How to Start Prioritizing Your Time

I kicked off this week by writing about procrastination and how to combat it. Then, on Tuesday, I experienced about half a day of that. I skipped my workout, layed around in my pajamas, watched Ricky and Morty, did a sink load of dishes, and chipped away at relentless loads of laundry. Although important to get the laundry and dishes taken care of, I could’ve spent the in-between time writing more articles, creating more content, or watching some tutorials on branding.

Ahh, but alas, we are merely mortal works in progress.

So, I forgave myself for the lazy day (deeming it self-care) and decided to share a little bit about prioritizing our time and how to start implementing a plan for success.

The first thing I’ve realized is that it’s best to create a few categories for your tasks, ie. urgent, important, not important. There’s actually a chart you can make and put on any visible surface that you can access here. I find it incredibly helpful when I’m trying to choose which category my projects or chores fit into. Emily at Loved for Always shared this chart below on her site and it offers a preview of its practical application:

 

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So figuring out what your most pressing tasks and deadlines are (ie. things will go terribly wrong if you don’t do this) is the priority. Then you work from there. Consider what things will have consequences for not doing, such as replying to work emails or setting up a dentist appointment for that cavity you discovered, then move onto what will bring you closer to success and a sense of accomplishment in reaching your goals.

Admittedly, I don’t use the chart the way it is shown above, but I do apply the same ideas. I make a to-do list that I rank by numbers, one being the most important and pressing task that I MUST GET DONE TODAY, NO EXCUSES – all the way to the most menial, around fifteen or twenty. That way, I can get all of my projects, ideas, and tasks down on paper so they aren’t floating around in my head distracting me. It takes some effort, but I find that if I do it the night before, I get a better quality of sleep because I don’t have 50 different things running through my brain. You can always add to the list, and having a to-do list filled with crossed off tasks is just so satisfying.

Play around with it and do what works for you. Maybe you’re already a master prioritizer, in which case, my hat’s off to you. If not, explore different ways of approaching your to-do list and feel free to share which approach kept you productive.

 

 

Today’s #MondayMotivation: How to Stop Procrastinating

Photo:@Buynowbitches

Goooood morning, badass people of the world.

It’s Monday, which means the tragic death of your relaxing, probably pumpkin-filled and Netflix watching weekend. So, it’s time for another dose of motivation to get you through this week…or at least this morning.

Since I spent my weekend away from the computer, yet still thinking about how I “should” sit down and create some content for the week, I decided to tackle the most sneaky form of self-sabatoge: PROCRASTINATION.

With so many forms of entertainment at our fingertips, it’s SO easy to get distracted from our original task. Big projects or tasks can feel overwhelming and to tackle one we’ve specifically been avoiding is straight-up anxiety provoking. What really gets me, is that it takes more effort to make excuses for not doing something, rather than simply starting a to-do list.

The tricky thing about procrastination is that we often have a hard time recognizing when we’re doing it. Sometimes it presents itself as “productive procrastination.” Completing less important tasks ie. washing the dishes, deep cleaning the oven, organizing our closet, etc. in favor of the priority tasks. We also rationalize our procrastination by convincing ourselves we need the “perfect” set-up. We wait for the right environment, resources, or inspiration, paralyzing and trapping ourselves in a cycle of avoidance.

It’s the enemy of productivity and robs us of opportunities to feel accomplished and satisfied with how we’ve chosen to spend our time.

So how do we stop this cycle?

Okay, first of all – I have notoriously been a MASTER procrastinator. For years I claimed to want to be a writer more than anything, yet recorded very little about my travels, experiences, and even day-to-day insights. I know firsthand that it is far from easy to change that behavior and form new habits. I also know that you can absolutely do it.

Here are a couple tips I learned along the way.

