I woke up this morning and the lightness and determination that I had felt the night before had disappeared. I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed. I know that I was partly tired after a late night, but I had slept in so that really wasn’t a good enough excuse. Something was just lacking. It was strange really – even though I had had this feeling before. I knew I wanted to get up and get going and I also knew that I had a long list of things that I wanted to get done that day, but even acknowledging those things was still not enough motivation for me to get up and get going. As I was experiencing this inner struggle, I was also trying to battle negative thoughts in my mind that were severely criticizing me for not acting – you’re lazy; what in the world is wrong with you; you’ve lost your edge … the combination was not good. After realizing that I had spent over an hour scrolling through things online, I managed to get up. That’s when I decided, I’m just going to do ONE thing. I’m going to get that one thing done and then I’ll see how I feel and move on to the next.
Although I had several things on my to-do list, I decided to start with a small, specific task that was also productive. I started with reorganizing my jiu-jitsu training bag. I had used the bag when I traveled to my yoga retreat, so all the things I would normally have in there for training had been taken out. Since I wanted to go to class that evening, I thought that this would be the perfect small, simple task that can get me started. It took me about half an hour to empty my bag and repack it with the things I needed for class. Once I was done, I felt good. I felt like I had achieved something – a task that had I not done it this morning would have probably resulted in me frantically trying to get it done (and probably forgetting something) at the last minute just before class. Task 1 complete.
On to task 2. The second task was a much bigger one. There’s a cupboard in my bedroom that I open several times a day. It’s got two shelves on which I place things that I use on a daily basis – my daily jewelry, body lotion, face cream, deodorant … you get the point. Since the spot is so convenient and easily accessible, over the past couple of months it also became a dumping ground for little things that I intended put ‘put away later.’ As a result, the clutter accumulated. I would grit my teeth in frustration as I would reach for a hairband and knock over a jar of safety pins. The clutter was growing as was my annoyance … as was the size of the task! Suddenly it wasn’t just about folding away my scarf and putting my watch back in its box. No. It was about untangling the hairdryer wires, figuring out what to do with all my hairbands, putting away my toiletries that I had packed for travel, sifting through all the odds and ends. Today I decided – no more. I am going to tackle this cupboard.
As I emptied everything into a large bag and started sorting through things on my bed, my moments of relief from the de-cluttering process were followed by moments of frustration and annoyance … at myself. Why didn’t I address this earlier? Why have I held on to these things? Why in the world do I have so many eye liner/lip liner sharpeners (actually it’s because each time I buy a new one, it comes with a new sharpener) – so the real question is, why haven’t I thrown out the old sharpeners? The negative thoughts were outweighing the fact that I was actually taking on this task. I was actually doing something about it and making a positive change. It made me wonder, why am I being so hard on myself for no reason?
It just so happened that as I was alternating between clearing out and sitting at my desk to get some work done (I alternated, 20 minutes of de-clutter and 20 minutes of work), something caught my eye on my Facebook feed. All I saw was ‘This Woman Nails why Motivation is Garbage’. Interested in having something on in the background, I pressed play. I was just over a minute in when she said: “In order to … do all those things you know you want to do … you’re going to have to do things that are difficult, uncertain, or scary” … and I decided that I didn’t want to listen to the 4 minute clip. I wanted to hear the whole thing. The whole video is just under 50 minutes long. I didn’t listen to it in one sitting but did get through the whole thing. I could relate to so many of the things Mel Robbins was talking about. From the ‘tomorrow is the new me’ thoughts (which is similar to the thoughts I had before going to bed last night and my reaction the following morning) to her discussion about anxiety and negative self-talk. In fact, it was even relevant to what those negative questions I had in my head as I was de-cluttering my closet. Anyway. I really enjoyed the video, and if you have the time, I urge you to watch it. If you’re short on time, here are a few points that I think are really worth listening to:
14:58 – 18:20 Tomorrow is the new me.
20:30 – 25:30 The Five Second Rule
30:00-35:00 About anxiety and worry and how to stop it
42:30-44:00 Recognizing how decisions are ours to make
So, I had this playing in the background as I de-cluttered, pressing pause only when I had to sit down to work, and it really made a difference. I felt like I had already started off my day well seeing that when I woke up all I really wanted to do was just lie in bed all day. My target of accomplishing one small task made me feel productive and led me to the second task. Now, tackling the second task, I knew I was getting even more done. Each time I felt myself drifting towards doubt and hesitation I shook it off and reset my focus (though I’ve always counted down from 3 instead of 5 – hearing Mel Robbins’ explanation as to why it works was fascinating and something I had never thought of before). To help me push through my task I also followed the one-minute rule from Gretchen Ruben’s podcast:
Instead starting making separate piles of things to ‘put away later’, I put them away immediately if they had a specific place to go. Bandaids etc. went in the first aid drawer, toiletries went into the proper containers/shelves in the bathroom; cosmetics ‘to try’ that hadn’t been tried in the last 6 months were tossed, cardboard was recycled, and so forth. Bit by bit the space started to clear and things started to look so much better. As always, as the clutter cleared, so did my stress.
So all in all, it’s been a productive day. I got things done. I learned something new. I felt accomplished and happy as I got ready to go to bed. Will I wake up tomorrow morning and experience the same hesitations and fears? Who knows? All I know is that I won’t worry about it tonight. Tomorrow is another day and I know that I have all the tools I need to accomplish the things I want – it’s just about getting up and starting.
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