With a new year comes resolutions, goals, projects, and the to-do’s you didn’t do during the pandemic because, well, there was a pandemic and the inequities that followed behind. Everything felt overwhelming, on top of the tumult of the world around us. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, it still feels that way.
Sometimes we forget that to get sh*t done in challenging times (and even non-challenging times), we might not want to take the standard route of creating priorities, buying a planner, or waking up ten minutes earlier every day.
Here are three ways you can get sh*t done during the pandemic that might surprise you.
1. Take more naps.
Yes, you read the right. The stress many of us have experienced due to isolation, new COVID-19 spikes, vaccine anxiety, white supremacy, and presidential trauma is exhausting. Continuing to check off items on the to-do list while everything around us feels like it’s crumbling can make us feel like we are moving slower, and not in a way that feels restorative.
What’s restorative? Taking naps. The Nap Ministry, which reminds everyone about the importance of rest through its mission, and on Instagram and Twitter, has a new hotline where you can get a recorded rest message. Just call 1–833-LUV-NAPS. I swear, I tried it. When I called, I listened a lovely story from the Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey. And one thing she said in the recorded message was, “Your rest supports your grieving.”
We are grieving right now. We are grieving a sense of normalcy. And while “normalcy” was laden with problems, it wasn’t laden with the level and type of unrest the country and world has experienced on a collective level this past year.
So rest, because when you rest, you renew. And when you renew, you can get sh*t done.
2. Change your “to-do” list to an “empty out” list.
I meditate each morning. Without fail, in the first couple of minutes of my meditation, I start thinking of all the tasks I “need” to complete. Eventually, I become aware of my meditative task management and re-ground myself. However, I realized that these tasks clearly at the top of my mind, and I can get them off my mind by listing them out — I call this my “empty out” list.
So how’s this different than any other to-do list?
The purpose of the empty out list is to dump all the to-do’s that are floating around in my head, out from my head and onto paper or a notes app. When I do this, it feels like the burden of holding tasks in my head is released. The list is merely a visual representation of the things on my mind. If I don’t get them done, then I don’t get them done.
Oftentimes, the tasks on our mind do not need to get done right away. They might be tasks that causes us anxiety for other reasons than actual urgency or need. Something might feel urgent because you’re insecure about how to get it done. Something might feel urgent because you feel that there are high expectations for the outcome. These anxieties can create a false urgency. By not carrying these tasks in my head and placing it elsewhere, I’m reducing my stress, even if it’s a little bit, and truly evaluating what sh*t I really need to do.
Removing the pressure of having to check off everything the list allows you reference the empty out list once you feel resourced enough to tackle a task.
3. Find awe in something every day.
The other day I was sitting on the couch, and my cat was curled up in the most perfect ball next to me, as she does on most days. I stopped working on the spreadsheet on my computer, and I just stared at her. Then I pet her most perfectly soft fur. And I told her how perfect she is. I was in awe of this beautiful creature sitting next to me, even though she was doing what she does every day.
According to this study, this feeling of awe is associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. And having less inflammation is a marker for better heart and brain health, amongst other health indicators.
Having awe also makes you stop what you’re doing. It gives you a moment to breathe. And even one extra breath reduces your stress levels. Taking time to have awe instills a sense of joy that keeps you going. And if it doesn’t keep you going, this might give you perspective if the sh*t you were in the middle of really needs to get done immediately.
2020 was hard…
And 2021 is showing itself to have a similar flavor. I hope it gets easier. I hope we can all get vaccinated. I hope racial unrest finds some rest. While we work to keep ourselves healthy and safe, it’s okay if you can’t get sh*t done. But if you need to, keep these tips in mind, and please give yourself some grace.
Nisha Mody is a writer who also is also a Coach, Podcaster, and Librarian. She has written for The Rumpus, The Times of India, and Ravishly. Find her on Twitter and Instagram. But most importantly, adore her beautiful sister cats. Read more of her work on her healing and justice newsletter, The Healing Hype.