How a Lazy Bitch like me learned to be Productive
I don't know about you, but I've sadly never been able to stick with a productive schedule in the long run, even though I've really wanted to. I'd try to do all the things and then end up breaking my brain and quitting two weeks later. I didn't get it, how on Earth could other people get their productive selves together, and why did I suck so bad at keeping motivated? I thought I was just fucked, that it was something genetic that I would never have, but recently I figured out that people who can 'do it all', aren't immortal perfect beings like I'd secretly suspected. They just have a different system that works even when they aren't motivated.
A couple of months ago, I was a train wreck that ate too many cinnamon rolls and watched Netflix while laying in sweats on the couch. Yesterday, I ran 3 miles, did 40 minutes of yoga, meditated, ate steel cut oats with berries for breakfast, then turned on my favorite business podcast while I showered, all before work started.
And it's almost effortless now. Like, wtf. Have I too become one of those insane Patrick Bateman-like beings that I thought all productive people were a few months ago? How did I finally pull it together? Here's the deal.
All of us can only do a small, small, small amount of hard work per day. I mean new hard work, something we have to actively learn for the very first time vs it being a task that might take a lot of skill, but that's already programmed into us.
Hard work is anything that's not already routine. So, starting a workout program for example, is hard work because we have to break our existing schedules every day until it becomes second nature. Our brains love shortcuts, and we're forcing our minds to take the long route each morning that we introduce this new habit. Plus, we also have to learn how to do the workouts correctly, and that will feel really awkward and will take a lot of concentration over many weeks to get right.
A world-class athlete probably works less than you do if you're just starting out, because even though they're doing things that your body can't even dream of doing right now, it's a habit to them. It's already programmed into their brain what to do, when they'll do it, and how to do it right.
You're working harder than she is.
So what's routine to us, even if it takes a lot of skill, doesn't take as much effort as learning something new for the first time. This is how successful people can do so much highly-skilled work each week; a lot of it is already pre-programmed into the autopilot part of their brain.
Since each new habit is really hard, going 'all-in' causes our brains to overload with too many new things at once, and we burn ourselves out. Let's say I wanted to start writing a daily blog post, working out, and adopt a much healthier diet all at once. My brain still wants to spend an hour on YouTube every night so how does writing fit into my schedule and omg how do even I write again what if I suck and I burned my veggie lasagna bc I've never made it before ouch I think I pulled a muscle this morning because I don't have correct form in my workouts yet and where is my chocolate I want chocolate and... 💥boom💥 after a couple of weeks, it all falls apart and I'm in my underwear watching Love is Blind, face full of potato chips, silently hating myself.
But this year I discovered the lazy bastard approach to productivity.
The lazy bastard approach = add one or two high quality habits each month, and implement them in bite-sized amounts every single day.
My Three Rules:
- I only make one or two habits each month.
- I do them in small quantities every single day the first month- I never push it too hard during the first 30 days, but I also do it every single day, no matter how I feel.
- I never go over my goal for the first month. So if my goal is to write for an hour daily I don't let myself go over one hour/day for the first month. This is to give my brain some peace of mind; if I set consistent expectations with it, then even on the days when I don't want to do my new habit, my brain knows there's a set end time/amount that I won't go over, and it reluctantly agrees.
I give my brain easily attainable, set boundaries that it can stick to for a long period of time. And then my brain actually does the things and doesn't give up and start watching Tiger King while internally judging the fuck out myself! Crazy stuff, right? And by adding a couple high-quality new habits each month, in 6 months I'm virtually unrecognizable. Seriously, it's so easy and doable.
And it works. I started in December with the simple Couch to 5K program. In January, I started writing one blog post each day. Nothing more. In March, I started listening to one high-value podcast daily. In April I took up short yoga sessions daily. This month, I'm writing 30 minutes a day on higher-value posts, and doing meditation for just 5 minutes a day.
And that brings us to this morning where I ran, did yoga, listened to a business podcast, and ate healthy all before work started. Compared to 6 months ago, when I'd wake up and stumble straight to the couch... I'm a 10x human. This is so cliche, but I feel better, I look better, and my mind is clearer. All because I admitted I was a lazy bitch and worked with it instead of trying to change myself.
Now you have the secret, too. So go forth with your lazy self, implement a couple small quality goals each month, and change the world! 💪
PS- If you'd like to see more great stories like this, follow me on twitter; I post my best articles there. :)