The Startup
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The Startup

Dump 5 Harmless Lifestyle Mistakes (I Made) To Do Your Best Work

I was doing a lot of things without getting much done

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

My writing journey began on Medium. From there, I started making digital products on Gumroad. Things went great. Cool! Then, I heard the buzz about LinkedIn — let’s try, and that also caught a good pace. Okay, now I should have a book too. On it!

And I have clients too.

What started as a sloth-paced engagement soon consumed me in its entirety and challenged me in every way. While initially, it was easy to handle, as things began gathering mass, I found myself gasping for air.

I looked around and saw other writers running past me; I wondered how it was humanly possible to squeeze in so much without compromising other things in life.

“I can’t possibly work 24 hours!?”

And thankfully, I am not.

I will not say that you can cram any amount of work in a day if you want (not advisable also), but yes, you can always play it smart and get more out of a day with less effort.

1. Not taking breaks; all work

Well, the formula has always been the more you work, the more you achieve. And I stuck to that.

When my workload started increasing, I increased my working hours. I started getting up early and was right away on my desk. I was desperately trying to squeeze in as many work hours as possible.

Early mornings, late hours, anytime in between — my laptop was always open. It did not switch off.

Outcome: Exhaustion and directionless work.

What I do now:

  • Define my work hours. I sketched my whole day and established the working time. These are the times that I focus on my job.
  • Rather than squeezing in several hours, I now have more productive hours.
  • I learned to give myself some leeway and take breaks, giving time to myself to get back in the groove.

2. Not taming the distractions

The most notorious miscreant of all.

Distractions can be in the form of notifications, emails, messages, offers — the list is endless.

I started with the definition of work as any time that I was in front of the computer and doing anything related to writing, including the time I used to check a free course or a newsletter.

I was doing a lot of things, without getting much done.

What I do instead:

I have marked my writing territory. Certain activities qualify as writing. Rest are dumped into the distraction bin.

So, when I am writing, I keep away from these distractions by:

  • opening a single tab/ relevant tabs so that I don’t go wandering whenever a notification/mail pops up
  • using distraction-free apps like Effie (absolute delight)
  • keeping my phone behind the laptop
  • even switch off the doorbell sometimes

Again the same maxim — doing more than working more.

3. Not taking help

I thought I could manage writing alongside other works. And nothing will get affected. Everything will run smoothly.

As things started piling on my plate, I started accommodating them, my body getting used to the additional work burden. Little did I realize that it was taking a toll too.

What I do instead:

  • I take help from my family — hubby & daughter — delegated stuff to them.
  • From my neighbor (a darling). Receives my packages during work hours, giving me much-needed quiet time.
  • From peers. Two of them are writers. We have a symbiotic setup where we help each other in crunchy times. Lifesavers.

My point is help is all around, and taking help doesn’t undermine any work.

There’s no greatness in doing it all alone. Nobody will reward you for that.

4. Not recharging myself

When things get tough, neglect your body. That’s what we Millennials do all the time. The body comes last on the list of important things.

I was no different.

But sadly, I wasn’t like that initially. I cut down on the health rituals as things got tight around me. Not before long, the difference kicked in. I was fatigued all the time. And a throbbing headache. I knew it was time to get back to some routines.

What I do instead:

  • As I said, I start my day very early (4:45 am). But rather than working right away, I do my meditation (Sudarshan Kriya by Art of Living).
  • I can swear by my cups of hot water+black salt+lemon. I sip them throughout the day.
  • 39 minutes power nap. Why 39? Because 40 felt more. Just like supermarkets fix prices like $4.99 and not $5. Well, the rest gets me all jazzed up again.
  • Three sets of 10-min stretching. This is apart from my morning set of 20-min yoga.

I will not delve into the exact science, but it enables you to extract more work from a day without feeling drained.

5. Not separating the high-productive and low-productive hours

My nature of work has different flavors of jobs. Some require my utmost attention, while some demand less of it.

Writing is something when I have to be focused on, while things like checking emails and responding on social platforms are easy to focus on.

Without a proper plan, I was doing things whenever they popped up or whenever I had time.

Outcome: Total chaos and loss of control over things.

What I do instead:

Divide work based on focus. And allocate them throughout the day based on my productive times.

  • Writing is a high-focus activity that goes into my most productive times of the day.
  • Replying to readers is a low-focus activity that I squeeze in small slots during the day.
  • That way, I know I have an allotted time for work, and it helps me stay on top of things.

Finally…

We all get the same 24 hours in a day. Ya, ya, it is a cliche line, I know. But the hard truth, you would agree.

Yet every day is an opportunity to make the best of it. For me, it’s writing; for you, it might be something else. But applying these things will make a huge difference.

Just a thing or two:

  • Your reality is different than mine. So, you cannot replicate anyone else’s life schedule. Yes, you can take away some, add some to yours, and keep functioning better.
  • What works for me might not work for you. Don’t just ape. Listen, imbibe, implement, adjust — just like a cup of coffee.
  • Give every change a chance to bloom. Overnight success is a myth.
  • Just to let you know, each day will not be as productive as the other. Don’t hold on to the time that just zoomed past you, ignoring you. Train your mind to shift gears and go to the next moment.

The Medium Lipika is a writer ( a bit serious type). The LinkedIn Lipika is a thinker (cooler version). Meet me there!

And yes, if you need more help with your writing, I have some cool stuff, like Content planner, 15-Min Writing Exercises, & 30-Day Writing Journal, that you can grab for FREE.

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