Hello all of my Financial Freedom Fighters and Frugalites! It has been quite a while hasn’t it? I inhaled the fresh air this morning (and several mornings prior), and upon my exhale realized I now have the time to get heavily back into my blog and my writing. It’s a great feeling, but bubbling and simmering just below the surface of that great feeling were, and still are, a cauldron of not so great feelings.
Looking back over the past months–primarily December through February–I notice that a lot of my time was taken up by getting the house ready for move in, completing paperwork, holidays, vacation, moving, and classes. The depressing fact though, is that all of this business has been my excuse for barely writing or touching the blog. Time for a little painful self-reflection!
What a Great Excuse
“Oh, man. I’ve gotta go over to the house and paint tonight.”
“Well, I had class until 8:30, so I didn’t have time.”
“Every weekend I’m busy or away from home!”
These all sound like perfectly valid excuses right? Well, they, uh…are, just like having to take care of your child is valid, like how being forced to stay late at work is valid. But what you need to do here is dig a little deeper and try to read in between the lines of those excuses.
Here is what I see when I look back on those excuses:
“Oh, man. I’ve gotta go over to the house and paint tonight…but I really only have to do that for two hours, and I can spend the last hour and a half of the night writing.”
“Well, I had class until 8:30, so I didn’t have time…but I only have class two days a week, so that leaves three nights open for creativity and productivity.”
“Every weekend I’m busy or away from home…except I can write when I’m away from home because I have a laptop and I’m not constantly busy when I’m away.”
Or, my personal favorite:
“I’ll just play one round of a video game before I jump into things”….three rounds later, “Oh, damn! It’s 9:30. Might as well play another one before bed. No way I’m going to get anything done now.”
Look at that! I bet you have a lot less sympathy for me now, huh? I know I do, and it really irks me because I know I could have been doing something great and productive with that time.
What Stopped Me
Procrastination and laziness were the big two things that stopped me, and usually, are the things that stop us all. However, when I broke it down, there were a few things in particular I noticed:
1. I stopped doing things
It may seem obvious at this juncture, but what really screwed things up for me was stopping what I was doing.
When I stopped putting in the effort to get things done after work, my productivity and output waned. This went for all things. First, I stopped being as active on the website, then I wasn’t writing as much, until finally, I wasn’t even going to the gym consistently anymore.
2. When I stopped doing things, I lost the habit
Now this, right here, is probably more critical to understanding the de-motivation than just my stopping doing things. If you stop doing things, but start doing them soon afterwards, you can probably be in decent shape as far as retaining your habits.
However, if you don’t get back into it soon enough, a lull can set in, and it becomes much more difficult to get back into the swing of things; you lost your habit, man! There are plenty of scientific ways to build habits, and we should try to do the best we can to build good habits. The bad thing about bad habits though, is that they are easy to keep doing because they are comfortable, and they are easy, both from a caloric standpoint (require less energy), from a mental standpoint (they are easy), but it isn’t the bad habits that make life worth living, it is the good habits.
How I’m Overcoming The Grip of Laziness
Over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve realized how much time I’ve wasted and how much procrastinating I’ve done, now I’m slowly beginning to claw myself up and out of that awful hole.
In looking back at what I’ve done, I’ve noticed some consistent things and patterns that emerged in making me procrastinate and become complacent and lazy when it comes to getting things done, but I’ve also consciously made changes to my routine to help me get back into the swing of things:
1. I started going into the office and closing the door again
As Stephen King said in On Writing, “Write with the door closed…“. However, I think this applies to everything. If you’re trying to build a niche website, do paperwork for your business, homework for your degree, the best way to do any of these things, is with as few distractions as possible. Getting away from the disturbances, and noise, if possible, is the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to being productive at home. That’s why I’m sitting here, in the home office, listening to some relaxing music, and speaking of music…
2. I turned off all unnecessary electronics
Wait…do you hear that? No you don’t because there is nothing to hear! That is the beauty of silence. It can aid in focus. Having a TV on in the background while you try to type an important email? Bad idea. That is awful for concentration and for stress levels.
Now, I’m not daft. There are things I can get behind, like listening to music to aid in your studying, but I think there’s a limit, and it depends on what you’re doing. Listening to Slipknot while studying may not be the greatest idea. However, if you’re throwing weight around, then by all means, go for it! After all, classical music has been shown to stimulate and increase the ability to learn.
3. I am working out consistently again
Now, I know how lame that must sound, but hear me out. It is proven when you work out, you have more energy, which can prevent feeling sleepy in the afternoon, and can lead to greater focus and better memory. So, all of those extra benefits are great, but how it has really helped me, is by building a habit, and, therefore, a strong base off of which to build further habits.
When you build one habit, it becomes much easier to build other habits as well. Think of it like learning how to build a tree house. The first time you do it, it is going to look plain awful. There will be an unsupported floor made of haphazardly nailed together 2x4s, the roof will be flat, there won’t be a window, and you definitely would not let your kid nephew step foot in it for fear of tetanus or fatality.
However, if you try again and force yourself to learn, you’ll probably know how to make a sturdy base for the floor, and some simple joists for the ceiling. You’ll know how to cut a space for a window, and even include a sill! Instead of a rope ladder, you’ll have a sturdy one made of lumber that allows for an easy climb. That’s really what building habits is, doing something over and over again until it becomes second nature.
Where I’m Going From Here
I’m reinvigorated! The plan now is to get back into my podcasting, YouTubing, and blogging. I’m already back into my writing full-force, and I’m hoping to publish some stuff within the next month or so under a pen name.
All of this with one major addition, I am going to focus much more heavily on SEO, marketing, etc. If you haven’t noticed, my reach over the last few (alright, last four) months has been pretty awful, definitely because of a lack of content generation, but it was already sub-par because of my terrible SEO and marketing skills.
Hopefully when I hone these skills, I can extend my reach and help even more people learn the frugalite and Smart FI ways to aid them in their life through stress reduction, increased happiness…you name it! That’s the goal of this humble website.
Alright, as usual guys, thanks for stopping by! Have you ever felt like it was really easy to just give into bad habits? Ever struggle to be productive after work or keep a good habit? Let’s talk about it in the comments. We’ll have some real therapeutic talk going on, y’all!
You will definitely be seeing a lot more from me in the future. Trust me.
-That Learning Guy