One of the best pieces of advice I have in terms of productivity is to break it down. There’s nothing more confronting than a huge to-do list, especially when it includes things like, “WRITE CHAPTER”. That’s not helpful to anyone, Witches.
When we have full schedules and full lists of sh*t to do, it can be incredibly overwhelming. What happens when we get overwhelmed? We panic, we don’t do any of it, and we binge watch an entire season of something on Netflix or Prime. Then it starts that awful cycle of guilt, more panic, more sh*t to do, a longer list, and more binge-watching. We stop sleeping. We start panicking. Our anxiety gets worse and nothing gets done – all while the list keeps growing.
Bite-size pieces are the key. Instead of telling yourself to write a chapter of your thesis/book/novel, break that chapter down into tasks.
Working with Pomodoro
The Pomodoro Technique breaks tasks and working down into short bursts of around 25 minutes. It goes like this: you set the timer for 25 minutes, and you do nothing but focus on one task for that 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, you take a 5 minute break, and then you do it again. The idea is that you will get more done in these focused blocks of time without the distraction of your phone or TV or the internet. When we break things down into manageable sections of sh*t to do, we are more able to achieve those tasks. That, in turn, leads to us actually being able to tick sh*t off the list, which makes us feel like we are achieving, which then makes us feel good, which makes us more driven to do more sh*t.
For me, as a bullet journaller, I like to pre-plan my tasks. For example, if I need to read a book on case studies (ahem), I don’t just write, “read book” on my list. I break it down into chapters, figure out how many chapters I can read in 25 minutes, and then allocate accordingly. Then I prep some little boxes in my bujo so I can colour them in when I’ve done each Pomodoro section. See? That way, you can physically see progress.
It’s the same principle as tracking your likes on Instagram, or keeping a chart of your savings. When you can see progress, it drives you. It makes you yearn for more progress. It makes us feel accomplished and warm and fuzzy.
Take a big job that has been hanging over your head, something from your Fear List (more on this another day). Look at the job and break it up into its different parts. For example, say your goal was to get your driver’s licence.
Task 1: find out steps to get licence (1 Pomodoro)
Task 2: Fill out paperwork (1 Pomodoro)
Task 3: Schedule driving lessons (1 Pomodoro)
Task 4: Work out cost of licence (1 Pomodoro)
Task 5: Study handbook (6 Pomodoros)
And so on.
In this way, you can see visually your progress and you can visualise yourself getting closer to having your licence. Colour in your progress blocks or tick off a list or give yourself a sweet for each Pomodoro you complete – whatever it is that works for you. Encourage yourself – make it easier for yourself.
Being overwhelmed can lead to not getting anything done, and that makes you feel sh*tty about yourself. Don’t feel sh*tty. You are a badass Boss Witch, and you’ve got this.
What are your productivity hacks?