Out of all the things you learn in school managing your mental health and productivity as an adult human is not really one of them. There is no teacher or mentor to hold us accountable for how we are doing. We have to find a way to do right by ourselves. There are always good things and bad things going on, and things that you’re trying to improve. Let’s focus on the things we do have control over (some, like our societal constraints, we do not). Here are some resources that I recommend that made a great deal of positive change for health and productivity in my life in the past 7 years.
Also acknowledging that the Covid 19 situation whatever it may be at the time you are reading this has forever changed all of our previous normal of health and productivity and we must take that into account as well.
Planning ahead- health and productivity
Our innate need for planning ahead differs from one person to the other. If you would like to make some sort of plan, these tips can help:
1. Set themes, not goals
It is customary to set New Year’s resolutions, but the truth is most people have trouble sticking to them. Partially because adopting new habits is hard but also because even though our core values rarely change, our more surface-level preferences, moods change during the course of a year, so what felt like a good idea in January might shift in importance by July. This might be due to life events we do not foresee or just our natural change and growth. The below video, therefore, suggests a slightly more malleable tool: setting themes. A guiding principle if you will for your year, or a season if you wish. Your Theme
2. Set systems that help you reach your goals
Goals are specific, like “I want to exercise more”. But just writing that goal down won’t get you there. You need a plan, a system, like “I will do some form of exercise 3 times a week” that will keep you on track to reach that goal. More on this below:
the one habit that is changing my life: set systems rather than goals
the one habit you need: how to set systems (vs goals) ft. tidy with me
3. Plan the year in alignment with your values
Why do we have the goals and plans that we do? Is it because other people also have such goals or is it something that is rooted in one of our beliefs? Usually a mix of both. Formal education trains us to keep track of external goalposts: these might change over time or we might get there and realize that it doesn’t satisfy us. So my suggestion is to focus more inward. Your own internal compass changes less, serves you better as a guide. Here’s a step-by-step exercise for you to map those out and plan your year. Whenever you are reading this.
how to get your life together: discover your values, live with purpose & set goals for a FULL life
Another way to hash out what you would like your future to look like is to ask yourself: What would your best year(s) look like? Aim high! Instead of being realistic. Come up with where do I see myself in 5 years examples for yourself. What would be the absolute best? Below are two resources to guide you.
How to Plan the Next 5 Years of Your Life
How to Design Your Perfect Day with Journaling
How to get the things done that you planned?
Getting things done takes willpower, which is a finite resource. It is linked to our mental health, which – like our physical health – will fluctuate throughout time. So you need to take care of it, just like your physical health. One will positively or negatively influence the other. Here are some tips below on how to keep things easier for yourself.
1. Manage your space
Here are two videos about how to manage working from home which has become the new reality for many of us. The TLDR is that when working from home you need to manage your space to help trick your brain into working and recharging in different spots.
working & studying from home | 7 tips for staying healthy & productive
2. Take care of yourself!
If you break a leg, you know you shouldn’t still push yourself to do your daily running. The same is true for your mental health. Here are some resources to help you maneuver your not-so-good days.
Firstly, you can manage the highs and the lows to deviate less from your baseline, with some mindset practices like these: How I Became Mentally Strong [CC]
Anxiety and depression also is part of many people’s lives (including mine). Many, for example, struggle with imposter syndrome in the workplace. Here are 2 videos that illustrate via sarcastically funny act-outs, how anxiety and depression can act in your head. If you feel like this resembles how you talk in your head, then I encourage you to seek help. You are not alone.
Dealing With Anxiety
When you do have a not-so-good day, be armed with some hacks, habits that will make it easier for you. Here are some tips to start:
10 Tips for a Bad Day (for actual everyday humans) Ft. BetterHelp
Productivity While Depressed/Anxious | Positive Psychology
How to get stuff done when you are depressed | Jessica Gimeno | TEDxPilsenWomen
And sometimes, you also just need a day off, and that’s okay: Calling In “Mentally Ill” To Work?!
3. Actually getting the thing done- health and productivity
There are numerous productivity methods out there and everyone swears by the one they are currently using. My experience has been that different methods have worked best at different times. Also, I usually tweaked something about the method to make it work better for me personally. It doesn’t matter exactly what method you choose as long as it works for you. Here is a quiz for you to help choose your method if you don’t already have one. These videos will also help:
Part of getting things done is keeping track of tasks, thoughts, progress. There are different apps and tools for this, again choose what works best for you. One that I recommend checking out is the Bullet Journal method, which I myself have used for a number of years, and still use occasionally.