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The 3 Step Productivity Slump Reversal

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The 3 Step Productivity Slump Reversal

    I’m blissfully basking in my productive flow; last week was spent de-cluttering. From the cellar to the attic; it all got the treatment. The mice no longer have a place to hide and the dust mites go hungry. After a spout of qualifying for numerous awards such as good housekeeper of the year, most generous charity donor and recycling Queen, the clear house, office and mind give way to positive things. Firstly I feel good, I feel light, clear and in control, but more importantly in one way or another getting organized and taking control leads to a more productive and creative me.

    Step 1: De-clutter your space

    The week prior to my eclectic productive state, I was low, I had fallen off the wagon, my creative juices were absent and I had forgotten what were the productivity beliefs I wholeheartedly agreed to. But then there was a shift. It started by revisiting my goals. I reminded myself of the things that I want from my life. I thought of the goals that excite me; the ones that challenge me and I repeated to myself all the reasons why I want to achieve them.

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    Step 2: Remind Yourself of your Goals

    Next I took restock of my positive habits, the yoga and meditation that calm and clear my mind, the exercise that invigorates me, and the healthy food that nourishes my body. I do have good habits but it wasn’t always this way.

    My youth was chaotic. I liked to refer to the chaos as spontaneity and I clung to this title for many years feeling like it represented my “Libertad”. Throughout the years and with each additional offspring I reluctantly adopted routines and habits to help assist me with my parenting, then gradually in my career and throughout my life.

    Step 3: Re-engage Positive Habits

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    What I discovered was that spontaneity and living life without the structure of routines may be fine when backpacking across Australia but try to run a household, a business, have meaningful relationships, study, write, exercise, meditate with this attitude. And that’s just Monday’s tasks!

    I’m afraid I only know one way, and that way involves systems, routines and good positive habits!

    Go with the Flow

    Please don’t get me wrong. If opportunity comes knocking and the change to do something out of the routine, away from the norm, I’ll go all in and happily break the routine to feel the freedom and wind in my hair. Having children can regularly induce this state of non-conformity; I make my plans and set my goals and BAM! Someone is sick and needs their mama. Or someone is bored and needs a playmate. Or someone is naughty and invades ones workspace.

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    These are the times you use Branson’s words and say, “screw it let’s do it” and I get an opportunity to be spontaneous again.

    So what am I saying?

    I’m saying it’s ok to break the rules and go with the flow of the moment, but then what? Then jump right back on that wagon with your goals set and your positive habits installed. It’s a lot easier to get back on track after life throws a curve-ball or a little marble of interruption in your day when you have your goals and habits to support you. Strive for your goals but don’t forget to be present and smell the roses every once in awhile. This will ensure that you achieve what you want to achieve as well as enjoy the journey.

    In Summary: Productivity Slump Reversal

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    1. De-clutter. A clean sweep will always get things going in the right direction.

    2. Remind yourself of your goals and why you want to achieve them.

    3. Re-engage positive habits that support and encourage you.

    Life is the journey people, don’t forget to enjoy each day.

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    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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