When Life Gets in the Way

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It’s been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where I just can’t seem to get stuff done. I’ve been unfocused and unmotivated and my life has been filled with other things. Work: I work shifts and I’ve been on nights, which is like a time-sucking black hole. Chores: Washing up and dog walking mostly, because that’s all I can fit in around night shifts. And then on those few days off I’ve found myself watching TV instead of being productive. The result? A blog post that’s 14 hours late (and counting), a missed editing deadline (self-imposed, but still…) and a list of chores falling off the page.

But that’s OK.

It’s important to be accountable and responsible for your commitments otherwise you’ll literally never get that novel written, or edited, or any number of other things done. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that sometimes it’s OK to check out for a bit and just watch TV or whatever you do to tune out. Just don’t let it last too long. Beating yourself up over taking a little time out isn’t healthy  and it’s not going to get you back on track.

So what do you do when life trips you up? How do you come back from it?

One of the problems with being in a funk, or slowing down for a while, is that it can be difficult to rediscover your momentum. Working shifts is a sure fire way to disrupt your routine and smash your momentum into little tiny pieces, so I’m no stranger to making a come back.

Step one, in the words of Nike, is to Just Do It. It doesn’t matter what time it is, what day of the week, just pick something you need to do (or should be doing) and get it done. Load the washing machine, do the dishes, write a blog post. It’s important that it’s something easy and it’s important that it’s something productive.

It has to be easy because beating the tune-out is about having momentum and that’s something you have to build. Start small and use the small thing as a springboard to the next thing and the next. When you’ve got moving, don’t stop. Choose tasks that fit around how much time you’ve got. 15 minutes is a quick tidy up, or sorting the laundry and putting a load in the machine. Half an hour does the dishes. An hour can be spent cleaning or, even better, editing.

It’s also important it’s something productive because you don’t want to feed the funk monster. Catching up on your favourite TV show doesn’t count. Neither does reading, unless it’s for work, study or to hit the end of a book. Do the tasks that will give you that little buzz of achievement. Vacuuming the carpet or cleaning the bathroom fits the bill. So does writing a few hundred words or editing a chapter.

Step two, as I alluded to already, is to keep going. I always find that the first few tasks are hard. I never want to do them and I never want to keep going but then I feel good, I feel like I’ve achieved something and I want to keep going. Step two is always about fighting the urge to drop back into your ass-groove on the sofa. Making lists is a good way to keep going. The Bullet Journal has been my cornerstone of productivity for a year now but it doesn’t have to be anything formal, a to-do list works just as well.

Hopefully following my own advice I’m destined for a much more productive week this week.

What about you? How do you come back from down time? How do you generate momentum in your life (writing or otherwise)?

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