Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has arguably become one of the most common mental health issues of this generation. Whilst it may appear as an overzealous excuse for perfection, it is indeed a mental health issue that, for many like myself, has become a way of life.
In the early stages of our marriage my husband struggled to understand my compulsive nature. I have OCD at its finest. I am extremely pedantic when it comes to detail and I am very particular about the way I live. Sounds like a nightmare for most men. More so for my husband whose strewn socks across the bedroom floor would work me up on a daily basis! Three years in and my OCD hasn’t decreased by a single degree. In fact, dare I say, my husband has developed a fair number of OCD habits himself; which makes life a lot less stressful!
Am I ashamed of having OCD? Not by any means. In fact, it’s helped me increase my productivity. There are days when I procrastinate on the things that I need to get done, but with the steps below I am able to pull myself out and use my time wisely to achieve most that I set out to do on a day-to-day basis. Here’s how I train myself on getting things done:-
- Write it down – My life consists of lists, spreadsheets, notes and personal diary entries. My husband often pokes fun at the fact that I am unable to start my day without referring to my Filofax. Writing things down is my way of ensuring that I don’t miss a single thing. From dinner dates to post office visits, everything and I mean EVERYTHING goes in my Filofax. Along with my personal organiser I have spreadsheets for my finances, which includes monthly outgoings and credit card balances. I make it a point each month to update my spreadsheet so that I know exactly where my money is and how it’s being spent. I also write daily to-do lists; which I take a lot of pride in ticking off as I complete a task. Although this all sounds very labour intensive and somewhat uninspiring, writing things down is a sure fired way of ensuring that nothing gets missed. If you’re not in the habit of writing lists, try something simple such as a grocery list before your next food shop. You’ll soon realise the effect that a good list can have on your stress levels.
- Time management – Those who know me well will have a good ol’ chuckle about this rule, because I have possibly the worst time management that any human could ever have. If you invite me somewhere, chances are I’ll be two hours late. I don’t know why it happens, but it does; which is probably why I don’t get many invitations! However, in my defence, I don’t adopt that awful habit into my daily tasks. I somehow manage to arrange my time well, whereby I allocate time slots for each task at hand. For example, if I know that I have to clean, blog, do my accounts, organise my wardrobe and do a truck load of washing all in one day then I’ll allocate time slots for each. Two hours for my blog, one hour of organising and so forth. If I haven’t completed a task within the allocated time slot, then so be it. There’s always another day, but being the competitive freak that I am, I’ll always challenge myself to finish them!
- Reward yourself – I’m no stranger to a good treat. I love to treat myself, more than I care to admit. When I’m feeling particularly productive, I’ll treat myself to something that I enjoy once I have completed the task at hand. For example, if I’ve cleaned the house top to toe before my allocated time slot is up then I’ll reward myself with a spot of online shopping. Not to say that I go mad with purchases, but that simple feeling of window shopping for 15 minutes is enough to put a smile on my face. The trick here is to find what makes you happy. Even if it’s a bit of chocolate after tackling your mountain of laundry, do it! Rewards should be incentives to make you work harder.
- Change your surroundings – Sometimes, taking yourself out of your normal environment can make the world of difference. If I find myself having writer’s block, I’ll often pick up my laptop and sit in the garden or my local Starbucks. The change in surroundings allows my mind to flow freely and therefore increase my productivity levels. This works well for most tasks that include the extensive use of a laptop. Changing your environment gives you a new lease of motivation.
- Use the 20 min rule – This slightly contradicts my previous point about time management, but it’s mostly for those who tend to work from home. Studies show that short bursts of work increases productivity. The average human has the attention span of no longer than 20 minutes for any given task. Therefore, condensing your work into 20 minute sections can vastly improve the quality of your work. Imagine HITT training for the brain – push yourself for 20 minutes and rest for 5 minutes in between.
- Wake up early – I have been an early riser for as long as I can remember. Nothing makes me more happy than the peaceful tranquillity of an early morning. Waking up early gives you the freedom to work at your own pace without many other distractions. My alarm clock goes off at 6am no matter what time of the week. I enjoy the prospect of having most of my day done before midday, leaving me with the rest of the afternoon to spend as I please. My dad would often tell me that “the early bird catches the worm” and that rule has stuck with me throughout my life.
- Have some quiet time – Coinciding with my early morning routine, I ensure that I spend at least 10 minutes in the morning having ‘me’ time. I’ll make myself a coffee, burn some incense and listen to meditation music with no distractions such as social media around me. Serenity is so important for avoiding procrastination. Having those 10 minutes in the morning gives me the natural boost that I need to start my day on a positive note. If I began my day stumbling out of bed, rushing to get ready and consistently checking my phone, my brain would be in overdrive before I even get to work! Everyone, and I mean everyone, has the opportunity to grab 10 minutes for themselves (hopefully in the mornings) so there’s no excuse for a lack of ‘me’ time.
- Set realistic goals and break tasks into chunks – I could easily sit here and say that I want to be a millionaire by this time next year. Is that realistic? Probably not. After all, how am I going to be a millionaire? What steps am I going to take to become a millionaire? Do I know what it entails to be a millionaire? The answer is no to all accounts. Breaking your goal into miniature and realistic steps/goals allows you to climb the ladder of success much more effectively. An ultimate goal can be more daunting than several miniature goals, therefore increasing the risk of failure. Enlist the help of a good old list and write down the sub-goals which you need to achieve in order to reach your ultimate goal.
- Remove clutter and distractions – We’ve already established that I’m an OCD freak so mess and clutter are not really a part of my vocabulary. However, if you tend to work in a slightly chaotic environment, clean! Clutter causes distractions and therefore reduces productivity. Tidy away your kid’s toys, old papers, rubbish and old socks – you can’t possibly have a clear mind with so many distractions around you.
Remember: “Failure to plan is a plan to fail”