Increasingly I am led to believe that honesty is truly the best policy. Not only being honest with others (which really is the only way you can have a good relationship with them) but also being honest with yourself.
I can’t count the amount of time I’ve made To-Do lists with 20 odd items on them and been disappointed at the end of the day if I’ve only done half of them. The amount of times I’ve set myself a word count to reach by the end of the hour and been gutted when I’m 50 or 100 or 300 words away.
Having goals and aspirations is great, but if you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me then not reaching goals can be the most destructive thing you can do to yourself. I know when I don’t reach a goal I’ve set myself not only am I disappointed in myself but I also become disheartened with the activity I’m doing and often that is the end of my productivity.
Recently I’ve started writing To-Do’s with two headings. Under the first heading are the things I absolutely must do today – things like doing the reading for next week’s class, washing up the mess I made the night before or writing a certain number of words for my dissertation. Under the second heading are the things I need to do but aren’t as urgent as the first. Things like writing a blog post, or putting on a second load of washing, or painting my nails. Not only does this mean I prioritise right from the start of the day, but I also feel great when I start crossing off things on the second list.
However, this has got to come with some stern talking from yourself. If you find yourself not doing tasks that you really should be doing (and you can’t just set lower total goals) you need to ask yourself why. Most of the time when I’m not doing the things I need to it’s because the thing I need to do is intimidating me, or because I can’t be bothered to put in the effort. In scenario’s like this (usually essay writing in my case) I find it really helpful to set lots of tiny goals with tiny rewards for achieving them – so long as all these tiny goals add up to the daily goal. For example, if I can write 250 words in the next half an hour I can get a biscuit with my cup of tea. If I go over the word limit or get so into it that I go over the time limit, I can watch a YouTube video. Small goals met boost my enthusiasm for a task, and usually mean that I perform better.
In summary – be honest with yourself. Be honest with what you can achieve in a day. If you’re consistently underachieving, ask yourself why and be honest with your answer. Being straight talking with yourself will really help, honestly.