A client of Personal Money Manager recently told me, somewhat sheepishly: “I have to confess. Sometimes I have to trick myself into doing what needs to be done.”
To which I responded: “No need to apologize! If it works, go for it!”
In that spirit, here are some field-tested productivity tricks for “fooling” yourself into getting stuff done. (Click here if you are not a do-it-yourselfer or would rather outsource paperwork tasks.)
1. Choose words wisely.
Why try to “dump the junk” when you can turn the process into a positive, motivating activity–a “treasure hunt”? Either way you say it, the goal is the same: to identify items important to you and clear the rest. Words matter! Notice how “spending plans” and “eating plans” are easier to follow than budgets and diets?
2. Make it memorable.
To help a client remember to water her plants each week, a colleague suggested she just remember: “Watering Wednesday.” What tasks can be made routine by making them into a rhyme or mnemonic? “Filing Friday” anyone?
3. Earn your breaks.
What is the “pause that refreshes” for you? A Coke, as their 1920’s ad suggests? A Starbucks? A short walk? Calling a friend? Plan your time so that “pauses” ONLY follow time spent at a necessary task, making it a “treat” for being productive. Even if the treat is just getting out to run an errand.
A simple kitchen timer (or one on your phone) can help you alternate between the fun and not-so-fun projects—to make sure both get done. The result: A fresh batch of blondies AND a fresh file of paid bills.
You’re going to go out and get a cup of coffee anyway. Why not time it to make it a reward for a paperwork session?
4. Learn what works for you.
Samuel Johnson, 18th century English writer, said: “Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.” What does that have to do with your productivity? Here are some thoughts:
If temperance works best for you, you can tolerate limited amounts of clutter or time wasting, for example, without fear that all will go to seed. Try a rule like my “Eat homemade only” which works for me when choosing from a dessert spread or eating bread (see my recent newsletter about my sourdough starter).
Uncompromising abstinence is best if “Bet you can’t eat only one” applies to you. It’s all or nothing! If that’s how your mind operates, ban treats from the house. Enjoy them out of the house only. Unplug the TV or make a “no Facebook” rule, for example—no exceptions, or you know what will happen!
5. Experiment with different productivity tricks.
Would upbeat music get you in the mood to file and keep the process moving? Or, could silence improve concentration when bill-paying? Would having someone working alongside or with you be helpful? Night owl or early bird? When you know when you are at your best, use that information to increase productivity.
What productivity tricks work for you? Are there some you’d like to share?