It’s only kind of hard to make every day a productive, efficient day, right? We all need those lazy days every now and then where we sleep in, binge a Netflix series (or two…) and just have the time to ourselves to not worry about responsibilities.
However, it becomes dangerous territory when we start reversing the priorities and lack efficiency in most of our days. And if you’re not a single, childless bachelor[ette] that’s earlier on in their career, you can’t really afford to push very many priorities back.
Enters the “eating that frog” mentality. The possibility for frequent efficient days is there. It just starts with you and a change in mindset. Keeping the end in mind specifically. So how do we frame that up and make it up happen? Try these seven steps for starters and see how your days start to change.
1. Fail to plan, plan to fail
Almost a cliche at this point, but this statement is so true. Blocking time for “the frog,” and any other have-to-dos, is critical for setting yourself up for success. Putting together an itinerary or schedule may seem like drudgery or gruesome at first, but you’ll thank yourself so much for it. This first step can be done in five to ten minutes, and can end up giving you back hours in your day. Seems like an investment with some great ROI, doesn’t it?
Put the frog you need to consume at the top of the list with some other high priority items. Assign a reasonable (and possibly aggressive) time frame for it and you’ll see how much you can get out of the day with this shift.
2. Create your own stimulus package
Here is probably one of the easiest steps in your efficient day: Defining your incentives. If you have something to look forward to or that you passionately want to work toward, you’re more likely to have the gumption to see it through.
What is it you’re looking forward to that you’d rather be doing? Is it a dessert? A work out? The new season of a series? Or even girls’ night out? Find out what your “stimulus package” is for your day that’s going to keep you motivated. Keep yourself accountable to not grab that donut or remote until you’ve gotten your tasks done for that set time frame. You’ll move a lot quicker when you have positive reinforcement for you waiting on the other side.
3. More chops than a chopped salad
They say variety is the spice of life, so you need to make sure to put some spice on your chopped salad of a day. Finding ways to chop up the day into more easily digestible bits makes it easier to consume. (Do you feel hungry yet?)
If you already know that you just have “a single task” to get through right now, it makes it easier to endure and minimizes the possibility of feeling overwhelmed. When you’re creating your plan and incentives for the day, chopping it up will be the foundation for being able to tackle one thing at a time and keep your rhythm going. You’ll also be able to sneak some of those incentives in between a task or two if you chop it up right.
4. Gas up and go
So, you should actually get started now. The thought of “easier said than done” will often come into play here. But at this point, you need to summon all your willpower possible to actually make things happen now.
Fuel up the tank with reminders of how your day will actually go. You just need to get past this one task. After that, is a small break, or an overpriced coffee, waiting for you. Take things one thing at a time. You’ll find it easier to get yourself to make it through the day if you focus on the one thing and tell yourself you just need to get this done. When you start with the hardest or biggest task for the day, everything pales in comparison. You’ll find it to be smooth sailing from there. So fill up and get to moving, already!
5. Inhale, exhale
Make time to breathe in between those chops. Breaking up the day with shifts and changes is great. However, you also need to give yourself a moment to breathe. Don’t go shopping for two hours or take an extended nap in the middle of the day, but giving yourself five minutes here and there is highly beneficial.
Use this time to process, decompress and prep yourself for the next shift. But don’t forget to distract yourself a little with something non-work related in some of those breaks, too.
6. Allow the interruption
It’s going to happen. Your boss will need a new report. Your child will come running in requesting a snack. The dog might be throwing up in the corner of the room.
Breathe, make time for it and move on. Make sure to get to a good stopping place with what you were working for so you don’t come back to something disheveled that will leave you flustered upon return. These kinds of things are human and natural, especially when you’re responsible for other lives. Don’t get angry or resentful toward them since they’re a part of life – address them as quickly as possible and then move on. There might be a great learning opportunity to take away from it hidden in the mess.
7. Celebration station
Celebrate the wins. All of them. Life is too short to not give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. If you don’t toot your own horn every now and then, who will? Life is stressful. Work is stressful. Parenting is stressful. But there’s also so much joy and reward that comes from all of them.
If all you choose to focus on is the stress and downfalls, what kind of life are you setting yourself up for? Notice the wins and take time to celebrate, even if it’s just getting that one task done.
We’re full of cliches over here today, but life is what you make of it. You can choose to have day after day, feeling mundane and like you’re never progressing. Or, you can choose to make something better out of it. If your days are feeling arduous and like you’re never accomplishing what you need to (or in a timely manner), make changes. Try these steps out and see how the end of those responsibilities are closer than you think.