Productivity

A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Shit Together

This is Post 5 of a 31-Day Blogging Challenge hosted by the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Don’t we all need this after the year and a half we’ve had? I know I feel like I do. I created a set of pages in Notion called “Project Get My Shit Together.” For this very task. I feel a little messy even sharing this with you, but if it helps one person to dig out of the despair hole, then hey, I’ve done a good thing.

Step One: Paint a Picture of What Having Your Shit Together Looks Like

We don’t know how to get somewhere if we don’t know where we’re going, right? Thus, it’s important to begin the journey of getting it together with a picture of what it will look like when you have it together. This will look different for everyone, but I advise starting with low-hanging fruit. Of course you’d have your shit together if you were to meet some big scary hairy audacious goal – but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

You can’t focus on the big stuff if the small stuff is a mess. I can’t, you can’t. If you’ve got a sink full of dishes in various states of science experiment, a home full of clutter, a bank account overdrawn, debt up to your ears, and deadlines whizzing by, you’re not really able to focus on those higher level goals.

We’re talking about getting to a platform from which you can start to think about those goals and where you’ll have a lot more success trying to attain them. So right now, if like me, you need to get your shit together, take out some paper, open a new page in Notion or OneNote or Evernote, and jot down “What getting my shit together looks like.”

Here’s mine:

There is a positive balance in all bank accounts, the house is clean, the kids have a regular bedtime routine, I’m up to date on my career tasks, I’m eating healthfully and I’m active each day, all my volunteer work is up to date. I haven’t left friends hanging. Taxes are filed.

Yours will likely look different. Note that I wrote out my statement as though those things have happened. That’s important in being able to construct the plan.

Step 2: Plan What You Will Do to Get It Together

Now that you have the destination it’s time to come up with the road map. How will you get from where you are – be honest with where you are – to where you need to be? Don’t put things in your plan that aren’t relevant to your destination. Sure, it would be cool to see the Grand Canyon, but if you’re trying to get to Chicago from Kansas City, that’s not going to help you get where you need to go right now. Likewise, if you don’t need to do the dishes, but boy do you need to get that laundry done and sorted, the dishes shouldn’t be part of your GYST plan.

I used Notion to create a page for each area of life where I needed to do work and then listed out every mile marker I need to pass to get to the destination for that particular area. When I complete those steps, I will have a true statement in my overview.

Step 3: Anticipate the Road Blocks

Sometimes our shit isn’t together because there’s some road block in the way. Perhaps we’ve dropped the ball on dishes because the dishwasher is broken. Maybe laundry is out of control because we haven’t been good about purging clothes we no longer wear and it’s overwhelming to put it away. Perhaps we’re behind on taxes because we’re feeling embarrassed about how little we made in a year. Come up with a solution or a way around the road block – maybe that includes something like “get therapy” and add that to your plan.

If you don’t remove or get around road blocks, you’re going to stall out in your plan.

Step 4: Identify Others Who Have a Role and Involve Them

If you share a bank account, you’ll need the other person on the account to be part of the plan if you’re constantly broke. If your house is a disaster, every person in that house capable of upkeep needs to be involved in the planning of how you will get out of the situation you currently are in.

You won’t be able to move forward if getting your shit together relies on others also playing their parts and they don’t know what parts they need to play.

Sidenote: If You’re Trying to Find Time, You Won’t

We don’t magically “find time” for things – especially if we’re in a situation where everything is a hot mess. You have to make time for the things that need to be done. In the beginning, that may mean blocking out time on a calendar to get things done. When we try to “find time” to clean the bathroom, update our accounting programs, catch up on deadlines, something more interesting will fill that time in, and that time will very rarely be found.

Step 5: Prioritize Your Vision

If there’s any part of your plan that needs to be done before another part can be started, that naturally will have to come first. If there’s a part of your getting your shit together where not doing it may mean financial or medical ruin, do that first. Know where your priorities are, put those priorities in writing.

Step 6: Commit to Spending A Set Amount of Time Getting Your Shit Together Every Day.

I like the idea of the twenty-ten. On her site and in her book, Unfuck Your Habitat author Rachel Hoffman cautions readers against doing marathon cleaning. The reason for this is that you’ll burn out, and you’ll be less likely to keep it up. By that same token, that an be stretched to getting your shit together. If you try to get it all together in a day or even a week, you’re likely to expend a ton of energy, burn out, and be in the same or worse shape the following day or week. This is especially true because most of us can’t set aside a whole week free from other obligations to get things together. We still have to run maintenance on the parts of our lives that aren’t a big hot stinking mess.

That said, if you have a pressing deadline that concerns your livelihood, focus on that – but chunk it up and take breaks while doing it.

Pull out your plan every day and for 20 minutes a couple times a day, work on the next thing that needs to be done. Follow priorities. At the end of that time, take a complete break. Feet up, favorite beverage in hand. Give yourself that seretonin hit of celebrating forward motion. By doing that and taking that time to celebrate what you did, you’re going to reinforce the steps you need to take to get your shit together and be much more efficient each time you work on that project.

Consistent forward motion will get you where you need to be.

Step 7: Celebrate Every Small Victory

When you are able to tick things off on your plan – either those mile markers or you get to the destination – celebrate! You did it! You are closer to having your shit together or you have your shit together! That is SO awesome!

Sidenote: Consider Enlisting an Accountability Partner

It’s easier to hit mile markers and get to your destination if you have someone riding in the car making sure you don’t get off track. Consider inviting a trusted friend to help keep you accountable to your plan. Accountability partners are a great tool in making big goals happen – there’s no reason they can’t also be instrumental in getting your shit together as well.

Do you need to get it together? What will it look like when you have your shit together?

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