After a lo-o-ong post yesterday about the myriad ways I sabotage my life and work, I promised you some strategies to overcome the problem.
So, here they are: the top tips I’ve found that really work to stop sabotage in its tracks, before it’s even had the opportunity to raise its head.
- Prepare your day right at the start – or even the previous evening if you can.
Being ready to start prevents the procrastination bug from getting a grip. Set the tasks you particularly want to accomplish at the head of your ‘to-do’ list. Don’t over-schedule, because that will knock the energy straight out of you.
Keep it simple – no more than 2 or 3 actions that really call to you (Oceana said yesterday that activities need to seduce her if they want to get done – what a great way to look at it. Thanks, Oceana).
- Know your why.
See the bigger picture. Keep your eyes on your big vision, the one you’re going after, the one it’s all too easy to avoid. Knowing why you’ve placed an action before you is half the battle in actually getting to work.
- Know your rhythms, your energies, your flow, and work with them.
Whether your optimum creative time is at the start of the day, or in the twilight hours, plan your activities to coincide with it. I’m a night owl, no matter how much I want to be an early morning lark, and I find it easier to think and dream in the soft peace of evening than I do in the harsh light of day. Do whatever works best for you. And if you don’t know yet, experiment. Try different times of day to see when you’re freshest and most inspired.
- Know your triggers!
If boredom has you heading for the cheeseboard, then make sure you fill your time with activities that nourish your soul. Or don’t buy cheese! Or if you’re sitting at your computer, facing a blank screen (and haven’t we all done that from time to time), and you find your mouse hovering over the Freecell icon again, get up from your desk, grab your notebook, and write down one thing you can do now that will get you started. It could be a snippet of dialogue, or an idea to research, just something that will move you forward this very moment. Because, often, the hardest thing is just to BEGIN!
- Be disciplined.
I know. If you could just do it, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. I understand. But discipline’s a habit, which means it can be learned. And, like every habit, we learn by doing. So, don’t get distracted: don’t check your email 50 times a day, don’t open Facebook or Twitter and lose yourself in their labyrinthine corridors until lunchtime. Allocate different times for those activities – when you can afford a little ‘down time’ to be entertained, or educated, or just be sociable.
- Get intentional.
Enrol an accountability buddy if you need that kind of support. Let them help you. Just don’t let them control you!
Respect yourself. Respect your time. Respect your work. Place markers around your time, and really show up! You wouldn’t commit to helping your child with his school project and then not show up, would you? You wouldn’t arrange to do a grocery run for your elderly mother and then just not go, would you? So why do you do it to yourself? You’re every bit as important as they are – not more, but definitely not less!
Value yourself. There are plenty of willing helpers who’ll direct your day for you if you let them. Some people seem to think they exist for exactly this purpose. And, believe me, they’ll gravitate towards you if you allow them a little leeway. Make sure you’re in charge of your day. Take back control!
Honour yourself. Invest in balance. By balancing your fuel/energy/rest ratio, you’re able to function at optimum levels, meaning you’re moving through your day on target, on purpose, and on fire!
So, go on. Let’s show the same love for ourselves that we have for those around us. Let’s get rid of these self-sabotaging habits and start living with FIRE!