  1. Be honest with yourself. It’s important to get a sense of what drives us to avoid action that would inevitably lead to our successes. Ask yourself why you’re procrastinating – and tell the truth. Is it because big undertakings create a lot of anxiety and feel too overwhelming? Is it a fear of failure or not being perfect? How about success and fearing an inability to re-create something wonderful? Sometimes it’s having low energy, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or a lack of motivation. Whatever the reason, the more you can understand the underlying issues, the easier it becomes to tackle.
  2. Write and break it down. Creating a visual representation or to-do list of your priority projects will give you a better sense of what needs to be done and in which order. Break them into smaller pieces and start with baby steps. Completing one or two tasks usually offers a sense of relief and accomplishment that motivates us to keep going.
  3. Limit distractions. This goes back to being honest with yourself. If you know that it’s almost impossible to get work or a workout done in your apartment, you need to pack up and head to a nearby coffee shop, gym, or library. If the internet itself is your problem, stay away from seventeen opened tabs and force yourself to stick with the one until that email is drafted.
  4. Use a timer. I’m not joking. Most of us have smartphones, which means you have a clock app and can set timers or alarms. I bought a digital kitchen timer on Amazon because I really struggle with distractions and time management. A timer enables me to chunk out my day, then holds me accountable for completing whatever it is I’m working on within that time period

I know it doesn’t happen overnight, but try starting with one small task and accomplish the shit out of it! It sounds funny, but buying a timer was one of the best things I ever did for my creative projects. It may be something different for you, so feel free to explore what your specific blocks are and how you can support yourself.

This week, let’s commit to productivity!

 

How to Get Healthy & Stop Hating Yourself

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be healthy.

After working in therapeutics and becoming a pseudo-wellness-worshipper who still loves beer and gets irritatingly self-righteous about vegetables, I’ve stumbled across this question multiple times – What does it mean to be healthy?

What I’ve decided is this: It’s not a static state of being. Working towards whole health is a process that spans an entire lifetime. It challenges us to be brutally honest with ourselves when we’re spending too much time at work, distracting ourselves with relationships, drowning ourselves in shitty hipster homebrews or whatever, and bingeing on Netflix, social media, and pizza to avoid reality.

With such a big cultural shift towards a focus on wellness, (and the weird elitism that sometimes exists with that) it’s difficult to avoid the self-imposed guilt or shame that bubbles up when we see “everyone else” succeeding in this area. It gets overwhelming and becomes easier to slip into apathy, making jokes about eating our feelings, rather than admitting regret or disappointment for not taking better care of ourselves. Alternately, I often experience a lot of people taking themselves too seriously with it. JP Sears makes hilarious videos about this:

To me, a healthy lifestyle means choosing to fill your time, body, mind, and soul (if you’re into that last one) with the things that make you feel like the best possible version of you. It means supplementing ourselves with the people, foods, passions, places, information, activities, etc. that nourish and rejuvenate us.

Also, creating a healthy lifestyle feels hard AF.

I still fall into patterns of procrastination and avoidance followed by self-deprecation, eating too much sugar, sleeping too little, neglecting my mental health, and using technology as a buffer between the world and my internal, emotional landscape. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult AF, but it can certainly feel like that along the way.

It also takes A WHILLLEEE to implement. That means we’ve got to be patient with ourselves.

It seemed easy enough a year and a half ago when I promised myself I would commit to a healthier diet, workout regime, and improving my writing after spending a shameful amount of time on Pinterest looking at, “workout motivation quotes.” (Pinterest people -you know what I’m talking about).

In the end, all it took was seeing a photo of me and wondering why I continued to punish myself for being sad, creatively stifled, and out of shape, then punishing myself further by doing nothing to solve it.

That’s what’s tough about trying to establish a healthy lifestyle. We know what we could be doing to improve our situations, but we often fear the painful discomfort that accompanies change. Sometimes we feel unworthy of those things we desire, (happiness/love/success/purpose/connection/fulfillment) or we ignore our inner voice that begs us to be kinder to ourselves. It’s hard sh*t to overcome and ultimately, we are the only ones who can take control of it.

