Have sex. Go for dinner. Watch Netflix. Get drunk. Do exercise. Chill the heck out.
- Repeat steps 1-7.
I don’t complete every project I start.
For every project I complete, every blog post I publish, every product I launch, another ends up in the bin, languishes in drafts or simply fades away. I’m not a productivity machine. I’m not a robot. You don’t just programme in an idea and the result comes out the other end. Sometimes an idea turns out to be boring. Sometimes I get distracted.
Who cares? Not me. I only care about the ones I’m going to complete. You can carry the weight of an unfinished idea around with you for several years, the way we carry unfinished knitting projects, unread books, half-written letters. Ditch them. They’re sapping your energy.
Focus on the stuff that lights you up, turns you on, makes you wanna do…and do…and do, till it’s done.
Set intent. Get obsessed. Do things.
At least, that’s what works for me. What about you?
Further reading on self-motivation:
Sarah J Bray recently published this thoughtful piece about creating strategies that are self-perpetuating. As someone who has written extensively about struggles with motivation and procrastination, yet has achieved a great deal, Sarah is one of my favourite writers on freelance topics.
CLEAN YOUR DESK! This video makes me extremely, extremely happy.
Maya Elious: Three reasons you haven’t started your dream business.
Esme Wang on how to be productive while living with chronic illness (or any sort of unpredictable life situation).
Alexandra Franzen on 10 slow and difficult steps to moderate success. Really though. This.
Michelle Nickolaisen on 5 ways to increase your freelance productivity. My favourite? Write first.
For business folks who don’t like business planning: Regina Anaejionu on creating a creative action plan you’ll actually want to follow.
“I could never…”. Paul Jarvis puts it simply:
If you’re a person who likes reading about those things but personally “could never” do them, then you’re right. You won’t. Our desire for being right is so strong that chances are if we convince ourselves of something, we’ll stop questioning it.
Stop doing shit you don’t like. Another from Paul Jarvis.
Got any tips to help folks to get shit done? Share them below!
PS If you’re really struggling with procrastination, you may also enjoy this fun tarot spread… :)