health

Procrastination Nation: How to Boost Your Productivity Without Burning Out


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Happy December everyone!

It has been a little (LONG) while since I’ve been back. I apologize for the radio silence – there’s no easy explanation; however, I would be lying if I pretended that I haven’t been dominated by my “to-do” list. You don’t have to be in medicine to have experienced the pure chaos of running from task to task to task. Between work, appointments, research, house work, and studying it can feel like a small miracle to have eaten lunch some days! When life gets busy, it can be hard to maintain a sustainable level of productivity and it becomes all too easy to put off tasks. Although procrastination may feel like a welcome break in the immediate period, usually that feeling doesn’t last long. This past weekend, I had a day where it felt so good to put off all responsibilities – gym? Maybe tomorrow. Emails? Not today’s problem. Grocery shopping? Peanut butter for dinner it is. The next day, I was kicking myself. So I started reflecting on ways I can (and sometimes have) boosted my productivity. Here’s some of my strategies:

Eat and eat well.

I feel like I talk about the importance of proper nutrition every blog and for good reason! You can’t expect to pour yourself into other tasks with any empty cup. In fact, when we’re undernourished, it’s harder to regulate our emotions, concentrate, and practice good decision-making. My go to snack? Right now I’m really loving mixing up some cottage cheese, blueberries, and cashews. Perfect mix to propel me through my to-do list!

Make a list.

It can be really easy to get lost in the chaos of every day life and forget what you actually need to do. Making a list can make your to-do tasks seem much more manageable and concrete. It can also help you subdivide different tasks into smaller steps which might make them appear less daunting. I also find that there’s significant satisfaction which comes with crossing off an item. Check! On to the next one please!

One thing at a time.

Science tells us that multi-tasking may not be as much of a gift as it was originally thought to be. It turns out, we’re more likely to complete tasks efficiently and effectively if we focus on one thing at a time. Furthermore, taking on tasks one by one seems so much more manageable that trying to balance five all at the same time.

Add in some fitness!

Feels like I’m adding another thing to your list right? Wrong! Yes engaging in physical activity is a time commitment, but it doesn’t have to be an hour on the elliptical at the gym. Many of us are aware that engaging in regular physical activity translates into improved mood and energy levels. There’s tons of “sneaky” ways to incorporate physical activity into your day without ever stepping foot into a gym. I like riding my bicycle to work and taking the stairs in the hospital. Youtube is also an awesome resource for a number of different workout videos. Free, accessible, and different lengths – what more could you want?

Practice mindfulness.

To-do lists can seem so tedious. Sometimes I find myself dreaming about the couch waiting for me at the end of it. I found myself thinking one day – how can I reframe my thinking so I’m not just trying to get through X activity and wishing away hours and/or days of my life? Can I take charge and be present in every moment? Living moment by moment makes it easier to find comfort, ease and peace in the present task. It’s not always easy and doesn’t always work. But with practice it becomes less effortful and more consistent.

Try to add some fun wherever you can.

Can you do the activity with a friend? Blast some music in the background? Bring a book while you’re waiting for that doctor who takes forever? Making our tasks a little more enjoyable will make them more tolerable and less likely that they’ll get pushed off until the day after tomorrow (after tomorrow, after tomorrow…).

 

What are your tips for keeping procrastination at bay? I’d love to hear them and share ideas! Comment below.

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