It took me over a year to lose eighteen pounds, prioritize a budget for healthy foods into my monthly spending, cook regularly, and unplug from social media more often. It wasn’t until the last six months that I truly committed to fully paying off my debt, moved out of my parent’s house, and started saving for a new car. It was only in the last month that I’ve implemented (almost) daily meditations and started a productivity journal.

And you know what? Things feel better. I feel better. Not just about my body, or my finances, or my creativity, but about who I am.

Working out regularly gave me a tremendous confidence boost (with an added bonus of a higher ass). Eating healthily gave me more energy to do the things I love and – because the food is so expensive – opened the door to a new hobby and encouraged me to grow a garden. Committing to my writing has increased my self-esteem and motivation to succeed. Putting money in the bank created a sense of security I rarely (if ever felt) since graduating college and living on my own.

But it didn’t happen overnight, not even close, and it would’ve been incredibly unfair to myself to expect anything more. Striving for a healthier lifestyle was really hard at first, and I wanted to give up A LOT. So many times I would’ve rather crawled back into bed than hit the gym, had four awesome beers instead of one, and eat PB & honey sandwiches at 10:30 pm and possibly die rather than cook after a double shift.

I’m not sharing this sh*t to impress anyone. In fact, there are WAYYYYY more healthy people than me out there. (Which is SO awesome). I’m saying it because the benefits of pursuing a healthy life are real and they’re what we really need right now.

Decide what being healthy means to you. Start small, with even one change you can make in your day to day life that makes you feel good. Most importantly, be patient with yourself – Rome wasn’t built in a day and your soon-to-be fine-as-f*ck self may not either, but it’s absolutely worth the investment.

If you’re looking for more resources on whole health and wellness, my girl Molly has got your back. Check out what she’s up to here. If bodywork/massage are more up your ally, Kate has got you covered.

You’re Going to Get Rejected

 

I want to tell you the world is wonderful and you’ll always be celebrated for the exceptional, unique butterfly your mother thinks you are. I’m not really a liar though, so I’m going to tell you that’s bullshit. No matter how extraordinary you think you are, (or how much your parents shield you), you’re going to get rejected so many times. In every capacity…and it never stops sucking.

The thing that makes rejection particularly painful is that when we are overlooked, we have a tendency to equate our worth with someone else’s measure or opinion of who we are. It negates our inherent, fundamental need to feel that we belong. We take it deeply personal, as if this rejection symbolizes our unworthiness as a person and what we’re able to offer. Rather than using it as insight and working on self-improvement, or recognizing that this particular rejection is about them and their preferences, we tend to close ourselves off to future risk-taking and vulnerability.

That being said, rejection certainly has its place. It serves to create healthy competition and drives our desire for self-improvement and achievement, creating a “thick skin” – ie. we can do better next time. It humbles us, providing oftentimes painful, yet necessary opportunities to develop resilience and challenges us to self-examine…things that are unavoidable on the road to success.

At the risk of sounding like a sad loser, I cannot even recall the overwhelming amount of times I’ve been rejected – in love and friendships, in my writing, and in any other areas of relative importance. However, I’m not embarassed to admit that I’ve written boring, terrible content or cringe-ily thrown myself haphazardly at aloof, uninterested men. All of my rejections have served to push me towards a deeper understanding of myself,  broader self-awareness, and a higher quality of writing. Oh, and also, lots of melodramatic, ugly weeping on my bedroom floor.

In order to get over a big rejection, feel that shit. Feel devastated, disappointed, sad, and apathetic about everything. Give yourself space to experience the loss of an idealistic outcome. Then, get back on the bandwagon. It can be difficult to navigating the delicate balance between allowing rejection to be a grain of salt, and extracting new knowledge from it. Try not to dwell because the more you can accept rejection as simply a part of life, the quicker you will recover from its sting.

My favorite thing in the world, The School of Life has (of course!) an awesome video on how to recover from rejection, specifically from a relationship. Check it out:

 

#MondayMotivation: Balance

Hey, beautiful creatures out there!

