I have spent the past few weeks in a bit of a whirlwind. Nothing was really going as planned, things kept randomly popping up, children were being challenging and I kept making to-do lists that weren’t getting checked off. Every time I made a list and things didn’t get done, I became more and more anxious. I constantly had inner dialogue running on a loop in my brain that sounded something like “You still need to write that blog post but you still haven’t managed to clear off the kitchen sink and get lunch yet”. I was constantly beating myself up over the things that I wasn’t being successful with. The more I did this, the more I wasn’t getting accomplished. My I lost more and more motivation as my days went on.
It is so easy to get sucked into the pattern of not initiating a task because you haven’t finished another one. It is even easier to get pulled into a pattern of negative self talk. We have been mentally conditioned that we need to be so busy and so successful. When I’m not functioning on the level I want to be, when I’m not efficient and rocking life, my natural thought pattern immediately turns to giving myself a hard time. Once you get to this point, it is hard to pull yourself out of it. It seems like nothing you do is enough, you feel like a bit of a loser and you begin to think that you will be like this forever. This is what we call a “rut”.
Finally, after almost three weeks of not being efficient, I decided to put my foot down with myself. I managed to pull myself together and get things done by doing 5 simple things.
1. Refresh your brain
In order to move past my vortex of inefficiency and negativity, I had to start from scratch. I looked through all of the missed “to-do” lists, crossed off the things that didn’t matter anymore. I prioritized what was left and added some new items that were important to me. I had been stewing and procrastinating over a blog post that I had set in my planner. For some reason I couldn’t make myself write it (another time, friends!). Instead, I’m here writing this one, which is flowing quite easily. Instead of focusing on the exact thing that needed to be done, the main goal was to just be productive and be successful at something to get myself started and boost my motivation. The important thing was I needed to write a blog post. I chose a different topic, but here I am. Success.
2. Take a break
Another thing I did to get on with my life was to take a small break. I went out to lunch with my sister and best friend in a fancy restaurant that we probably would have reserved for a formal business lunch. We dressed up for no reason at all and I just enjoyed spending time away from all of the things I wasn’t getting done at home. Some may call this procrastination. I call this rejuvenation. I spent all of 1.5 hours away from reminders of how much I wasn’t getting done and felt like a new person because of it.
3. Make a new plan
A lot of the reason I have been struggling lately is because my normal routine has been chaos due to summer (who said this was the best season, anyway? Not me). There are lots of more fun things to be doing and barbecues to be attending than usual. I’m a creature of habit and I thrive best in a very structured environment. I had to sit down, figure out why things weren’t working, and then make a new plan to adjust to what needs to be done. I do have young children, so part of that was restructuring meal times and bed times in order to still accommodate the things that I need to do to feel fulfilled as a person outside of being a mother.
4. Dig in
There is no sense in refreshing and planning if you don’t just pull yourself together and do what needs to be done. I had to schedule a time where I was able to spend a few solid hours doing what I needed to do. Some of it was work, but some of it was personal tasks that I needed just in order to feel good about where I am in life right now. It’s hard to carve that time out when you have been away from it, but time spent being successful will motivate you towards continued success.
5. Improve your inner dialogue
When I think back over the past few weeks, I now realize how horrible I was to myself. If anyone had said these things to me, I would be so offended. I had no problem reeling it off in my brain, though. This may be the most important step – changing my self talk is what really pulled me out of the inefficiency rut I was stuck in. I went from “Why are you not able to get things done? Why are you the only person who can’t manage to keep it together?” to “You’ve got this, it’s only one blog post. It’s only one load of laundry. It’s only one bill payment. You can do this, you’re an intelligent, capable person”. Realistically, none of the things that were holding me back these past few weeks were really in my control (Okay, so I may have watched more than one episode of Big Brother when I should have been getting stuff done). I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. Once you get into that train of thought, it is exceptionally hard to get out of it. So for you reading this- stop it, right now!
What is your best method for pulling yourself out of a rut?