Coner Murphy

Published on 1 May 2022 | 4 Minute Read

#30 - Breaking the Rut

Sometimes we can find ourselves in a rut where we aren't achieving any of our goals or working towards them. This week, I share three ideas to help.

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#30 - Breaking the Rut

Hey Friends 👋

I hope you're doing well and had a splendid week?

For me, the closing of this week marked the end of my first week in my new role as a mid-level software engineer in a new company and what a week it's been. From meeting new people and learning all about the product we're building to ultimately the role I'm going to be playing in making it a success. In short, it's been a non-stop whirlwind but a really enjoyable one at that.

Anyway, that isn't what I want to talk about in this edition. Instead, what I wanted to talk about was a by-product of my first week; "having no time"...

You see, because of this week being such a whirlwind and having so much to do, I didn't have much time (or, at least a lot less than I usually would) to work on side-projects, etc.

At the start of the week, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish by the end of the week (which was already scaled back due to knowing I would have less time). And, guess how many I got to achieve?

1...

Now, admittedly, I've made up lost time this weekend and caught up and completed the other tasks. But, playing catch up is far from ideal.

So, in response to this, I wanted to share three ideas I'm going to implement this coming week to try and combat this issue and make sure the above doesn't repeat itself in the future.

Idea 1: Assigning tasks a slot

The first idea is to assign tasks a slot. In my case, this is going to be the day I'm going to complete them within the week. So, each day I can look at the list and say "here are the three things I need to do today".

The motivation behind this is to try to curb the unwieldy growth of my to-do list and install some structure to it. Every Sunday, I'm going to look through my list of tasks and assign them out for the week, aiming for three per day.

Idea 2: Ritualising "me time"

If the first idea is to allocate the work to a day, then this idea is giving me the time and space to execute the work. It's one thing to say "I'm going to complete three tasks per day" and it's another to complete them.

So, to save me from the embarrassing act of doing just that and instead putting my words into action, I'm going to pick and add to my calendar a piece of time each day where I can focus on just the three tasks I've outlined for that day.

It doesn't need to be at the same time every day (although that will help). Instead, the most important thing is to make sure a slot is on the calendar each day to do the tasks I outlined.

Idea 3: Being okay with "good enough"

The biggest killer of ideas is the "pursuit of perfection" when you want something to be perfect, you pump more and more time into it and at some point, it's just diminishing returns.

This must be absolutely avoided at all costs when you're working on a tight time budget when you don't have time to spare and need to get s**t done; the last thing you want to be doing is chasing perfectionism as all that will achieve is the wasting of more time.

So, what's the alternative?

Being okay with "good enough" is the alternative. Once you've got your piece of work to be good enough that you can't immediately pick faults and it achieves the goals you need it to, then hit publish, commit it, or move on to the next task. Do anything that isn't dwelling on it to make it perfect; instead, keep the momentum going and push on!


Now, let me postface this by saying having one or two unproductive weeks where you achieve nothing isn't a bad thing and is perfectly normal and healthy. After all, we're all humans and need a break.

When it becomes an issue is when that one or two weeks become one or two months, or even longer and that's where these three ideas come in and can be used to help you break that unproductive rut and get back to achieving your goals.

I hope you have a great week next week and, if you're in the UK, an amazing Early May Bank Holiday; I look forward to speaking with you again next Sunday.

Thank you for reading as always,

Coner x

Thought, Question, Challenge 🤔

  • Thought: You can achieve more by being deliberate with how you spend your time; spend less time thinking about what to do and more time doing by deciding ahead of time.
  • Question: How can you allocate yourself "me time" in your schedule to ensure you have time protected to work on your goals?
  • Challenge: This coming week, outline one task to achieve each day and the time to achieve it. See how much you achieve by next weekend.

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