Sunday, November 24, 2013

7 Ways to Just Get Stuff Done

Today we're going to talk about laziness and the things we can do to combat it. Of course, I have basically no frame of reference for what it means to be lazy, so I will just have to make some speculations based off of the lives of other, less-evolved people that I've met.

Wait...confession: none of what I just said was true. I know, shocker. The truth is I understand laziness. I understand laziness HARD. I mean, if it weren't for certain societal pressures, I would basically live my life like this here slow loris:

I'd just sit there with my ball of rice, thinking about life's greatest mysteries such as why people are suddenly up-in-arms about the prevalence of pumpkin spice lattes or why anyone would actually want to be a contestant on The Bachelor.

The positive way to spin this is to say that, much like Plato or Socrates, I am simply inclined to a life of introspection. That's really nice of you to say, but we both know that's not true. I'm just a person who has got herself a touch of the lazies, and is that really so bad? I feel like it could be way worse. 

The trouble is that life never seems to allow for laziness to win. In life, you have to do stuff and be places and if you don't, then sometimes you starve and die. So for people like me, people who sympathize with sloths and napping cats, what happens is that in attempting to do the things that life requires, frustration just creeps up. Suddenly, I'm doing stuff and I'm being places, but it feels so laborious and I'm so frazzled that I don't actually feel like I'm making any progress in life.

Because this is such a cycle for me, I've learned some methods along the road to help me out that I'd like to share with you today. So, if you're living like a slow loris, it's time to put down the rice ball and listen up.

Here are a few things that help me out. Maybe they'll help you too.

1. Channel Beyoncé

Via Etsy (you can buy this, and I suggest you do.)

While you were binge-eating Wheat Thins and watching Netflix, Beyoncé just burned 10,000 calories dancing to "End of Time" for an entire stadium full of people who burned 5,000 calories just from the sheer joy of watching her. I talk about Beyoncé a lot on this blog, but the truth is she is a person just like you are a person. She's got nothing that you haven't got, so if she can get stuff done, then you can too. Stop letting the clock run out, and get out there and make it happen.

2. Make a plan

I'm a big list-maker. Lists help organize our thoughts and they serve as excellent reminders for the things we would ordinarily forget to do. Sometimes, however, I think they can become another way to stress myself out. Once I get started, I just can't stop adding things (fold laundry, call mom, pay utility bill...let's see, what else can I do? Paint the ceiling, write a novel, create sculpture in the likeness of my husband). 

It gets far too ambitious and just flat crazy. For this reason, I usually structure my to-do lists with 5 things that I HAVE TO get done that day and 5 things that COULD get done (and probably should, but I'm not going to freak out if they don't. They're like my rollover tasks). 

If you're wondering what this looks like, let's take a look at an example. The following is Beyonce's to-do list:

It's short. It's simple. It's manageable (for Beyoncé anyway). 

I like to write my list out the night before, so that I know how to plan my next day accordingly. I don't know when Beyoncé writes hers. If you see her, could you ask her for me?

3. Don't snooze

Does anyone else's alarm clock look like this?

Setting your alarm clock to "snooze" is like the worst thing you can do. This article confirms it and so does my life. By constantly being alarmed in tiny increments, your body doesn't enter the waking cycle and it affects your memory and your wakefulness.

But, if you're anything like me, this advice will not help you at all because your Awake Person and your Snooze Person are two entirely different people. The tragedy is that Snooze Person is conscious enough that Awake Person is forced to remember all of the weird things that happen during snooze mode. I once pressed snooze like thirty times, and each time I would say OUT LOUD, "You know, they say, when you snooze you lose, but guys, this is awesome." Guys?! Who was I talking to? I said that multiple times. To myself. Out loud. And I thought it was SO funny. And then I was late for everything and hated everyone for the rest of the day. WHO IS THAT SNOOZE PERSON?! SHE IS THE WORST.

Guys, don't do snooze. You're basically setting yourself up for failure for the rest of your day. 

4. Move immediately

I thought this GIF was too weird not to share. I googled "waking up gif" and this is what I ended up with, and I am not going to pretend that waking up with a hairless cat isn't an actual nightmare for me because it is. 

Anyway, don't do what this lady is doing. Get your ass out of bed and get moving. It will get your blood pumping and clear your mind for that busy to-do list you created. Whether you run, clean, or just play a quick round of Just Dance, you can't just lie naked in bed all day with your terrifying cat until it's time to go to work. That's no longer an option for you.

5. Set timers for yourself

So your ass is out of bed, and now you're getting down to bid'ness. Whether that means you're at work crunching the numbers or home organizing your junk drawer, you'll need something to keep you motivated. I like to set a timer that I keep by my desk (it's in the shape of a bellpepper, and it's very cute, but it mostly doesn't work). For me, the stuff that I need to get done is usually writing-related, so I'll set my timer for thirty minutes, and I will write so hard and so fast that my fingers bleed, and when the timer goes off, I know it's time for a short guilty pleasure. I'll set my timer for five minutes, and I'll peruse Twitter and Facebook until that timer goes off. Then it's another thirty minutes of finger-bending, wildly aggressive typing.

6. Close out of all of your tabs

This piece of advice is more for those of us whose professions involve using a computer. Pictured below is a hot mess of open tab insanity.

If you really want to get work done, close it ALL. Everything except what you need. No excuses. 

6. Put in the effort required

Sometimes when I'm doing chores around the apartment, I will suddenly catch myself completely half-assing everything, especially if I'm in a particularly bad mood that day. For example, if I'm picking clothes up off the ground, I'll pick up a single shirt, practically crawl to the hamper, drop it in, crawl back to the mass of dirty clothes, and pick up another solitary piece of clothing. 

Sometimes our bad attitudes can make tasks seem so much more arduous than they actually are. It's like we are trying to spite the world with our terrible work ethic, but we actually only end up hurting ourselves. If you've got something you really need to just get done, put your body into it. By this, I mean, use two hands, lift with your legs, do things that will logically help make it go faster. Don't be like that weird cat up there. That's insane.

7. Realize that your work has meaning

This girl gets it.

As innocuous as the feeling of laziness sometimes seems, I would say it is one that is closer to evil than it is to good. Laziness robs us of realizing the great potential we have as human beings. It is my belief that we are people created with a purpose, and we all have the ability to execute that purpose in different ways. It's difficult to see the intentionality of the mundane moments in our lives, but if you believe that your life matters, then you have to believe that even the moments that feel small can actually make a real difference. You wake up early to drive your daughter to school so that she can get an education so that she can get even more education so that she can become a lawyer and then become a governor and then become the president. It's that kind of thing. 

You are on this earth to do big and small things that are all part of a much bigger story, so do each and every one of them joyfully. 

For more on this, I definitely suggest listening to these words on procrastination by Matt Popovits. 

How about you? How do you fight laziness?


  1. I needed to see this today, thank you! I'm definitely guilty of the morning laziness.

  2. Loving this, thank you! I'm going to Beyonce it up tomorrow

    1. Yes! I love hearing this. Take the world by storm, Bey!

  3. Your grandpa once told me, "Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Not original, of course, but extremely useful. He should have said "person" instead of "man," but that would have seemed strange in 1960. You get the idea.

  4. As always, Seinfeld is brilliant on this subject


Popular Posts