Do you ever sit down to work and freeze because feel like you have WAY too much to do? Or feel overwhelmed by all of the creative ideas swirling in your head? I’ve been there! In today’s episode, I’m going to share my favorite (and simple) productivity kick start that I use all the time so you can get back to work and have those days where you are crossing things off left and right!
A few months ago, I was sitting on my bed with my laptop ready to work. I was surrounded by notebooks and checklists, I had a cup of ginger tea steaming nearby. I should have been settling in to knock out my massive to-do list. Instead, I was totally stuck.
At the time I was working on two client branding projects, but I was also finishing up the redesign and launch of my own website, Splendidly Curious.com. AND this podcast was already in the works and ready to move forward to the next phase. PLUS I had this idea for a new email opt-in guide….OH and this course I’ve been dying to teach…OH and there’s this article someone had sent me on the impact of meditation on the creative process…and I really sould clean out my desk…and…
Well you get the idea.
So I froze. And I had that awful feeling of minutes ticking by while I wasted them unable to figure out WHAT to do.
That’s when my Lean Husband walked in.
Now, I call him my Lean Husband (his name is Adam), not just because he happens to be a thin guy, though he is the kind of guy that can eat gas station taquitos on the regular and never gain a pound! But also because he is a certified Lean Process Engineer. That means part of his job is to help plants in manufacturing industry run more efficiently, boost productivity, and look for continuous ways to improve.
He took one look at me and my obvious overwhelm and asked if he could help.
I’m so glad he did because the process he taught me that day is one I come back to all the time. And I’ll share it with you right now.
Basically, creators, when we get into this state, we’ve got to do a mini brain retraining to get our minds to remember how to focus. Think of it this way: when you have a million things on your list, your brain makes space for a million things. SO the best thing to do is to pick ONE task and focus hard until it’s completed so your brain can send all its resources to just that one thing. This allows you to be far more productive AND your brain gets that little dopamine hit when you check the item off your list as completed. Just like a dog getting a treat for good behavior, your brain sees that dopamine reward and wants to keep up the productivity so it can be rewarded again.
And NOW you’re on the path to a truly productive day.
Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you pick the thing that gets the kick start going?
Here’s what I do:
- I start with a brain dump. Grab some paper and a pen (walk away from the screen for a moment), set a timer for 5 minutes, and write down every single thing that comes to mind for you. No censoring. It can be a dinner recipe or an idea for a client or an update you want to make to your own website….literally anything that’s taking up space in your brain. This is going to give you immediate relief by acknowledging everything that’s swirling around in your mind, and reassuring yourself that you aren’t forgetting anything. It’s all down on paper, even if you choose not to tackle it right now.
- After the brain dump, look it over and circle or star the tasks that are jumping out as important or urgent right now.
- A quick note about important vs. urgent. Normally, I like to differentiate between these two. Important are big tasks that move your business or your client project forward- they usually have been planned out and are essential to the operation of your business. Urgent refers to the things that are trying to get your attention RIGHT NOW- things that might have just sprung up, something time sensitive, an unplanned client emergency…those kind of things. Now normally I’d advise you to look past the urgent to the important…but in this case, picking an urgent task is fine! Anything that is jumping out as the place you want to start today will work!
- And one more stipulation- the task you’re picking should be something that can be completed in about an hour. This is how long it takes to get your brain back on track. You want to be able to cross it off your list at the end of the hour, so nothing huge for right now.
- Once you’ve got your item chosen, dive in. For one hour, no distractions- tell yourself that notifications, text messages, other projects can all wait until that hour is over. Get your brain focused by using something like brain.fm in your earbuds. Have a notepad nearby as an “idea parking lot” to capture any stray and distracting ideas that wander into your mind during this hour, assuring yourself that just because you aren’t acknowledging them now, doesn’t mean they disappear. You can simply come back to them later. And enjoy the hard work of getting down to business.
- When the hour is up, you get to celebrate! Make sure you check this item off your list- Lean Husband says that actually crossing it off the list with pen and paper triggers a physical reward in your body and mind- but doing something to signify that you’ve set a goal and accomplished a task is essential.
Finally- this is important to keep the momentum going- while you are still in brain-focus mode, pick your next task, what you’re going to tackle next in your day. After all, the kick start is just the beginning- now that you’ve trained your brain to be in the mode of tackling that one thing and proven you can do it, now you don’t have to spend so much time overriding it for the rest of the day. Before you move on, you can take a break, get some coffee stretch, but take advantage and get back to work and enjoy your super brain power that you’ve harnessed.
Come over to the How To Create private community on Facebook to continue the and share if this productivity kick start works for you!
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