You will be fine

I just had another bucket poured out over me. (I wrote elsewhere about things happening in bulk. Now I like to think about them happening in buckets.)

A bucket of feeling low, having no motivation and being terribly unproductive. I was supposed to do certain things but I couldn’t get enough motivation to do them, so I basically wasted a good amount of days doing nothing.

I hated myself for that.

Which didn’t really make things much better. On the contrary. When you hate yourself, it’s even harder to get yourself motivated again to do something. And as the days slipped by, as the to-do lists got longer and as the procrastination got worse, I sank deeper into the hole I was in, and my feeling of guilt grew.

Until I remembered two things.

One: The best way out is always through. Robert Frost.

So I waited. I sat it out. I meandered through the low days, knowing that this was the best way to overcome them and get my motivation back.

I knew that at some point I would become bored of my own boredom and be inspired by something again. I had to force myself through it to get out of it.

It’s like walking in a tunnel and you don’t see the end yet, but you know there is no diversion, you must walk on until you see the light at the end.

Two: You will be fine.

Or as Leo Babauta writes: You’ll Be OK. Feeling low, unmotivated, uninspired is a phase that shall end and afterwards I will have even learned something.

This post is the best proof for it. It’s about the lessons I learned in a really low phase.

We all get stuck in painful situations, definitely much more painful than just being uninspired.

A break-up. The death of someone close. An accident. Financial problems. An argument with someone. These are all terrible things that nobody wants to be in, including myself.

But if stuck in such a situation, be sure that there is something that can sooth our sore souls, heal our wounds and give us enough strength and inspiration to keep walking through it.

In a self-discovery course I realised that avoiding pain is human, but going back to some pain from the past and exploring it – carefully, lovingly and only with the best intentions – can teach us some tremendous lessons about ourselves.

In retrospective, things look a bit smaller than at that time when we are stuck inside the mess. If we keep that in mind, as hard and old-fashioned it may sound, then the mess we are in right now is a bit easier to endure.

Even if later you will not laugh about it, you may be able to learn, so wait, sit through it, take care of yourself, gather the pieces afterwards and put them together in a new order.

What did you learn from a moment you were really low? And what helped you through? Let me know in the comments.

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How to get work done

when you happen to be in the tropical rainy season

Whether you are around the equator or somewhere else, there are times when being productive is harder than usual due to certain circumstances.

June and July are the coldest months here in Kenya. In Nairobi, that means drizzling grey days and muddy streets. That not only drains the energy, but also has some side effects that call for adjustment in my working day.

But there is cure and it doesn’t matter where you are or how the weather is there – I am sure some of these hints can also help you get back into a productive working routine.

Calculate blackouts

Always have alternatives of what to do when the power goes as this might occur more regular in the rainy season. For me this includes working on my handwritten novel, knowing which veggies need to be cut or which beans need to be sorted for dinner or lunch. Also, letters are perfect to be written during blackout. I make sure to have my laptop fully charged all the time. In that way, I can still work for two more hours into the blackout.

It’s also crucial to back up your work regularly. Consider a smartphone. I am having one for a month now and if there is an emergency that needs internet I might be able to fix it via smartphone that has internet bundles.

Work in sprints

If it is not raining, I consider going out and getting the groceries for the day or some credit or at least some fresh air. I can also hang clothes or do bank stuff. There may be long periods in which I cannot leave the house without getting showered. As I work during these, I am trying to use the slightly dryer breaks to catch some air and get away from the laptop.

Stay positive

Grey skies and muddy paths are not the greatest happiness enforcers and accordingly, my work energy quickly is in danger to drown. So I make sure that I have enough cocoa at hand (the only addiction I allow myself), and maybe some cookies, some comfy clothes to not freeze (thanks Mum for the wrist warmers) and some good music. Photos or other visual stimulation also help, and candles if you like, to create a general positive working environment.

Don’t do it alone

I have invited friends to my place (because mine has wifi) and we will work alongside or on projects together. They keep me company, definitely help the whole stay-positive issue and if they are working, I can’t go on straying through the internet, but better also do some serious work. It’s encouraging to have others around.

This is how I work during rainy season. Where are you working from? And how do you make it happen there? Tell me in the comments below!

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Two stunning concepts that made my October

and tremendously changed my perspective towards living a more productive life

Once a month I collect all the lessons I learned and publish them here. But now that I am doing that for almost a year, the lessons repeat themselves. The stuff I try finally works, and there is nothing new to be learned, it only prove true.

Last month, for example, I was once more reminded that doing comes from doing and that things happen in bulk.

But I also got to know two more concepts that worked like eye-openers.

We hear a lot about how to motivate ourselves. So many people, websites and robots promise us that if we join their list and pay them, they will give us more motivation than we ever had. Only follow these 32 easy steps to get more motivation. And here are 7 things you should do to be happy. And the premium programme has the life as you want it – completely outlined for you and to reach with these 10 infallible tools.

But word number one that stroke me last month was DISCIPLINE. This article says it all: Forget Motivation, Remember Discipline.

Word number two: FLOW. I discovered Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s model of flow. What you want to reach is the point of maximum challenge and likewise the highest skill level to get in the zone, in the flow. Brooke from Slow Your Home wrote a beautiful piece about Rhythm that resonates with that: Why Rhythm Trumps Routine.

So while discipline sets you to the start of it, flow carries you through the task.

With discipline you set of, and with flow you reach the end.

Get the discipline to start doing it, and then develop a rhythm to get into the flow and finish that thing.

As I work on those concepts myself, what do you think? Do you struggle more with finding discipline or flow? Let us know in the comments.

Feel free to connect with me here and here.