Dealing with anxiety or depression is challenging enough as it is, but trying to be productive at the same time can feel downright impossible, like swimming against a current. There are some small productivity hacks that can help.
Over at Peaceful Dumpling, writer Cara Danielle Brown suggests giving yourself permission to do “bad work.” In other words, allow yourself to just start working, even if your work isn’t perfect- you can focus on perfecting it later.
“This may sound counter intuitive to anxiety-ridden perfectionists, but more times than not, it’s not actually the work that is stressful – it’s the anticipation of having to do the work and having to do it well. Occasionally, we need to override the system and give ourselves permission to suck if it means making it easier to put pen to paper. Once the bulk of the task is done, it is always easier to go back through and fix it at a later date. What’s more, sometimes we unlock our creativity when we stop censoring ourselves and focusing on doing a good job. I speak from personal experience when I say that some of my best work has been done completely on accident when I gave myself permission to do a terrible job.”
Of course, it depends on the type of work you do. Not every task will allow for fine-tuning, but this is good advice for getting started in general (it’s similar to author Anne Lamott’s concept of Shitty First Drafts), and it’s extra helpful when you’re dealing with depression and getting started is your biggest hurdle. Even the simplest task can seem overwhelming when you’re depressed. Personally, the Pomodoro technique has also helped me tremendously. Because you work in 25 minute increments, this method allows you to break up the task into smaller chunks, which helps you focus.
Beyond anxiety and depression, Brown’s concept works well if you just find yourself in a productivity slump or a rut. Again, getting started can feel like such a huge obstacle when you’re not motivated, and allowing yourself to do “bad work” that you’ll edit later at least helps you jump into it. She offers some additional tips at the link below.