And, though I try to live green and move towards digital solutions whenever possible, one area in which I felt there was a lack of commitment was my productivity. For months I'd wake up, dress in the shabbiest clothes I could absentmindedly grab from my closet (sometimes, I admit, they weren't always clean) and find a multitude of excuses not to work. When you are you're own boss, this is not good. Not good at all. It was a self-indulgent funk and, while we all need self-indulgence on occasion, parking there permanently is dangerous.
Oh, I kept a Google calendar, and my phone calendar with notifications and reminders, but I didn't feel that kept me accountable. Then, one day while searching "Productivity for the self-employed" on YouTube, I stumbled into the black hole of planner videos and stationary addictions.
There's no return from this darkness.
I used to keep journals as a teen. I loved to write. I loved the smell of new journals and blank books. I used to buy them, not to use them, even, but to be reminded of the promise those blank pages held. Crazy, I know.
But there's something about the physical act of writing that, dare I say it, typing will never match. There's a quickening in my soul when I journal or write, hold a beautiful fountain pen in my hand (yes, an addiction to pens is also a thing), and feel the light scrap of it across the stark expanse of paper. It is its own poetry, I suppose, and it's a gorgeous thing to behold.
So, I bought a new planner. I even bought a second planner that I cannibalized because I loved it's layout, and I cut it down to fit in my ring-bound planner. I decorated the pages with washi tape and motivational quotes, I filled in my month-at-a-glance with stickers to remind me which days are dedicated to which tasks. And, I'll be honest, I felt my anxiety melt away. All the stress I'd been placing on myself to be productive, and then to fail at it, was an emotional nightmare, and the physical act of planning, writing plans, setting goals and holding myself accountable was a pleasant undoing of the anxiety that had begun to build. I spent an afternoon penciling in my tasks, detailing tutorials or videos or projects in the notes, and I've since stuck to each page like glue, ticking off one than another and feeling a rush of accomplishment. It's been a fabulous journey.
I started to get dressed for the day. I know, radical right? But really, I put on nice clothes, did my hair, applied make-up, even if only to sit at my desk in the comfort of my own home, because something about the act flipped a switch, told my brain and body it was time to work and excuses wouldn't fly. And my productivity continued to improve. I even keep journals for food and diet, which also holds me accountable. I write down recipes, prep for a week of health by logging my exercise. All of these things, though they may not seem directly related to "work", motivated me to.... well... work.
I know it seems old school, actually stepping away from our digital reliance, and stepping back into a love with paper, but it's helped. If you find yourself unable to commit to the levels of productivity to which you aspire, might I suggest you try a pocket planner? It might surprise you. Make it fun, dress it up, decorate it. Whatever you have to do to want to plan, to want to tick off your to-dos. Who knows what you can accomplish then?