You know that you should get going with your work but for some reason, you just simply can’t. As you struggle to even come up with something to do, your anxiety is growing. How to stop this vicious circle of not doing, stressing about not doing, not doing even more? There is a way of getting out though. There are probably many ways. I want to ask you to try my approach. You have nothing to lose anyway.
The steps below will give you a great chance of unlocking your productive potential and providing you with some additional benefits along the way. The first two steps can be accomplished in an hour or two, and surely within a day. The third step will probably take a bit longer, but you can start it immediately of course.
Clean up your computer
There is a chance that turning on your computer is the first thing you do coming to work every morning. You turn it on and see a sea of icons on your desktop, some of them you have no idea what are they there for. You have learned to ignore this mess and quickly move on by opening a browser or an email. Time to clean it up. It’s a hard task to do and will surely give you a sense of accomplishment.
If you are one of the superhumans who don’t have a mess on your computer’s desktop, you can think about your folder structure or email box, whichever mess annoys you more. Cleaning up your computer seems like a silly task, but you will see how much it will improve your functioning.
The tasks we do every day like turning on your computer or checking emails are adding up. Let’s say, it takes you 5 minutes to turn on your computer and open what you need for work. If we add opening and replying to an email, we end up with let’s say half an hour per day, every workday. It gives us 2.5 unpleasant hours a week, 10.75 a month, 129 hours a year. You spend almost one month of your work on turning on your computer and managing your email box. Clean it up, it’s worth it to have one month of a nice experience instead of a miserable one.
If you haven’t already, next you should set up a back up at least the most important of your data. There is nothing more stressful than a chance of losing the fruits of your hard work. If you have an opportunity, set it up so it’s automatic. If automatic set up is not possible, buy a separate external drive you will use specifically for backups.
Now, when you have accomplished two super important tasks, you are ready to move to step 2 of this process of unlocking your productivity:
Clean up your desk
You spend half of your life at work. A big portion of your life is sitting by your desk writing, reading, doodling, thinking. If your desk is cluttered, ugly or straight up dirty, it might be actually not your fault that you can’t focus on your work, who would. Some people say that they don’t care how their desk looks like, but I would argue that they just don’t pay attention. It’s your command center and your tool. If your desk does not support your work, you are losing time and productivity every day.
Set up a timer for one hour, and clean up your desk. Dust it, move or throw away unnecessary things, sort the cables. Think of how to organize the space to make it the most functional or even beautiful and inspiring. Put up photos of nature, your friends or loved ones. Put books and items that motivate you, print out your goal/s or your favorite quote. If you can, put a plant or some flowers. Ordered spaces make it easier to focus, or brain loves order.
Clean up your life
This step is a bit harder as it requires you to analyze yourself a bit (and who likes to be analyzed). Start with asking yourself what are the things you should do, but had no time or willingness to do. Is there any unfinished business to be finished? Write down all the things that will flood your mind. This exercise will allow you to clear your mind from the things that constantly are at the back of your mind adding to your anxiety and creating the tension.
When you have all the things written down, choose the first one (presumably the easiest one) to do and either start doing it straight away (preferably) or schedule it. If it will help you, come up with a price for finishing this task and treat yourself. Whatever it takes to get it done.
After you finish with the first one you have a choice: either do the next one or start doing your work and come back to the list again tomorrow. Having success with cleaning up should give you a sense of accomplishment and a boost of confidence. Start small and follow up with a bigger goal and then the next one and the next one. Eventually, you can build up to do amazing things, the sky is the limit. This process takes time but is very effective.
Additionally, get yourself straight on what is most important for you. Not what you wish would be the most important, but what truly IS. It may be a case that for some reason your work goes against what you really want from your life. On the contrary, if your work is important to you, this realization may make it easier to focus on it.
Let me know how it went in the comments below.