What To Do When you are in a Non-productive rut
I think productivity makes us feel alive. It makes us feel like we are giving value to the world and for many of us, definitely myself included, that is part of what makes up a good day. On the days we’ve done nothing and sat and watched Netflix all day it feels like a waste. I can hear GaryVee in my ear saying “I worked everyday of my twenties, I didn’t have one weekend off” and I think, well that’s it, I’m doomed for failure. Being productive can be hard to grapple with because it is one of things that is completely defined by you as success and it is also never ending. For a lot of us, we try to battle feeling productive with a ‘to do’ list. You write down four or five things you want to do today and you feel like it can be deemed a successful day if you do some, if not all of them. After a good run of productive days, somethings though we can hit a rut.
You all of a sudden don’t really see the point in doing what you are doing. For me that means I haven’t wrote for six days which is totally not like me and I can feel the likelihood of me writing two hundred articles this year just dwindling away. It’s not a good feeling but then it’s backed by the feeling of “well there isn’t much point anyway”. When you are in a rut, it’s quite easy to find things to help you solidify reasons to stay there.
Well, I was productive for the last two weeks and I got nowhere.
Well, this writing thing isn’t really working out anyway.
And that is the confirmation bias coming into play. When we feel negative it’s as though our minds gravitate to other things that make us confirm that it’s true. Like when you wake up in a bad mood and a car pulls out on you, then you say to yourself “see I told you it was going to be a bad day”. (or maybe it’s just me that talks to myself). It’s the same reason for the last week I’ve been feeling like writing isn’t working. It’s because my mindset is dictating the reality. As I’ve been learning, we determine what is reality. Our perception is our reality. It’s the same reason why two people can attend the exact same event and feel as though they had two completely different experiences. One could come out absolutely elated and on top of the world, the other could feel like it was complete junk and totally pointless.
Well, here’s one quote to think about “comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt.
When you are in rut, looking at how great everybody else is doing and how you pale in comparison it’s hard to feel any better. In actual fact you start to feel a lot worse. We feel the weight of life in different capacities on different days and comparing, when you are already low is adding more weight.
Another thing to consider is capitalising on the ‘do something principle’. So you don’t want to go for an hour cycle or work on your side-project or even do the pots. And that’s fine. Just do something. Even it’s a little thing like putting the washing in or making the bed. The do something principle is just to get the ball rolling. You just need to start. And yeah I get it, if you’re in the mood to do nothing, you probably don’t want to do anything. But there are things that you do everyday and those are your habits. So in times of feeling like you are in a rut… lean into your habits to help you. Do the things you do everyday.
Develop a four day game plan. With day one being the just doing a little bit. It’s hard when you are in a rut to start doing anything at all. It feels like there is no real point in any of it and that binging on Netflix is the way forward. However, doing one small thing and progressing over the next four days gives yourself some space and time to adjust from doing naff all to doing something. Four days is enough of a manageable time to not be overwhelmed by but also doesn’t feel so far in the future there’s no point doing anything today.
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on April 18, 2020.