Recently I’ve been in one of my better creative periods in quite a long time. I have been reading more, as well as writing every day and planning a future podcast. When I noticed how productive I had been, I wasn’t quite sure how it happened.
You see, I was in a rut for awhile. No new projects were being planned. Books were started and unfinished. I was enjoying a few too many beers and not enough time at the gym. I wouldn’t quite call it depression. I had just grown complacent.
So how did I pull myself out of it? Here’s a list of things I found helpful to help change the momentum in my life.
1. Make Your Bed Every Single Day
This probably sounds silly as hell to some of you. But it’s worked wonders for me. (I do not take credit for this idea. It is all over the interwebs.)
The idea behind it is simple. If you make your bed every morning, you’ve accomplished a task and it starts to build momentum in the right direction for the rest of the day. The shift is subtle, but I find that I am more likely to do all the little tasks I tend to avoid if I make my bed.
2. Keep the alcohol to a minimum
This one, I think, might be more about living in New York City. In New York, people tend to socialize in bars a lot. So if you’re a social person, it can be really easy to spend several nights a week at a bar.
For much of my New York City existence, I’ve fallen prey to that lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a lot of fun. But if I was being honest, it’s hurt my productivity. Even if I have just 1-2 drinks it affects me the next day. I am noticeably more sluggish and lazier.
Currently, I haven’t had one drink in 9 days, and I’ve just been on a roll, although I’ve got a birthday coming up...
3. Find Time for Silence (Meditation)
There was an interesting Harvard Business Review article about the need for silence as you get busier.
For me, silence is about a daily meditation practice. Years ago I was an avid meditator but had fallen out of practice in the last year or two. But over the last few weeks I’ve started a daily practice again. The changes in perspective are very subtle but profound. I find myself less anxious throughout the day and more in the moment. This makes it much less likely to avoid certain tasks that I’d avoid unconsciously (i.e. paying bills).
4. Keep TV watching to a minimum
For me, this is very much connected to alcohol. After a night of drinking even just 1 or 2 drinks, my brain flips the switch and goes into “lazy mode” the next day, and “lazy mode” is very much connected to television. When I’m in these moods, I can easily watch 6 hours of TV at a time. Obviously, this isn’t great. Not drinking as much has allowed me to be more lucid throughout the day, meaning I’ve been watching much less television and I’ve been using my free time on my projects.
5. Exercise a lot
This doesn’t have to weight lifting or even a gym. It can be walking or yoga or swimming or whatever floats your boat. (My current favorite exercise, hitting the heavy bag with boxing gloves or shadowboxing in front of a mirror.)
What does exercise accomplish? For me, it’s about avoiding the “lazy mode” that gets me into a rut. If I manage to exercise even for a half hour, my energy levels go up, and I am more lucid and productive throughout.
(I am a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, NY. If you're interested in therapy, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am open to Skype sessions as well.)