You’ve tried every productivity tactic out there (there are tons). You’re sure that this one is going to be the one that will allow you to stop procrastinating and actually get you on the path of amazing productivity.
You’re fired up and practice the tactic for a day or two and see great results. And then day three rolls around…
How often do your days get derailed like this?
- You decide that there’s one thing you want to accomplish for the day. (You’ve read how it’s impossible to do more than two or three “to do’s” in a day so you pick one “most important” one.)
- You show up at work (wherever that is for you) and check emails to make sure there’s nothing big you might be missing.
- Two hours later you’re diverted to three other projects that hadn’t even occurred to you when you started your day (these and everything in your inbox are usually someone else’s priorities).
- You grab a quick bite to eat while you check emails again.
- People come into your office, you’re in endless meetings or conference calls or your kids are in constant need of something for the next five hours.
- It’s the end of your day and you realize that you haven’t even looked at your one “most important” thing.
- You stay late to at least start that “most important” thing or you pledge to get to it first thing tomorrow.
- Tomorrow goes the same way.
Why does this happen?
Because you didn’t put yourself first.
When you don’t put yourself and your “most important” thing first, you end up last. This is a tough lesson that I’m constantly being reminded of in my average days.
You can try all the productivity hacks in the world and they won’t stick until you put yourself first.
Why don’t we put ourselves first? The list is endless.
- It’s selfish.
- I don’t deserve it.
- I have to keep others happy (don’t want to lose my job or make people angry with me).
- My “most important” thing isn’t as important as other people’s important things.
- I have to finish all the little things before I can start the big projects.
- I have to finish all “the work” (not fun stuff) before I can start “my work” (the fun stuff).
Each day we lie to ourselves saying that tomorrow will be different. It rarely is.
Days roll into weeks roll into months roll into years which make your life.
Every time you choose to put yourself last you’re choosing to put your life, your goals and your dreams last.
This is why none of the productivity tips and tricks work for you. This is why people get to the end of their lives and wonder why they never “had the time” to pursue their dreams.
They never made the time. They never chose themselves first.
When you make daily choices to put others first and those choices aren’t filling your heart with joy, you’re quietly filling your heart with regrets and resentment.
Putting others first can be part of your pursuit of your own goals and dreams. For example, it fills my heart with joy to do things for my family that I know they love. But I also have to take time for myself to recharge so that I have the energy and good feelings for my family.
At work I love to coach and mentor others to be their best. But I won’t have the energy and focus to do this if I’m constantly buried in other people’s priorities where I remained stressed and distracted because I’m not working on my own priorities.
Put Yourself First
Don’t check email. Don’t return calls. Don’t go to meetings (if you can help it). Don’t hang out and chit-chat. Don’t watch TV or spend time on social media.
By putting these things first, you’re putting the wishes of other people first or you’re prioritizing what you think others will think of you (which matters so little).
You’re good enough to be first. You’re so worth it.
Start on your most important thing first, no matter what. Commit to working on it for just ten minutes. You can stop after ten minutes, but you probably won’t since you’ll have some momentum going. Yes, this is one of the many productivity tactics but it works, if you can honor yourself on a daily basis.
As you do this, take a deep breath and notice how you feel. Is your attention distracted as you think that you should be doing something else? Do you feel like you’re cheating someone else by not putting their priorities first? Do you start to question how important your most important thing is?
If other people’s priorities are eating at you and diverting your attention from your most important thing, play the worst-case-scenario game and ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t do these other things right now?” The answer is probably “Nothing.”
If you can’t value yourself and your priorities over those of other people, your time will always be at their mercy. You’ll wonder why you can’t ever complete the things that are important to you.
At my office, I found that closing my door wasn’t enough of a deterrent to keep others from knocking or boldly walking into my office. So I made a simple sign that says, “Do not disturb me. I’m…” then I have smaller pieces of paper that say “on the phone,” “in a meeting” and “focusing.” The first time I put up the “focusing” sign, I heard plenty of laughs outside of my office but no one ever knocked. Mission accomplished.
After using these signs for a few weeks, I now have people offer to close my door when it’s open and they see the sign up.
You Train People How To Treat You
If other people know that you’ll jump on their projects as soon as they arrive at your desk or in your email, they’ll continue to do that with some high expectations.
If people learn that you’ll put their project somewhere in your list of priorities (and you let them know where that is), they’ll learn not to expect immediate results.
If you say no on occasion because you’re already booked solid, people will understand and figure out other ways to solve their own problems.
When life gets crazy and the demands on you and your time are too much, the best thing you can do is stop. Take three deep breaths to refocus yourself. Clear your mind and listen to your heart.
You can’t do many things at once despite what we’ve been told about the “benefits” of multi-tasking.
Pick the one most important thing and do that thing and that thing only. Hang up your “I’m focusing” sign, close your door and turn off your phone.
Tell your monkey mind who is reminding you of other people’s priorities to take a flying leap.
Slow down and do your most important thing to the best of your abilities. Do your best because that’s the best you can do. Do not seek perfection. You know it’s impossible. Just do your best without judging yourself.
When that thing is done, take a break. Take a walk. Do something fun. Clear your mind.
Then start the next most important thing and do it as well as you can.
Rinse and repeat.
You’re Worth It
Listen to your heart.
Put you first.
Focus on one thing at a time – your most important thing.
Do your best (which will change day to day).
Stay in the present moment – doing your best as you work on your most important thing.
Stay out of the past – regretting past choices, feeling guilty about not putting others first.
Stay out of the future – stressing about everything else on your list and how it will ever get done (it probably won’t so deal with it).
Your inbox will be full on the day you die. [Tweet this]
If you don’t put yourself first, no one else will.
Do it as if your life depended on it because it does.
|In the United States, Thursday, November 28 is Thanksgiving Day. I think it’s pretty silly to reserve giving thanks to one day in a string of 364 other days. Check out a sampling of some of my daily gratitude lists here: What’s On Your Gratitude List Today?|
|I want to say a great, big THANKS!! to you for being a reader and member of our community. Next month marks the third anniversary of Simple Mindfulness and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. You’re awesome!!|
|As another way to express my thanks to you, I’m offering the Mindful Body program for 50% off until Monday, December 2, 2013 at midnight. Just use the discount code THANKS when checking out.|
|The program includes many ideas that you can use through the holidays and beyond to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life. Click here to learn more and take advantage of the discount: Mindful Body program|