A thing I read

You’re Not Lazy, Bored, or Unmotivated

“Just Do It” is the best advice because it’s the only advice that works.

When I started writing, I gave lots of specific tips in my articles: how to set goals, have a morning routine, be productive. But specifics are full of hindsight bias. I’m only giving you the final 10% that worked, and that worked for me in particular. The messy 90% of the journey that led me there? I left that out completely.

I struggle a lot with motivation and feeling disconnected from my work and goals. Up until recently I spent a lot of time reading articles about “productivity hacks” and defeating procrastination.

Eventually it occurred to me that most advice is garbage. Everyone lives in different circumstances and definitive instructions for your work schedule or morning routine make no sense. The only way to succeed is to try a bunch of tactics for yourself and mix and match until something feels right.

I keep my phone next to my bed and check Instagram every morning, first thing when I wake up. In the world of morning routine advice, this is a cardinal sin. But it works for me.

Since puberty, waking up has been a unique form of torture. I’ve snoozed and slept through countless alarms. I’ve even tried putting my alarm across the room, only to discover that I can turn it off, get back in bed, and easily fall asleep again. My preferred wake up style is lying in bed for at least 10 minutes, getting myself accustomed to the idea of consciousness before I’m ready to throw off the covers and rise from my pillow nest. The trouble is actually staying awake for those 10 minutes, which is where Instagram comes in. It’s readily available and mindless enough that I don’t really need to be awake to scroll, but it’s just engaging enough that it won’t put me back to sleep.

Waking up has become much easier since starting my morning Instagram routine. But it’s clearly not for everyone. I’ve got solid enough boundaries that I don’t check anything else while in bed—no work email or news. And I’ve made sure to curate my feed so that I’m only seeing stuff I actually like and that makes me feel good (here are a few that bring me the most joy: cute foxes, bird comics, happiness + food).

For a while I felt bad about my morning Insta habit, because EVERYONE was talking about how bad it was to look at your phone upon waking up. But now I’m comfortable with the obvious realization that (duh) everyone is different, and I just need to do what works for me (after going through a lot of trial and error to figure that out) and forget the other advice.

How I do goals

Everyone does goals differently. We approach them annually on January 1st or around back to school time. We fix them as permanent staples in our year or revisit and revise every few months. We have a long list of 20 aspirational to-dos or simply one big dream. I always like seeing the different ways people work on getting what they want out of life, so here’s how I do it.

I package my goals according to four major themes: work, life, learning and health (and yes, you better believe I color code them in all my list making).

Work goals encompass anything related to what I do to make money. Things like client projects, admin/billing, or working on aspirational projects I hope will someday contribute to my income.

My current work goals include:

  • Maintaining all my regularly scheduled work duties.
  • Holding myself to scheduled work blocks instead of just working when I feel like it (hello to the challenges of being your own boss and working from home!!!)
  • Exploring a few new avenues for making money and being more creative.

Life goals are things I do to maintain day to day functionality, including chores, errands, and home projects.

My current life goals include:

  • Cleaning unwanted stuff out of the house and donating or recycling it (this one is ALWAYS on my list—how do I have this much stuff??)
  • Sticking to a chore schedule so I’m not constantly frazzled by a messy house.
  • Giving a little DIY update to a few pieces of furniture I’m not totally in love with.

Learning goals include anything I’m interested in learning. That might be brushing up on skills I need for work or investigating something I might want to pursue.

My current learning goals include:

  • Doing one Creative Live course per month to keep my ideas fresh and my mind interested. Anyone else use this site? It has so much useful info for free—I love it!  
  • Reading a few chapters a week from this book to brush up some skills I need for work. 
  • Learning about managing my money and investing. This is one I’ve been putting off for a long time because it’s intimidating as hell

Health goals are my favorite because this is where I prioritize my mental and physical health. Anything that keeps me happy and healthy goes into this category, like planning trips, trying a new recipe, scheduling exercise, or making doctor appointments.

My current health goals include: 

  • Trying a new recipe once a month to keep things interesting in the kitchen. My favorite spots to find new recipes are Joy the Baker, The Kitchn, and Love & Lemons.
  • Doing fun outside fall activities like visiting the cider mill, apple picking, and going on hikes.
  • Keeping up with a weekly exercise routine that my boyfriend and I have recently embarked on together. 

How do you do goals? What are you working on right now?