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Have you ever found yourself being sucked into an activity you know is a waste of time? Have you ever reemerged after hours of binging on Netflix and pondered how you could have wasted all that time? After the realization, do you feel a sense of guilt and frustration? Do you mourn the loss of time you could have been using to complete other tasks? You are absolutely not alone. I find myself immensely frustrated at the mesmerizing power of video streaming services. I will make a plan to be super productive that day, and then five hours later, I've completed barely anything except watching 5 episodes of whatever show I have sold my soul to. I then enter the cycle or anxiety and sulking trying to hurriedly get something accomplished to feel successful. I cannot be the only one, right? If you, like me, find yourself sucked into this drudging cycle, here is a list of ways I have found to avoid this rut and unlock productivity.
1) Sort out what is wasting your time.
Netflix, YouTube, SnapChat, binge reading, whatever it is, figure out what you are spending all your time doing. This is sort of the recognizing the problem is the first step to healing phase. Evaluate to strategize. If you don't know what you are wasting your time doing, look at your Netflix history, YouTube time watched, or count how many chapters (or books) you have read. If you are still lost, I can't help you.
2) Clear the clutter.
If you are anything like me, a messy house impedes your ability to focus and be productive. Take a look around—is there a pile of shuffled paper bothering you? Maybe a pile of laundry? Stockpiled mail? Perhaps some generational hand me down possessions? Regardless of the contents of the mess, clutter can seriously clog the flow of productivity and creativity. It serves as a buffer especially for those who are easily stressed or distractible. If you find yourself wallowing in old receipts or dirty laundry, unearth yourself and see if it helps you feel less stressed and more focused.
3) Set realistic boundaries and goals.
Alright, now that you have figured out the time sucker and cleared the clutter from your life, it is now time to set some realistic boundaries and goals. The boundaries apply to the time-wasting activities. Set parameters. If it is is YouTube, activate the timer feature that gives you an alert when you've watched for a set amount of time. Set a timer for reading or only allow yourself to watch one episode of a Netflix show. Now, the goal setting applies to productivity levels. Instead of jumping into being 1000% productive and suffering burn out, take it slow. Make manageable and simple goals that can be progressed upon. If it helps, make a to-do list and write it down. This will help to physically manifest responsibilities and not leave them swirling around your mind causing stress.
4) Pick a priority.
Time wasters have been limited and goals have been set! Now is the time to pick a priority. STOP, WAIT. Before you get overwhelmed looking at all the things on your list, PRIORITIZE. Take a look. Is there anything on the list that is an immediate flaming problem? Are there items on the list that need to be completed before others? Yes? Good, move the most immediate item to the number one thing to accomplish. Continue organizing the to-do list by priority. This will help to organize and make it more manageable, avoiding the overwhelmed, freak out state.
5) Find an accountability partner.
Just like police officers have a partner for backup when embarking on a new journey or undertaking a hard task, we need back up. Having someone to keep you accountable can help you to stay on track. This person can be a family member or friend. This person is supposed to be there for you and make sure you stay on your feet and accomplish your goals. They are your life partner and are there to support and encourage your endeavors. Communicate to this person your goals and struggles, and have them consistently check in on you in order to keep you on track.
6) Give yourself grace and care for yourself.
On this new journey to productivity, there will be ups and downs. If there is a moment of regression, don't freak out, this will happen. Take a deep breath, regroup, communicate with your accountability partner. Do something to get back on track: take a walk, make some tea, do some yoga, something to refocus. In the journey to productivity, make sure you find time to do some serious self-care. Find something truly relaxing: lighting candles, going for a run, listening to music, something nourishing. (Television doesn't count because it is just a mask.)
7) Seek professional help if needed.
Along the road, it may be advantageous to seek some professional help. Binge watching may be a side effect of depression and a psychiatrist can help with coping and offer aid where a friend may be uneducated. Reaching out to a professional is never something be ashamed of. Everyone needs help. Getting that help is incredibly wise and responsible. Finally, remember that you are amazing and capable of amazing things!