Hello hello love. Here are some tips I think will help, mixed in with a bit of nagging, wrapped up with some tough love!
So here we are. First, I’d like to commend you for recognizing that it’s time to get back on the hamster wheel so soon. You’ve a month left, which is ample enough.
- Don’t beat yourself up with time lost
You might be thinking you should’ve gotten up sooner, or done more, or done something some time ago. That doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, I’m an advocate of owning up to your faults, but for one second - recognize it, acknowledge it, and then move the hell on. Never mull on it unless it poses a problem and mulling on it would fix it. So stop all those thoughts - make a firm decision that you will drop all berating, toxic, or otherwise negative thoughts at the door. It won’t go away soon, you’ll need to keep stopping yourself mid-thought, but try to get it down. It’s a simple thing to start with, and I believe you can do this much. My mom always tells me, once someone apologizes, take their apology and leave it at that. The resentment won’t go away quickly, but release it. And I believe when you apologize to yourself, you should forgive yourself, and release.
So please release it.
- The three Ps I just made up - paper, pen & plan (or phone, pad & plan)
I tried lmao. Phones be ruining everything. If you didn’t get it tho, by pad, I meant notepad or memo or whatever’s on phones these days. Specialized apps, all of it. It’s just that none of them started with a P and I -
Get your preferred medium of…recording stuff, and don’t make a plan. Yet. I want you to write down a list of things you need to get down before the month is up. A sentence per task. For example:
- Get more connections on LinkedIn
- Save up 20% of my allowance
- Finish a writing commission
- Finish a course I signed up for
So something like that. One liners you need to finish up. And then don’t plan yet. After you’re done listing everything that needs to get done, you split the page in half (or just write it next to it in parentheses on your phone like this) and write “constraints”. Not emotional ones at first - try and write a logical constraint. Like for the course I signed up for, the logical constraint would be I have no time for it anymore because I got something better - an internship opportunity - and the emotional constraint would be I’m not interested in it anymore, or I don’t wanna lol. So write up some logical constraints. Is the workload a lot? Are you family members sending you off to do stuff for them and you have no choice but to do them and forsake your time? Do you not have an empty notebook to get started? These are all valid hurdles you may face.
Now, if you have some that have no constraints yet, write your emotional ones. You don’t want to. You’d rather do something else. Fanfiction. All of that.
Look back at your list. What’s causing the emotional ones? How can you get rid of the logical ones? Remove them, run away from them, address them, or ignore them - pick one.
So when I feel like I should get up and do something, I’m learning to seize that feeling prematurely and do it. I say prematurely because you know when the thought matures, you’re gonna talk yourself out of it or dismiss it, so you gotta grab that as soon as it crosses your mind. How to stop doing what you’re doing immediately? Remove access to the distraction. And I don’t mean use those apps - although if it works for you, go on with your bad self. If not, do the old school method of throwing your phone to the roof of your cupboard.
Yeah. I had this period of time where nothing stopped me from indulging in fanficion - not even deadlines and consequences, which are the biggest things that drive me to do stuff, and the only way I could get over it was to throw my phone over the cupboard. I gave myself a hurdle to stop me from pulling it back towards myself, and not only that, imagine the shame of getting a chair, dragging it all the way to the cupboard, climbing up on that thing, and then pulling your phone down - just squeezing lemon juice in your damn eye and living with that burn. So, put a hurdle up.
(cupboard = dresser btw, not sure which word y’all use so)
- You don’t need a whole lot to get started
Going back to not having an empty notebook. There was a time I needed one to get started, but I didn’t want to go out and buy one, and so I kept putting off my work and blaming the fact that I don’t have a notebook. You don’t really need the notebook to get started. I could’ve easily pulled out my laptop and used One Note or MS Word or whatever if I really wanted to work. I mean I hate using digital stuff, but I could’ve sucked it up if I really didn’t want to go out and really wanted to work. The right answer was I really didn’t want to work, not the notebook.
Just start. Screw the notebook, screw your shitty pen, screw the messy table - just start. Shove all the mess to the edge and cram your arms in that tiny space and just start. You don’t need highlighters or a bottle of water or quiet time or the lights dimmed three notches down or your face moisturized or your plants watered - just start.
Not saying all of that is unnecessary, or wouldn’t help, but when it comes down to it, you don’t need all that to start. Don’t waste your time preparing to study or work. Just start.
Just start. Get your scrappy paper that’s ¼ cut in a weird angle and just start.
- One thing is better than nothing
I know I’ve said that a whole lot. A WHOLE LOT. But it’s true, and you truly need to take that to heart. If you’ve scratched one thing off your list, that’s good.
But here’s what I’d do if I felt like I needed to do more.
First, seize that feeling. Next, do more. Start a little mantra of, “Just one more!” and do it like you’re taking one more cookie out the cookie jar. One more cupcake. One more chip. One more practice question. Romanticize it. Say it like you desperately want it, even if you don’t and do it. Oftentimes it’s the start that has us feeling some type of way, but once you accept what it is - as in you start eating it a little more quickly - you’ll sink into it and release that feeling. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself done with one more thing.
Still tho, one thing today is one thing off your plate. Celebrate that, and promise you’ll do one more - at that moment or some other time.
Lesson from Naruto: give yourself a self-rule!
So there was this character in Naruto that was a total failure. He didn’t make it into the ninja academy, so he decided to give himself a self-rule: “If I run 500 laps, I’ll be accepted as an alternate.” which means he’ll be placed as a back up in case an already accepted student drops out. His father finds out, scolds him, and says that’s not a self-rule. That’s a wish. A self-rule doesn’t involve anyone else. A failure to accomplish what you say is accountable to you. Not circumstance, not anyone else.
His father says, “Because of that [a self-rule on your self only], you are able to gather your strengths and focus on your efforts…That is how a self-rule works!” So how does the character change it? “If I can’t do 500 laps on my hands, I’ll do 500 push-ups!”
You see what I’m going for?
I am not saying do 500 laps on your hands - this is a ninja anime we’re talking about here - I’m saying apply a self-rule that keeps you accountable and feeds into your efforts. Say, “If I can’t do ten practice questions, I’ll do ten rounds of this example question!” Give yourself an alternative you have to do if you fail your first attempt, and have it be of the same magnitude. What happens if you can’t do both? Keep adding on of course! The character would say, “If I can’t do 500 laps on my hands, I’ll do 500 push-ups! And if I can’t do 500 push-ups, I’ll do 500 sit-ups!”
Limitations exist, and you may not be able to get it the first few times, but eventual, the character manages to do 5000 laps - and he falls tiredly into his father’s waiting arms.
Just a little nice bonus I thought would be fun to add. I do something like this, but not as well thought out of course - I’d say something like, “I’ll do process design questions right now, and if I give up half-way, chemical separation processes is waiting for me.”
I thought I’d stop here because it’s getting kind of ramble-y and I think this’ll be enough of a push to get you started. Maybe not a push even - a nice little pat from your friend that’ll evolve into a push by your fine self. You can do it. Just start LOL.
I’mma end this with a positive note from that same episode of Naruto. Here’s a quote from that father to his son when he asked him why he was so chipper when he failed so much and couldn’t be “strong” (as in overcome the obstacles in his way). I see this in our lives, be it with friendships, biting your tongue when your boss yells at you, or giving up after failing a class.
“True victory isn’t about winning from someone strong. It’s about defending what’s important to you!”