We’re on Day 21 of physical distancing. Most experts agree this is the magic length of time it takes to make or break a habit.
With some of us working from home, spouses and children under foot, gyms closed and social outings curtailed, there’s a pretty good chance we’ve developed some new habits (for better or worse) to cope with the situation; whether that’s sleeping in until noon, drinking a bottle of wine before dinner, or eating take-out exclusively (no judgement here).
If you’ve spent the last few weeks binge-watching Netflix while your to-do list collects dust in the back of your mind, I’m here to share three strategies I use to get shit done every day, whether it’s small household tasks or bigger goals I’m working toward.
Before you assume I’m some robot-super-woman, I want to clear that up right now: I almost never feel like doing any of it.
Just a sample from the list of things I hate doing: changing the litter box; folding laundry (especially sheets and duvet covers), mopping floors, burpees, running on windy days, running on rainy days, putting gas in my car, washing any dishes that don’t fit in my sink (big bowls and cookie sheets), scrubbing the toilet, cleaning the fish tank… okay you get the idea. There’s a lot.
Somehow it all gets done, along with a bunch of other important stuff I actually enjoy, but have to motivate myself to do: like reading, online school work, exercising and meal prep.
To begin, if you’ve never watched Mel Robbins’ Ted Talk on the 5-Second Rule, go do that now. This completely changed my mindset when it comes to tackling anything.
Then, if you’ve tried that and just 5, 4, 3, 2, 1’d into another re-run of Keeping up with the Kardashians, keep scrolling for a few more strategies I use on a daily basis.
Imagine yourself in a future situation where the task is complete and how it will make you feel
Think of other times when you persevered and did something hard; how proud, relieved, strong, excited, (fill in the blank) you were.
It’s like driving to visit your best friend who lives three hours away. The trip will most likely be boring, and probably stressful if you have to take the 401, but you know seeing your pal and drinking Sangria will be worth it.
Changing the litter box or taking out the garbage doesn’t exactly have the same reward, but it’s no longer in the back of my mind or stinking up my house. I feel much better sitting down at the end of the day knowing I don’t have chores waiting for me in the morning.
Start small, then keep going
Challenge yourself to do something for 10 minutes or for larger projects, do a little bit every day and let the momentum take over.
One-hundred percent, if you turn on a workout and start it, you’re more likely to finish it. If you wash the dishes and put them away, you’re more likely to keep going and sweep the floor. If you organize one drawer, you might be motivated to do the closet next.
If your goal is to learn French, download Duolingo and spend 20 minutes practicing every night instead of scrolling through Instagram. If you want to run a marathon, run one kilometre three times per week. If you want to read War and Peace, read five pages per day.
You get the idea.
Just do something and do it consistently.
The time is going to pass regardless and a few minutes here and there doing something positive adds up quickly.
TIP: When I first started implementing new habits into my routine, I printed out a tracker like this one and wrote down my goals. Every day I did them, I coloured in a square.
There is something satisfying about doing this every night and if it’s stuck to your fridge and staring you in the face, you will feel guilty if you don’t do it!
Get intimate with your why
If you don’t have a strong emotion or value backing your actions, it’s going to be hard as f getting motivated those days you don’t feel so hot. And those days will out number the good ones.
Most of getting where you want to be is forcing yourself to do things that are hard. When the shit hits the fan, or I have PMS, I need something real to fall back on.
I ask myself why I started, why I’m doing what I’m doing.
And I’m not talking about some wishy-washy, ‘I want to look good for my friend’s wedding’ b.s.
That’s not going to get you to press play on your workout when you lose your job or your cat dies or there’s a global pandemic that puts you on house arrest for three months.
That’s not going to keep you in the game for the long haul.
I recently completed Dean Graziosi’s 7 Levels Deep exercise and it was a game-changer for me. I encourage you to get out a pen and paper and do the same. Put it in a safe place and refer to it the next time your mindset takes a hit.