Divide, Conquer, and Do The Thing!

Do the thingSo, I am in the new apartment, living out of boxes and spending half an hour trying to find the toothbrushes, and Racheline is in South Africa for her day job.

Liam, one of our guys in Starling, relies heavily on systems to do his life — being an actor, and having people to book his plane tickets and tell him where to go and when, super useful! Racheline and I use systems to do our lives too (and god how we would love having people to book our plane tickets for us). Especially in weeks like this, when everything is madness, that system means we get stuff done by breaking things down into tiny tasks and tackling those.

So, while we’re breaking down find the toothbrushes into organize the boxes, open the boxes, put the boxes the toothbrushes are not in aside, until you find the toothbrushes and fly to South Africa into Get a car to the airport, go to security, find your gate, board the plane, sleep a lot, get off the plane, find the other plane, etc., we want to know what massive goal you have that needs to be broken down into digestable components. As usual, maybe we can help, maybe someone else can, or maybe you just want a cheerleader. Either way, the first step to doing the thing is to do lots of little things!

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7 Responses to Divide, Conquer, and Do The Thing!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well my massive goal is “get a job”, but dumb as it sounds I’m finding my biggest problem to be getting out of bed early.

    I’m in the midst of a slightly crazy life transition, I lived at home for two years to save up after graduating, working a job that I knew was beneath me but hey, it was a job. I moved out in Oct to the city I wanted to live in, and quit at the end of the year to focus on teaching myself more of what I want to be doing, improve my portfolio, and get a job. The first month or so I was good about staying on track, but I spend a good 99.9% of my time alone in my apartment (no close friends nearby) and my brain is my own worst enemy anyway and I think I got depressed without realizing it.

    Which brings me to today. I’m getting more done than I was, but that’s not saying much at all. I fell into a routine of laying in bed surfing the internet on my phone after my alarm goes off and now I can’t get out of it. (Half of it is fandom catch up, half of it is catching up on industry-related things, and I’m not sure I can successfully ditch this practice, but I think I need it to at least happen when I’m successfully up and starting my day.) No matter how determined I feel the night before, I just don’t care at all when I wake up. All of my alarms are across the room but it’s a habit to shut them off and dive back into bed. At this point I’ve started letting the battery drain on my iPad so it’s almost dead in the morning, but my phone’s still around and mostly this all seems pathetic to me. I think my natural tendency is to be a night owl but I end up feeling bad about myself when I wake up late and that tends to make it harder to do things. Anybody have tips on how to change my morning habits when I don’t have some external reason to get up?

    • erincmcrae says:

      First off, congrats on your new city and all the moves you’re making! It’s awesome you’re settling in and working on getting the stuff that you want.

      I totally need schedules and routine to survive. Once I have a routine it’s easier to follow, but establishing one? Hard! So, breaking this into small bits! What you need to do is 1) Wake yourself up 2) Get out of bed and 3) Get out of your apartment (to a cafe or library or park, somewhere just to be aware of the existence of other people and the outside world) or at least to a room in your apartment not your bedroom, to do your work.

      1) This is like, ridiculously small and practical, but leave your phone and tablet in another room far far away and get one of those cheap vintage-style alarm clocks — the kind with the two little bells on top. I had one in college, and it was insanely loud and scared the utter crap out of me enough to get me up and going.
      2) Tempt yourself with awesome coffee or a shower or something, to get out from under the covers. Something not involving the Internet!
      3) Is self explanatory really, and will probably help to give you some structure to your days and also let you feel less alone. Maybe even just start small with “Tuesday and Thursday, I will go the library!” or “On Monday I will do X work from my desk and then take a walk!” or whatever it is you want to get done.

      Whatever you do, best of luck with all your Things!

      Does anybody else have any tips or tricks to help?

    • Anton says:

      It might be a good idea to find some out of the house commitment to get you up if you want to shift your sleep pattern. Early morning yoga class. (I took a 6am kickboxing class for a year and that helped me break out of the sleep super late habit.) Trip to neighborhood place that offers good coffee and muffins only before 10am. McDonald’s hash browns are only available until 10:30 so you have to get up if you want those. Are there good cartoons on in the morning on TV anymore? Hell, even the Price is Right. Something you’ll want to get up and do or see or consume that really only happens in the morning might help.

      My other suggestion comes from Unfuck Your Habitat – make the bed. It’s something you can do that might be just enough of an activity to break the connection between staying in bed to internet and getting up for the day. Plus then your bed is made and you can at least feel like you have some kind of Adult Life Points. (Or so I tell myself.)

    • RM says:

      And my suggestion, in case you live in NYC or a similar place and only have one room and can’t put things in a different room — put things somewhere weird. Go buy a cheap travel alarm clock for like $10 and put the phone and the tablet or the laptop up on a shelf, or behind some books, or somewhere hard to reach that involves doing super irritating things. So once you’re up, you’re up.

  2. Gabija says:

    I know the Thing I want to do (research in a university setting, maybe some teaching on the side too), and I know the steps towards it. I have a month left in my undergrad studies, then I should get good Masters, then PhD, then hope for a job that I want. The problem is that recently I’ve been thinking I’m just not good enough for this. Academia is highly competitive and the highest grades are necessary to get ahead and I don’t have that. The exams I took in winter turned out much worse than I was expecting so I’m really demotivated to study for the ones coming up next month. After all, if studying long and hard only gets me only average grades, it seems like there’s no point in trying. So yeah, I just don’t know how to start believing again that I am good enough for it and that I have what it takes and how to work towards that goal again.

    • RM says:

      You’ve got to be in it to win it. Why tell yourself no permanently by not doing the work when if someone tells you no right now, you can always try again? Most people don’t get into grad school on the first try. The process, both of getting in, and of graduating from it, is designed to weed people out; don’t fall for that trick. Also don’t get down on yourself, because woah, that’s not going to help in an interview or an essay where you’ve got to convince people that you are so much more than some test scores (and you are so much more than some test scores).

      I once met someone who auditioned eight times — that’s eight years in a row — to get into Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts, and it’s an incredibly time-consuming and disruptive process.

      If you want something, you determine how much it’s worth to you. One try? Or eight? One rejection on a manuscript or twenty?

      Study for the test. Figure out what you’re going to do to make yourself a better candidate if this isn’t the year you hear yes. Next year, if you still want it, sit down and do it again.

      There are plenty of people in the world whose job it is to tell you no. Don’t be one of them yourself.

    • jaelscribble says:

      I hope it’s appropriate for me to just jump in, but I wanted to say that grades are actually not everything at the higher levels. I say this as someone who has spent some time in academia. At the Master’s level and above, what is crucial is to form a bond with a professor who will support you before you apply. They will back up your application. I have seen more than a few 4.0’ers get denied because someone with an A- just seemed to have a better research plan and connection to one of the professors.

      This is not the same if you are applying to a HUGE program, but that really isn’t in your best interest anyway!

      Just keep at it! And find a prof you want to work with! Oh, and don’t get into this game thinking you will find a job. ‘Cause, like, having a high-level degree WILL help you but that isn’t the kind of goal that will keep you motivated through the ABSOLUTE SOUL-CRUSHING TORMENT that is grad studies. (;

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