In mid-2014 a few little unanswered health problems prompted me to go and see a naturopath. After getting to know a little about my self and lifestyle it was her diagnosis that the root of my problems was most likely just due to stress. When she suggested it, I laughed inside my head. I mean, my life is hardly stressful… I am healthy, fit, have supportive people around me, a successful business, I travel lots and generally have it pretty good. Of course life comes with its problems, and I’ve had my fair share of “down days”, but I try to always be positive just keep on trudging through. But on further questioning, she was quite certain that this was it. She asked me if I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of things I thought I had to do and felt like I could never get everything done? On that, she had me nailed… this was me all over. But I had never considered it as “stress” before, I just told myself I wasn’t productive enough, and tried to work harder. Apparently this is the first part of chronic stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression, a road I definitely did not want to go down.
So here’s a few tips I implemented throughout 2015 that changed my life and actually saw me start achieving my goals:
– Write down your goals in order of priority. Not that I’m generally one for New Years resolutions, but New Years Eve 2014/15 saw me laying by a pool in Vietnam with my manager and she was writing down her goals for the coming year… so I thought I’d do the same. It was then I realized that there were waaayy too many things on that list, and most of them had been on there for at least a year or 2 already. I needed to prioritize them and even let some go, at least until I had completed some of the more important ones.
– Realize that you can’t do everything well at once. I was never going to be the standard of boxer or DJ that I knew I could be with the limited time I was able to commit, I generally didn’t have the time to take on bigger, interstate modeling assignments, and I was never going to get my other business projects completed with my time and headspace being so cluttered… and while running my WickedBodz Fitness Centre at the same time. Something had to give if I wanted to be successful at ANY of these things. It was hard to make the decision not to compete in boxing last year or to pursue other potentially lucrative offers BUT, using the some of the other tips below, I was able to learn to “work smarter, not harder” at WickedBodz; giving me the time to finally complete BodyBAM (my online fitness program launching in Feb), and create Mathie Athletic, my luxe women’s fitness wear line that will launch this week!! And now that those two things are finally ticked off my list, I actually have the time to properly commit to boxing, modeling and my music in 2016. You will have far more success putting 100% into everything you do if it means doing one thing at a time, than 90% into a bunch of things… 90% is not enough when your competition is putting in 100%.
– Make a list of everything you think you need to do. I do this in the Notes of my iPhone; I’ve had a never-ending list for the past 7 years. Take each thing off that list and categorize it into…
- A’s: things that absolutely MUST get done asap, no question
- B’s: things that need to be done, but that are not urgent.
- C’s: things that you should and would like to do, but if you didn’t the world is not going to fall apart.
Within the list of A’s, make the things of highest priority A1’s. Also make the things you have been avoiding/hate doing A1’s. These get done first.
You will never get to your C’s. I almost never even get to my B’s! Unless they eventually became important enough to become A’s they just don’t get done. I used to think this was such a disorganized way of thinking and living, and wonder how one could ever get ahead in life with this attitude! But the funny thing is that the past year I have felt more productive than ever, and yeah I still have my stressful days now and again, but it’s not constant. Because without even realising, you will always MAKE time for the things that excite you and that you want to do.
Every few weeks or months I scroll to the bottom of my to-do list where the B’s and C’s are, and most often I find the B’s have either already been done (they must have become A’s at some point) or are still just B’s and that’s FINE. I usually find the C’s are now irrelevant and never really even needed to be done. Seeing this made me aware of how many unimportant things I had been trying to squeeze into my day that important things (things I didn’t want to do) were falling by the wayside and causing me more unnecessary stress down the track. Now that I don’t waste whole days doing God knows what, I can actually get to the bottom of my (A) list and have time to do FUN things!
– Use your “thinking hats”. Allocate and schedule set times each week to do certain types of activities (and only them), and try to avoid doing more than 3-5 different activities in one day. Different types of jobs/activities use different parts of our brain and require different ways of thinking. eg. Doing the accounting uses a different head space to training clients, which uses a different head space to designing, which is different to marketing, answering emails, socializing with friends etc.
So you can imagine if the activities of your day required you to be jumping back and forth from one “thinking hat” to 10 others, you’re going to be pretty mentally exhausted by the end… exactly how I was feeling. Even though my workload wasn’t as huge as some, it was just poorly structured and was overloading my brain. Sometimes I’d feel like I was sitting there staring at a wall for 20 minutes, getting distracted by anything and everything before I could even focus on the job at hand.
– Make time each day for yourself/self reflection. Some call it meditation. Even if its just 15 minutes, reminding yourself of your goals, envisioning where you see yourself in 5 years and taking the time to acknowledge what you have already achieved so far is SO important to staying on track.
– Have something to look forward to each day. This is the fantastic advice of my best friend Veronika (follow her on IG @veronikalarisova) who is the most productive and inspiring person I think I have ever met. Whether it’s a personal training session, a lunch with friends or whatever; knowing you have something you really enjoy on the cards for the day helps to motivate you to get out of bed in the morning and push through the other “less fun” parts of the day. Fun things make us relax, and when we are relaxed we can delve deeper into the layers of our brain, right down to deep in the subconscious where we are most creative and PRODUCTIVE.
If I have to finish by highlighting the point that I find most important, it would be to make sure you do something fun everyday – comical considering this post is about being more productive and working, but as a workaholic, that’s my hot tip! 😉