3 Cures for Spring Fever Distraction
I have heard the term spring fever, and I always thought it was a myth, but now I’m not so sure. My sleep has been disrupted; I can’t focus. I’m constantly jumping from task to task. And it’s not in a productive look-how-much-I-can-handle-all-at-once kind of way. More in a spinning plate act with lots of broken China kind of way. Maybe it’s spring fever and maybe it’s just a phase in my life. Who knows?
Either way, I find myself trapped in a paradox where it feels like every second of the day is occupied with a task or an activity and yet at the end of the day, I still don’t feel like I’ve made any headway the mountain of things that need to get done.
I imagine this is a disappointing confession coming from a “motivational life coach.” I assure you, I share in your disappointment. Fortunately, when I find myself in this productivity vortex, I have a bag of tricks to turn to. I dug through the bag and here is what I’ve found that has been helpful in the past few weeks and will hopefully be a sufficient antidote to my Spring Fever. And maybe yours.
Distinguish between Activity vs. Productivity. Just because you are “doing” something every moment of the day, does not mean you are being productive. Productivity suggests that there will be a final product produced—tangible or otherwise. Take a moment to ask yourself, what you are achieving with this activity. How important is it? How urgent is it? Keep in mind urgent does NOT equal important.
Accept what is not going to get done. This is a tough one, but it can be pretty freeing once you lean into it. Everyone gets just 24 hours in a day. Not everything is going to fit into your day. I repeat: Not everything is going to fit into your day. Say it with me!! “Not everything is going to fit into my day!!!” SO...you have two choices. You can act as if the laws of the universe don’t apply to you and believe that by some break in the time space continuum you will accomplish everything you could possibly want to accomplish in one day.
Alternatively, you can be truthful and accepting of how much time you have available and how long each task on your list will take. If you want to be wildly honest with yourself, you can leave some buffer time around each task. In short: do less.
Make to-DONE list: This final suggestion comes with an optional homework assignment. Do you have a to-do list? What's on it? How long have the items been there. Are there any items that, if you were honest with yourself, you would just cross out because you’re never going to do them anyway. I’ve been making a to-DONE list every few days since my spring fever kicked in. As I go through my day or sometimes at the end of the day, I put together a to-done list. Determining what counts and what doesn’t depends. For instance, if it is a tough day when I’m spinning my wheels, drinking enough water counts. If it’s a better day, I only count things I wouldn’t have done anyway.
Either way, I look back over my day and think, “Wow look at how much I got done!” (Even if it wasn’t what I planned to get done.)
Here is a simple homework assignment that will help you use a to-DONE list to improve your to-do list:
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Step #1 Make a to-DONE list Pick a day to make a to-DONE list on your phone or a piece of paper. Be as specific as you want to create an inventory of tasks you completed that day. (Getting gas, work tasks, paying bills, reading...) You can keep a running tally or just record everything at the end of the day.
Step #2 Sort the items into two categories: Activity and Productivity This is totally subjective, so only you can define what is classified as active and what is productive. As a general guideline, think about which items serve your big picture goals or create a better quality of life for yourself. Things to think about each item:
How did it fit into your long-term goals?
Who else benefited from this task getting done?
How important was it?
How urgent was it?
What would be different if it hadn’t been done?
How did it make your life better?
Was it on the list for quality or quantity?
Step #3 Use what you observed to make a better to-do list. For this step, you can pull out an existing to-do list or create a brand new one. As you curate this new list ask yourself:
What items deserve to be on your to-do list?
What are things that no longer belong there?
How many items will you plan to check off in a day or a week?