I’m having one of those days. Do you know the kind I mean?
I’m having the kind of day where I spiral into the cycle of self-judgement followed by buffering followed by more self-judgement followed by more buffering and on and on.
It’s not exactly productive. I didn’t write the blog post I wanted to finish writing and I didn’t record the video I wanted to record for my lead magnet.
However, I had a therapy session this evening in which I remembered a strategy I’ve used in the past that’s really helped me to be more productive and manage my urges to distract myself.
So I wanted to share those strategies today. There are three aspects to it.
Manage Urges to Distract Yourself
If you’re at all familiar with the work of the Life Coach School, you are probably familiar with the urge work we do over there.
If you’re not familiar, the idea is to allow urges.
The way I use urge work for productivity is to use what’s called an urge jar.
Really, it’s just a jar with some glass beads. You could use any container with any type of smaller something to do this.
What I do is whenever I have the urge to go off my calendar and do something other than the task at hand, I process the urge and stay on task. After about ten minutes, I reward myself for staying on task by putting a glass bead in my jar.
It might seem overly simple.
But it works.
And the reason it works is because the brain is wired for rewards.
That’s why social media can be so distracting. It’s literally built to rewire our brains to keep checking it.
It’s kind of a brain hack, but when we process the urge and redirect our brains to stay on task, we get the dopamine hit that comes with the reward of the bead, and we get the wanted result of completing the task at hand.
Take Frequent Breaks
When I quit my job and started working on my business, I decided that I would maintain my 8-4 pm work schedule.
Which was great.
Except that working eight hours is a fucking long ass time.
It’s a long time to focus on anything.
I can’t do it. (I know, optional T)
I “can’t do it” because my brain wants to go into checking mode – checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, Slack, all-of-the-things.
So I decided that I would take frequent breaks.
I set my watch alarm to go off every hour between 8 am and 4 pm on the 0:25 and the 0:55 and I give myself a five minute break.
The reason this works is because when I’m working, I can redirect my brain to the thought that I will get a break in 25 minutes or less.
It works beautifully.
Break Projects Down
This is super important and I’m still learning how to do this.
I learned this from Lauren Cash at Vivere Co.
The idea is to break projects down into the smallest pieces as possible.
That way your brain can’t argue or get confused about where to start or what it’s supposed to be doing or whether you’ve completed the thing or not.
“Write blog post” is a lot bigger and amorphous than “Write a three point outline” or “Design a Facebook graphic.”
Be Kind to Yourself
I said there were three aspects but there’s a fourth that I just realized today.
The reason the cycle exists is because of your thoughts.
Those thoughts cause feelings you’re unwilling to feel and so we buffer or escape into false pleasures like social media, in my case.
So the solution is to have compassion for yourself and to be kind to yourself.
Yeah, maybe easier said than done, but I’m willing to learn how to do that.