Did you know that practicing self compassion could actually help you get more things done, crossing items off your to do list?
Self compassion and focusing on your accomplishments can help you break the cycle of stress and overwhelm that stops you from making real progress on your tasks.
Most of us have a mile long to do list that we take a crack at every day. And if we’re being honest, some of us (ahem) end up adding more things to the end of the list than they manage to cross off for the day.
According to some researchers, at any given time we have around 150 items on our to do list!
That sure sounds like we’re setting ourselves up for stress, overwhelm, and imminent failure.
But fear not! You don’t need to get sucked into this endless cycle of one step forward, two steps back. There are ways to ditch those feelings of overwhelm that keep you from getting those things done that you desperately want to do. All while maintaining your sanity in the process.
1. Examine your feelings around what you’ve already done
When you look at the list of things you’ve gotten done in, say, the last week or so, how do you feel about those accomplishments? The answers might range from pride to guilt or shame.
Then consider what those feelings about those accomplishments are doing to your chances of getting more done. If you feel pride is that slowing you down because you’re resting on your laurels, or is it encouraging you to keep going?
If it’s guilt that you haven’t done more, is that motivating you to push through, or upsetting you so much that you don’t want to continue?
If you answered shame then it’s likely that it’s stopping you from starting anything. Even though you’re ashamed that you didn’t do anything, that feeling will only cause you to stay stuck, not do more. Any deeply negative emotions that keep you stuck like shame can be lessened with info from the next section.
Being mindful about how you view your accomplishments will help you tackle what’s ahead of you. If you find yourself feeling negatively no matter what you do, head to the next section for help dealing with those feelings.
2. Practice some self compassion
The negative things we say to ourselves are often not something we would ever say to another person, nor would we allow others to say them about ourselves. And yet we beat ourselves up, almost obsessively, sometimes.
This self deprecating behavior only leads to more negative emotions which causes you to get even more stuck. Even though logically you KNOW that if you would just get started you would feel so much better, you’re so overwhelmed and drained by the negative emotions that you can’t even begin.
If this is where you are, then take a moment and consider what you would tell a friend who was in your situation. Would you call them lazy and useless or would you tell them that they can totally handle this?
Whatever you would say to them, say to yourself. Say it out loud. You might feel weird but your brain believes what you tell it.
It also believes what you imagine, so visualizing how you will feel once you complete something on your list will help boost your mood.
3. Accept your reality
As hard as it is to come to terms with sometimes, we’re only human and we only have 24 hours in a day.
And for many of us, due to reasons beyond our control, we can’t squeeze all the productivity that we would like to out of a day.
If your kid is sick, or you have a chronic illness, or your basement flooded – you’re not going to knock those things off your list today. It doesn’t have to even be a big reason, maybe you just had a crummy nights sleep.
Whatever the cause it will help relieve you of those negative emotions that keep you stuck by just accepting where you are.
As the wise Theodore Roosevelt once said
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
If you can practice some acceptance, you will get relief. This will actually allow you to move on and accomplish more items than if you spend your energy beating yourself up over what you can’t get done.
4. Apply some science
While our brains are magnificent organs that can think amazing thoughts, there are still some things they aren’t great at doing. One of those things is giving a good estimate about how long a task actually takes.
While you might think that it took you an hour to write that report, you’re probably not factoring in how often you skipped over to social media, or that cat video you watched, or how long you were daydreaming about your next vacation.
And this problem is compounded when you’re also in a negative headspace. For example, if you look at your to do list and see that you need to write a report but you’re overwhelmed, you might guess that the report, that you could probably bang out in half an hour, will take you 2 hours to do.
This thought process only magnifies your overwhelm which makes it that much harder to even get started.
To help you get through this, start tracking your time. Start with the tasks you do often and time how long they take when you’re totally focused. This will give you a solid baseline.
Then if you get overwhelmed you can start assigning real world times to your action items instead of making inaccurate guesses that might overwhelm you even more.
By taking some steps to openly deal with your negative emotions and overcome the traps of stress and overwhelm you can significantly boost your productivity and get more things done.
Just take a moment to be mindful of your feelings and compassionate with yourself and you’ll start knocking items off your to do list before you know it.