I struggle as much as anyone else to get stuff done sometimes. And I also have the capacity to sit down and churn out 70-page grant proposals within days/weeks. In my experience it’s easier to be productive when you have a hard grant deadline because you have no choice (other than guaranteed failure) to put butt in chair and write.
But when your program isn’t crying out for cash right now AND it’s demanding your time and attention in a gazillion other ways, it’s easy to deal with the day to day emergencies and put off that yucky grant that you don’t really want to do anyway or aren’t sure you’ll win even if you do give it your time and attention (yup, I do know what goes inside your head my friend).
One simple trick that I’ve found helpful when I’m faced by something that I’m slightly daunted by is setting a timer. It works like a charm for me.
For example, if there is something that I think will take hours and I don’t know what I’d say I often get stuck in my head trying to figure it out. However, if I set the alarm on my phone and tell myself to just write something/anything for 10 minutes, I start the process. More often than not I find that I’ve written pages and am still at it 90 minutes later.
Conversely, when I only have 15 minutes, giving myself a timer to write for 10 of them helps me to get something done in that time – and collectively it adds up.
Another trick that I use is music or podcasts. I cannot write and listen to music with lyrics (I think it has something to do with left-brain, right-brain dominance). However, if I’m working with numbers – such as a budget – I can listen to something and work on a spreadsheet. So, when I’m working on a budget or my home finances I turn on a favorite podcast that I only listen to when I’m doing my budgets. So, it’s a treat for me to listen to BBC Woman’s Hour or the Moth and then I can deal with the tedium of plugging in numbers and balancing statistics.
I’ve called them tricks rather than tips because I think they are just that. Strategies for tricking my sweet ego into doing something it doesn’t really want to do – or managing my inner 7 year old who would much rather go out and play.
So, if you’ve got a task you’ve been putting off and that has no hard deadline – and don’t we all – try out and see if one of these tricks works for you today.
And on that note, with this written, I’m going off to hike in the woods.