Have you ever been so busy you felt like you were almost in a panic? Deadlines are approaching, you haven’t cleaned your house in weeks, you have what seems like a dozen outside commitments you don’t know when you’ll have time for, and you’re somehow still in charge of planning that family dinner next week.
Does that sound familiar? When you’re in a situation like this, what’s your go-to coping strategy? Is it to make a to-do list and begin checking things off it one by one? We’re not saying that’s a bad strategy — but an even better one might be to have a “stop-doing” list.
Your “stop-doing” list is a list of behaviors you notice in yourself that make you both less productive and less happy. Maybe your list includes time-wasting habits you want to cut out, or things like being too hard on yourself. Whatever you include on your list, having a “stop-doing” list may just help you be more productive than any to-do list you’ll ever create.
Some things you might include on your list are:
Worrying and Panicking
Worry and stress are natural reactions to feeling overwhelmed. But in most cases, all worrying does is make the problem seem bigger than it is. It also makes us feel smaller and less well-equipped to handle whatever it is we need to handle. Ultimately, worrying is a counterproductive reaction to stress.
It can be hard to stop stressing. But try adding it to your “stop-doing” list and see if you can’t check yourself every time you begin to panic. Tell yourself, “I can do this. I just need to take it one step at a time. Worrying will not help things get done any faster.”
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Mindlessly Wasting Time
Does this sound familiar? You know you need to get started on your next task, but it feels so overwhelming. Instead, you tell yourself you can have five more minutes on Instagram, Facebook or your social media site of choice. This mental-health break turns into 10 minutes, then 15. Before you know it, you have to rush and panic to finish a task you could have finished in plenty of time if you had just stopped procrastinating.
There’s a difference between taking time for self-care and mindlessly wasting time. So often, however, we unthinkingly misuse so much of our time that we don’t have time for self-care. If you really feel like you need a break, don’t be afraid to take a real break. Do something soothing and relaxing, like calling a friend, drinking some tea or reading a book. Often, these breaks will help make you feel refreshed and more ready to get back at it.
Being Too Hard on Yourself
There are only so many hours in the day. Sometimes, we don’t finish everything we hoped to finish in one day. That’s OK. That’s part of life. There’s no point in beating yourself up for not being fast enough or good enough.
When you catch yourself giving way to negative self-talk, try to tell yourself, “I did the best I could. Tomorrow, I will continue to do the best I can. I can be happy with that, and I can give myself a break for being human.”
Comparing Yourself to Others
When there’s a lot of work to do, it can be tempting to look at others and begin to worry if they are doing more than we are, or completing tasks faster than we can.
But comparing yourself to others will only make you more worried and stressed. Instead, focus on yourself and your tasks. Work at your best pace and do your best work. How quickly or slowly anyone else is working is none of your concern. The only thing you have control over is yourself. So don’t worry about the rest.
Live Your Happiest and Most Productive Life
Comparing yourself to others. Worrying. Endlessly wasting time on mindless things. By watching for these and other behaviors, you can not only become more productive and efficient, you can also get started on the road to a happier and more stress-free life.
What’s on your “stop-doing” list?
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