I’ve recently figured out (maybe more that I’ve accepted it) that I love to follow a fast-paced lifestyle and make myself fall into a ‘productivity trap’. Due to everything being put on hold, I’ve finally accepted that I am someone who needs to stay busy to be happy and avoid actually feeling things.
This mindset is something that will probably end up being damaging the further into my adult life I get. So I’ve spent the week trying out ways to slow down, and accept that it’s okay to and not feel guilty. I know that a week won’t tell me a lot about what works and what doesn’t, but it’s a start.
There is a damaging message that is constantly drilled into us, especially as young adults, that we should always be doing something as it might benefit ourselves or our career. Got free time? Why not volunteer. Sat doing nothing? Read a book instead. But when are we told to embrace free time to rejuvenate our minds and bodies?
If you struggle with these feelings too, or know anyone that does, here are my thoughts and ideas on how to stop falling into a self-made productivity trap.
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Setting weekly to-do lists, not daily
When it gets to Sunday, look ahead to the next seven days and note down any tasks that you want to get done. Even if you wouldn’t normally write them on your to-do list, such as going food shopping or doing some exercise.
By aiming to have more productive weeks, rather than individual days, it can take the pressure off when you’re not feeling up to things one day but knowing and accepting that doing them the next day is fine. You could plan to have a productive hour, day, or week, but sometimes it gets to it and you just can’t do anything and that is okay.
You could even stretch further and do monthly, but things pop up all the time that need doing so this might not work logistically.
Choosing a to-do list style that suits you
Do you write a to-do list by jotting down the most extreme goals and telling yourself you’ll do it all in a day? Me too. There are so many ways that you can write a to-do list to help suit your needs and desires to tick things off.
For me, I’ve found that being really in-depth and positive can help. I usually write to do lists that go something like:
- Create LinkedIn content for my blog
- Bake something
- Engage with followers on instagram
Now I’m realising that gets me nowhere. I come to the end of the day and think ‘oh no I didn’t read a whole book today‘. So now I’m starting to write my lists more like:
- Write at least one post for LinkedIn and schedule on Hootsuite
- Go for a walk or bike 4x this week
- Maybe bake caramel shortbread one day this week
- Spend some time commenting on posts each day
- Read for 15 minutes when first wake up every day if I can
Using words like maybe or if I can helps me to not be annoyed if I don’t do it.
Using apps that reduce phone time
I’ll admit to anyone that I’m addicted to my phone, especially now that my blog is based on it. However, I do often pick it up for no reason whatsover and spend ages scrolling – I’ve done it about 10 times while writing this post.
I really like the app ‘Forest‘ which allows you to set a timer for how long you want to be off your phone for and will prompt you to put it down every time you wake it. Start small and work your way up to longer periods.
Do something creatively productive
Some people might want to be productive all day every day to say that they’ve achieved something or have a result to show for it. So why not put your mind to a project that calms you while having something to show for it at the end?
Get stuck into a project that doesn’t involve too much brain power, such as painting or mindful colouring. The Animorphia colouring book is my favourite!
Make peace with not being busy
Now is probably a better time than any to try and make peace with not living your life at 100mph. Once this is all over and we can, many of us will probably resume our fast-paced lifestyles almost without even thinking about it. So maybe now is the time we should teach ourselves real methods of avoiding the productivity trap in the long-term.
Do you find yourself in a self-made productivity trap? Thriving off being busy but not letting yourself wind down out of fear of guilt, overthinking or sadness? Leave a comment with your thoughts or methods for dealing with this and help others out!
If you’re still feeling stressed about things, why not check out my blog on how to feel less stressed as a young adult?