Last week kicked ass – and sort of didn’t. I was able to accomplish a ton, while alternatively suffering the gory realities of being a lady. Regardless of my PMS meltdowns and dramatic episodes, I’m #COMMITTED to this idea of staying consistent. So here’s another article. This week’s focus is:

BALANCE!

Although not in the way you may think. I don’t mean in the grounded, yoga way (although that way is awesome). Instead, I’m going to skip being new age-y about it and try to be less extreme and more balanced in my views.

There’s a lot of politicizing about literally EVERYTHING right now. Which means we’re going to encounter a lot of alienating lines in the sand.

Maybe we could just do this thing called listening.

We’ve got to commit to critical thought and a continuous search for truth and understanding, because the more we divide, the less we’re able to relate to one another and change the parts of the system we don’t like or agree with.

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This week, I’m going to read things I normally wouldn’t, investigate sources I don’t necessarily question

all that deeply, and examine my own biases in the way I percieve the world. The more we’re able to challenge our own views, the less affected and

defensive we are when someone disagrees with our way of seeing things. Things are getting pretty serious out there, so let’s try to regroup and rethink some of our deeper held beliefs.

See you next week!

 

 

 

Why Perfectionism Will Crush Your Soul

Can I just start by saying, f*ck perfectionism?

That evil, the little goblin is my most compulsive addiction. It’s a specific variety of masochism for which many of us assume we experience privately, in the confinement of our own minds.

Except for we don’t. Raise your hand if you want to be perfect, but know you never will be, so you distract yourself with food and Netflix and cry silent tears of inadequacy into your pizza.

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@Aparnapkin knows what’s up

Haha, what? Definitely not me…

Here’s the thing. Perfectionist tendencies do not remain hidden in the secrecy of our internal experience. They bleed into every aspect of our lives. They quietly emerge in the form of unbelievably high expectations for our romantic partners, inflexible standards of acceptable behavior for others, and most agonizingly, constant, restless murmurs of the unrelenting inner critic, compelling us to strive ever upward.

That motherf*cker never pauses to acknowledge our immense efforts or extraordinary accomplishments.

It’s a ravenous little creature, demanding more than you could ever possibly deliver, never retreating, perpetually judging, perusing for mistakes or defects.

Prepare yourself: this is about to get dark.

It drives you to a distinct form of self-hatred, deteriorating your self-esteem and once sufficient self-worth in an insatiable effort to attain the unattainable.

Maybe the most dangerous attributes of perfectionism are its abilities to paralyze you while simultaneously encouraging you to compare yourself to others, convincing you that you’re never going to be good enough.

If you, like myself, prefer a specific and equally as unfortunate variety of mental torture, over-thinking, you’re regularly assuming failure or an inability to measure up, sabotaging each new creative venture before it begins, driving you to waste countless hours thinking, yet never doing.

I have spent weeks strategically avoiding my writing in an effort to silence the demands of burgeoning ideas sprouting in my brain because I didn’t think they were good enough, or that I would fail to get it just right, or worst of all that frankly, they were not worth reading.

There’s nothing wrong with an appetite for success. In fact, purpose, drive, and ambition beget progress. It’s when we get carried away, becoming obsessive and unforgiving of our failings, demanding greater and greater returns. We manage to squeeze every last drop of joy and satisfaction from our pursuits, robbing ourselves of the fulfillment and peace of mind we gain from a job well-done.

The reality is, we are all deeply flawed creatures. Nothing we will ever do is going to be perfect, which means we’re forced to become comfortable with the idea of, “good enough.” We’re all familiar with the old cliche, “You are your harshest critic.” So give yourself permission to reimagine your definition of success…and of joy and contentment for that matter. What does success mean to you? You already know my main squeeze The School of Life has your back in this video:

But seriously, does everything really need to be perfect in order for you to relax into any given moment and enjoy it? Dude, sometimes the answer is, “YES! I CANNOT RELAX UNTIL I HAVE CONTROL OVER EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE.” That’s okay too, we aren’t perfect, remember?

