There’s a lot floating around the interwebz on how you can be more productive and use your time better. I find all that stuff fascinating and it’s why I read books about it, along with those articles and blog posts (and OMG, Pinterest. Holy shit is there a lot on Pinterest). I figure I can always do better, be better…self-improvement is never a bad thing. But what I’ve learned more than anything is that knowing yourself is better than following all the advice in the world.
Knowing how you function, when you function best, what motivates you, what keeps you going…that’s the stuff that, at the end of the day, gets your shit done. However, without experimenting, there’s no way to know what works for you and what doesn’t.
How do I know? Because I’ve tried. And what I’ve learned is that many of the go-to tips don’t work for me. For instance:
- Getting up at 5AM. Or some other ungodly hour. I tried to do that. To get up insanely early and be productive in those hours. It lasted about 4 days before I said fuck this and stayed in bed till a reasonable hour. I wound up not getting anything done because I was exhausted and my thoughts kept drifting back to my bed. So now I get up around 6:45 and work in the evenings instead.
- Weekly meal prep. I know many of you swear by it but it doesn’t work for me. By Wednesday I hate everything I’ve made or no one is in the mood for what’s prepared and have you ever tried to force feed a picky 10 year old with an attitude as big as she is? Peanut butter sandwiches only go so far and I can only fight so many battles. So I meal plan for the week and cook daily.
- Freezer meals. Not sure why so much revolves around food but here we are. I guess this falls under my dislike of weekly meal prep but I have done a few freezer meal sessions and OMG it is not worth the effort. Having a few is great in a pinch but I am not a freezer stocker. Not a big stockpiler, either, for what that’s worth. It’s a shit ton of effort and I always mess up something and the dishes. SO MANY DISHES. So, rather than freezer meals, I make sure there are leftovers or, if it’s a complicated recipe like stuffed shells that I’m making anyway, I double and freeze some of that.
- Gratitude journaling. At the risk of sounding like a bitchy asshat, I just can’t get into doing this. I’ve tried with pen and paper and with an app. I simply struggle with writing it down. I frequently reflect on what I’m grateful for but I am not, nor will I ever be, in the daily habit of writing it down. I get the benefits, especially the mental health benefits, but meh. Not for me.
- Eliminating TV. I actually wrote a post once listing a ton of things you can do while watching TV. Because I don’t think we need to demonize TV the way it is in many circles. It’s about striking a balance between how much and when and what else you’re doing but a show a night or a binge watch weekend? Nothing wrong with it at all. And honestly, I’m quite productive most days. That’s right. I watch TV AND I get shit done. Oh, and I read like 80 books a year, too, so you can do both.
- Eat the frog first. I wrote a whole post about this, too, but I don’t eat the frog first. I eat it last because for me, it’s more motivating to get the small, easy, simple, annoying tasks out of the way so I can clear my plate for the big one. Is it satisfying to get the major task done before everything else? Yes. Does it leave me with almost no energy for everything else? Also yes.
I’m sure there’s more but I’m writing this on my phone because I’m too lazy open my laptop and also, you guys get the point. Not all the tips work for all the people so if you’re looking to improve, read all the things and then pick and choose what works for you. Experiment. Manipulate. Track how you feel when doing thing. Check progress and determine if what you’re doing really is worth it. Then make a plan or list and follow that.
What are some popular or conventional tips you forgo?
P.S. Next week I’ll talk about some advice I do follow. #balance