TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet Coconut, AKA The Bottoms Of Two Coffees
I’ve been asked a thousand times how I multi-task to get the number of things done that I do. If you’re not a multi-tasker by nature, and more someone who has to focus on one thing until it’s done, then move on to the next, having a fistful of crap to do seems really daunting. I’m a little of both of these, so I need to compromise in my life a lot to get what I want out of it.
What I want to give you today is not a life plan of how to multi-task forever, but things you can do now to help you. Because coming up with a new life plan to get your shit done is a task in itself. Here’s some stuff I do that helps me:
- KNOW WHAT PART OF YOUR DAY IS THE BLACK HOLE. I’m going to get reeeallly tired around 3:30 and need a break. Don’t try to work through it, you’re just going to make yourself more tired and pissed off. Take the break. Take a 15 minute nap so you can work faster when you’re conscious again. Drink the coffee. People may say take a walk, but if I do that, I probably will never start my stuff again. I suggest doing 10 arm circles forward and 10 backward which is proven to increase creative thinking. Do that shit. But know you can’t do All The Shit if you try to muscle over the part of your day that never works out. Also known as: The Time Of Day Sam Freaks Out. Give in to it. You ain’t accomplishing nuthin’.
- DON’T DEMAND PERFECT CONDITIONS. We all have our perfect working conditions in mind. I’ll never get those. But I can arrange for my non-negotiables and let the rest slide. I need to have a cleared up workspace. Would I like to work in a house that is clean top to bottom? Yes. Can I? Never, not even once. If I try to make it that way before I get moving, I’ll never get work done. Clean your area, and get your shit done. That’s your oasis, your corner of the world, don’t let anyone defile it.
- FIGURE OUT IF YOU’RE A “GET THE SHIT DONE AND RELAX” PERSON OR A “DO THE SHIT AT YOUR OWN PACE AND RELAX IN BETWEEN” PERSON. Again, you may have a little of both like me. Editing jobs are a “get the shit down at your own pace” kind of work. So to make up for the time I might lose doing that, I pick a couple of other things I’ll do until they get done, fast and furious, so they don’t all loom ahead of me. This could be a blog post, the laundry, the gym, whatever. I’ll say “I’m going to get all this shit done in an hour,” and then I race myself basically. Voila, shit done. Now you can slow down a little. A little.
- INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING THAT YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR SHIT DONE SO YOU CAN’T PLAY CONNECT FOUR RIGHT NOW, JUST PLAY CONNECT FOUR. I feel better after doing the kid thing instead of pawning it off to muscle through my work. Sure, I’ll sometimes end up doing way too much kid stuff and not enough work and vice versa. I don’t say yes to every kid game, but I’ll give myself 10 minutes an hour or somesuch to do it. Then I don’t feel like a jerk, and I’m more productive, too.
- EAT YOUR DAMN MEALS OR AT LEAST SNACK NORMALLY. Don’t starve yourself because you don’t have time to eat. Eat the meal. You’ll feel better and maybe won’t eat that entire package of cookies. Or maybe you will. I don’t know.
- KNOW WHAT KIND OF EMAILER/TWITTERER/FACEBOOKER YOU ARE. I do best answering my emails as they show up, tweeting as I see fit, facebooking never. I don’t save it all up and do it in one fell swoop. You might do better giving yourself 10 minutes an hour to do this stuff. Or an hour at the end of a day, or whatever. But know what makes you happiest to do, and do that. If you’re happy and comfortable, you’ll work better.
- SHOWER WHEN YOU GET OUT OF BED. Don’t do all the other crap first, except make the coffee. Always do that first.
- WRITE IT ALL DOWN. You guys make lists of your shit to do, right? You have to do that. Even if your shit is the same shit every day, you’ll feel a lot better crossing some of that stuff off. If you have GIANT things to do, break it into smaller segments. EDIT BOOK is not a do-able task. COMPLETE 5 PAGES written 6 times though on the list gets you 30 pages done, and look, you get to cross stuff off. BOOM.
- TAKE 2 MINUTES AND READ A BOOK. Like, a few times a day. Feel better about life. Recommence work.
- SHUT THE TV OFF AND PUT MUSIC ON. They both affect mood. TV makes your mood relaxed and sedentery. Music pumps you up, even slow music. Do that thing, then. NO TV.
- SMILE AND LAUGH. It’s a fact that even if you fake smile and/or fake laugh, you’re happier. If you’re happier, you work better. I do this all day. If your day sucks out loud, laugh about it or it will suck forever.
- TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU LIKE/LOVE/ADMIRE THEM. A friend on the phone, on Twitter, in your face right now. Tell them what awesome thing they do or say or whatever that makes you happy, and they half the time will say something you do that makes them happy, and suddenly your day isn’t so out of control. Suddenly, you feel pretty awesome, and you made someone else feel awesome too.
- FREAK OUT IF YOU HAVE TO. I freak out all the time. Take the time to freak out. As much time as you need. Then get your shit done. If you give yourself what you need, you’ll get what you need to done. Sometimes I need to freak out over all the stuff I have to do. So I vegg out for a few minutes, cry if I have to, play a video game and then get my shit done.
- WHEN YOUR LIFE IS TOO MANIACAL TO EVEN BELIEVE, PRETEND IT’S A SITCOM. You think I don’t do this? I do. I pretend there’s a camera somewhere with some audience on the other side thinking this whole thing is pretty goddamn funny, and then I do, too. Then I get my shit done.
What I’ve come to realize writing this is that the things that make me a good multi-tasker are not the nuts and bolts of getting it done, but the mindset I do it in. The mental capacity needed to do a crap ton of different things in one day is enormous. So I try to take care of myself mentally all day long, rather than burn myself out and reignite after I’ve done what I need to do. Don’t put a Band-aid on your mental injury from doing too much. Create an environment in your head that supports you in what you need to get done. Know what makes you happy, whether it be endless coffee, lots of laughter, unicorns, wearing sweatpants with great panties underneath, or whatever, and make sure that it sets the pace for the day for you, doesn’t become another thing to do. Be good to yourself, and your day will be good to you. Super-Confuciusy, I know.