Also, stop comparing yourself to other people. I’m mostly saying that to myself as I’ve had to practice #latergram for a while. Take a breather from social media, step away from the never-ending stream of superficial messages that confirm you’re somehow falling behind.

You are not other people, you are yourself – with your own story. Your miserable and marvelous experiences, heartaches, dreams, and triumphs are uniquely your own. There is no real room for true, objective comparison when it comes to measuring our successes against the achievements of others, so allow yourself room to fail, learn, and grow.

Why You’re Destined to Settle in Love

You’re probably not going to like this very much, but I can say with certainty that if you choose to love someone, you will settle…and that’s not a bad thing.

Whether you’re willing to admit or refuse to accept the reality of personal imperfection, on some level, we will all settle. I realized this after a number of failed relationships and cringe-worthy breakups, finally arriving at a partner who I love deeply…and at the saddening, yet bizarrely comforting realization that no one is ever going to be my “perfect match.”

Let me explain.

Aloneness is our natural state. We come in alone, leave alone, and so it goes…you know the adage. However, relationships of any kind often serve to cloak this reality and quell our longing, bringing fulfillment, meaning, and purpose to our private alcoves of inner emptiness. We seek partners in an effort to feel seen, accepted, and most importantly, truly understood. We are convinced that the sign of a worthwhile partner is one who can read our minds and understand our inner world without aid.

That’s why I decided to stop listening to idealistic and good-intentioned, yet delusional advice. Because no one inherently knows what you like or don’t like, what your boundaries are, what behaviors make you uncomfortable and are intolerable, how you best feel loved, or what your values are.

Those things must be taught, which challenges you to approach love with vulnerability, honesty, patience, and the overwhelming humility it takes to surrender the entitlement you feel around what you “should” be receiving. To remain committed, we enter an agreement with the understanding that we will consistently be required to play the role of both teacher and pupil.

For years, I was convinced that potential partners weren’t good enough because they didn’t already know how to be amazing boyfriends, hadn’t already guessed my moods, or understood what I was trying to say with my actions rather than open conversations.

Over and over again, I would see articles riddled with a naive romanticism that encouraged me “never to settle” and to only date someone when or if they demonstrated X, Y, or Z behaviors on this dangerous and imaginary, “list.” I preemptively placed conditions and restrictions on potential lovers before I’d met them. I walked away from promising opportunities for superficial reasons. You, like me, then begin the endless search for that person who will somehow make sense of the perpetually lonely and confusing human condition.

If that’s the formula you rely on to seek a partner, good luck. You will most likely end up unhappily committed or dissatisfied…because love and compatibility just don’t work that way.

The School of Life has an amazing video that helps demonstrate our ideals about love:

Love requires us to privately mourn our high ideals and expectations surrounding love. It forces us to grieve our bitter disappointments and begs us to forgive others for not being what we wish they were, or exactly what we need at any given moment. When you’re rigid in love and convinced that a person who doesn’t already know your mind is a dud, you’re in for a long, lonely road of regretful realizations.

This is not to say we are destined for a life of unending suffering and aloneness. Nor is it an encouragement to remain in an abusive, demoralizing, or completely loveless and miserable relationship. It is to stress that we have to reimagine the means by which we evaluate potential partners, their strengths and weaknesses, and our personal tolerance for those aspects of others that drives us crazy.

If we remain exceedingly unsettled by the possibility that we – the most special human we know – would ever arrive at a partner who is anything less than perfect, we view compromise as a shameful weakness. We refuse to entertain a more mature and truthful way of perceiving it – that to be with another person is to be consistently challenged to accept and forgive each other’s less desirable qualities, flaws, and failures, while celebrating the parts we do love, maintaining a definitive boundary between togetherness and separation.

It’s time to free ourselves from the cycle of demanding perfection, refusing to explain what we’re truly looking for, then bitterly wondering why we’re alone. Allow others to surprise you and recognize that sometimes it’s okay to be generous with second chances. No love story will ever endure if you’re kicking someone to the curb every time they make a mistake or display weakness.