Freaking Out at Work? Here's How to Be Productive Anyway
Putting two-day old underwear on, inside out. Leaving the house with feta in your eyebrows and lipstick on your teeth. Spending your days with twelve too many empty coffee cups on your desk. Spending the entire week squeezing mayonnaise onto your toothbrush and trying to start your car with your leftover toast. And then finally the day comes when you ask the window washer at the traffic lights for a double shot, almond milk latte with a sugar-free sweetener. Ever felt burnt out and anxious, but still, need to stay productive? You’re not alone.
And the truth is, I’ve received a lot of productivity advice, too. If it weren’t for Tony Robbins and the likes of Oprah and her go-get-’em friends, my life would consist of eating untoasted Vegemite bagels and checking Instagram to see if someone that I don’t even know has uploaded a new photo of yet another colourful acai bowl that I don’t even care about.
So, in the face of despair and on a quest for motivation, I share with you a pocketful of game-changers that I keep up my sleeve. Keep scrolling to read on.
Pinpoint your purpose
Do the world’s most successful people get overwhelmed? Yes, absolutely. Step away from your computer, hop into the comfort of your car (recline your seat if you must), and put pen to paper for a quick and dirty goal-setting sesh.
Write down some intentions for the bigger picture of your life; who you are, what you stand for, and what you were put on this earth to do. Get back to the core of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Slow down and soak up the feeling of what it feels like to connect back to your purpose.
Prioritise your priorities
If you’re a classic type-A personality like me, you’ve got a nasty habit of adding things to your task list for no good reason. Begin by doing a brain dump and list every single thing that you feel like you should be doing. Then immediately cross off anything that you sincerely do not need to do. I’m sure there’s a few.
Next, get prioritising. The trick is to be very discerning about your to-do list and limit yourself to only three core items per day.
Stop and take stock
Idleness is as indispensable to the brain as calcium is to your bones, and when deprived of it, we find ourselves wading through murky waters of indecision, fatigue, and a severe lack of lust for life. I believe the worst epidemic that our modern world faces is the disease of being constantly busy for the sake of busy—doing for the sake of doing. But get comfortable with the discomfort of being still, as counter-intuitive as it seems, your energy levels and productivity will thank you for it.
let the balls fall
I firmly believe that multitasking is and will be the death of us all. If you’re reaching the end of your day feeling like you’ve run a marathon, done 20 hours of hot yoga with a hangover, and sailed the seven seas on a banana leaf raft all between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (okay, sometimes 11 p.m.), then there’s a good chance you’ve spent your day jumping between tasks.
I find that it is better to do a few things extraordinarily well rather than doing fifty things poorly. Over-committing and spreading yourself too thin is a recipe for disaster and exhaustion. And if there’s one lesson I’ve learned the hard way, it’s that trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone.
My business coach used to tell me that “done is better than perfect.” At the time I was like, “Nothing is better than perfect, duh, that’s why it’s called perfect.” And when I felt overwhelmed, I would bury myself deep in a task finessing the tiny details and repeatedly making changes to my work that not even my Mum would notice. It was my kryptonite. But now I realise that being productive doesn’t mean being a perfectionist. It means doing the best you can, with what you’ve got. Don’t get bogged down in making sure everything is 100 percent, exactly one pixel to the left, and one Pantone shade darker than the way it should be. Productive people know that done is better than perfect.
Now that you’ve taken back control, honed in on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and slowly backed away from everything else, you need to own it. The sooner you realise that you’re in control, that you’ve made your own choices, and that this is your life you're living, the sooner you can own up and conquer your to-do list just like Bey hitting the stage. Because the simple fact is, unless you’re under eight years old, if you don’t take ownership for yourself, no one else is going to show up and do it for you.