3 Ways To Eventually Get Things Done

A few days ago I told you why I get nothing done. Writing this down I realized a recurring pattern: I’m too hard on myself. Tadaa! – Nothing new. However I won’t give up on changing this mindset. I do it by reprogramming my belief system, nurturing self-love on a daily basis, but also by classical change of behaviours. This article touches all of these ‘categories’.

A long time ago I shot off my first threesome about how to tackle procrastination. This is a good sequel.

1. Be realistic

I’m contemplating about writing since I’ve started writing – especially this blog. But only recently I had some major breakthroughs. I started to read a lot more about writing and – most importantly – about the people who write things I want to write.

Most of them don’t have this ‘regular life’ – whatever that is. Also they invested a lot of time in their work. And this made me realize: My goals are just unrealistic and this is why ‘I get nothing done’.

I used to think: “If I don’t publish an article today, I’m not a good writer.” Ironically this belief spirals me deeper into my negative thinking patterns instead of pushing my motivation. And isn’t this what I want to change with this blog?

What’s the point of publishing at all costs if I’m just ‘not ready yet’? If I do an hour of writing a day and afterwards I still think “I did nothing.” Come on, Uli, THIS is self-destructive. I will drop that from now on and instead cultivate healthy writing routines – no matter if I publish or not. This leads me to the next point:

2. Set the stage

Sometimes I’m ‘not in the mood’ to write. I don’t have a desk. I don’t have ‘inspiration’. I have people around, because I sleep in a hostel or or or. These things work as perfect excuses. What I learnt is to just ‘make space’ for my head.

If I don’t have the right setting to get work done and I’m not able to shut off the distraction, sometimes it is enough to just change the location. Either it is just changing the room or going to a café or a library. Other times I might have to improvise – change device or just hide in the forest with my notebook. Where there is a will, there is a way.

3. Take your goals seriously

This is a very personal advice. I notice over and over again how I downgrade my own priorities. For me writing is a really big part of my life. In the past I’ve always tried to ‘fit it in’ into my daily life. And a lot of times it didn’t fit in, because I replaced it with other – what I considered – priorities.

Of course, we have to work and sometimes we have to do things if we want it or not in order to make a living in this world. But if we don’t take our personal goals seriously there is not a chance to reach them.

This applies to any creative activity, but also to a change of diet, exercising, going for more walks, spending time with the kids or whatever. This fits into the category of self-love. Love yourself and do what you love! This should be the highest priority.

In one of my next articles I will explain why self-care is so essential for making the world a better place.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu


Why I Get Nothing Done

It’s not accurate that I get nothing done. I just don’t get done what I want to get done.

I found this verbal outpour in my inexhaustible source of notes. What stunnes me is how accurate I describe my – I would like to call it – ideation process. In a few years probably I will smile about this type of examination, but right now it illustrates my behaviour lively. My goal is still to write my heart out here – believing in the process and stuff. So, here we go:

“Why I get nothing done” – Well, this is actually the wrong title for this article, because it suggests that I know why I get nothing done. Reality is, I don’t know, really. But if I continue searching I might won’t publish anything (like in most cases as you will find out later on).

In the hope to unclog my blogging-pipeline I will just press the publishing button in a few minutes.

What happens if I want to write an article?

Phase 1: “I have an idea”

Well, it all starts with an idea (some random situation, metro, bed, toilet, any kind of waiting room, forest, plane, train,…) I write down the rough idea/insight into my notebook or on my phone. I think to myself “This is already half the article. Great I will just sit down for half an hour more and than it is all ready to publish.”

Happy and half-accomplished I continue my day knowing that I will write an article the next time I’ll sit on my computer.

But than reality strikes. I open my laptop. I even close all the unnecessary tabs and windows and I start writing. At the beginning it all looks promising. Until one point. Let’s call it the point of no return.

I’m overflowing with ideas and all of a sudden I realize that I have to start another article, because I already reach too many aspects with this one article. And then I think: “Wait a second?” – “Do I actually know what I’m talking about here?” – “What does this word actually mean?” All of a sudden I’m losing control over my own thoughts. I start another document. Maybe a third one where I’m trying to filter my thoughts. Let’s call it ‘outtakes’.

Then I get so confused and I decide “I leave it for now” and rather listen to some 432 Hz forest sounds.

Phase 2: “I want to finish this article”

A couple of weeks later another idea crosses my path. And than it comes in to my mind that I already had started a similar article a few weeks back. “I should have a look and re-read what I thought a few months ago”.

“Wait – I think I read an inspiring article about this topic in a blog. Or was in a book? Or did I have a conversation about it? Or was it Alan Watts who visited me in my dreams and told me about it? 🙂 ”

And this is already the beginning of the end. In this case either I will find out how shitty and unispired my idea is or I just get sucked in by ‘inspiring talks’ on youtube or the odd TED talk about “How to travel the world with no money” or something like this… You get the point.

Phase 3: “Procrastinating procrastination”

But then, sometimes something magical happens – I catch myself watching stuff not related to my topic and miraculously I shake an article like this one off my sleeve.

Hm, I’m not sure if I’m crazy or if this is just part of the process? Maybe I’m just learning? I guess it’s part of the process. I also guess it’s time for The Artist’s Way – many people I admire recommended me this book. The thing is – I write so much already, but none of my ideas gets out of my way. So – maybe this is my way? We will see.

Cheers from the procrastination front


Why Gratefulness is a Practice

… and three ways to practice it.

“You don’t know why you do it, but life will reward you. It’s like going to the gym.” Adriano is annotating my – at times exhausting – nomad life style. I still have to smile about the metaphor as my lifestyle is not at all healthy at times.

I learn a lot during travelling – about: being happy with less, appreciating privacy or a space to live in, valuing a fully equipped kitchen, absorbing hugs from people I just met a few moments earlier… These are a few of many things travelling teaches me. But what do I benefit the most from? Probably it is the skill of ‘being grateful’.

‘Be grateful’ might sounds a bit platitudinous. It is one of the phrases that got exploited by our ‘cultural narrators’ (I have to admit, I stole this expression from school of life.)

Nevertheless it is so important to cultivate this well-quoted ‘gratefulness’ in order to live life properly. Recently I found out that it is actually a skill to be grateful.

First you might have to think about things to be grateful for. “Oh, today I had a coffee and a really good chat with a friend, my boss or the taxi driver was in a good mood, the weather was good…”

Appreciation grows exponentially.

If you practice being grateful everyday, you will notice more and more things to be grateful for. Appreciation grows exponentially. It’s like a perpetuum mobile that keeps moving as soon as you prompt it.

One day, you don’t need to tell yourself anymore to ‘be grateful’. It becomes your natural trait.

What happens when you are grateful? Life loses its tightness automatically. You are beginning to appreciate the huge miracle you are a part of. It is here. It is you. You are beginning to appreciate the beauty.

When you know good things will come float into your life, you will walk through life only with curiosity. But you need to initiate it. You need to get in touch with the core of joy in order to cultivate it. At the beginning you need to search for the beauty. But as soon as you find it, you can nourish it – like a plant that grows inside of you.

Alright, but how do we practice gratefulness? This is not a real threesome-style threesome, but here we go.

1. List of Gratefulness

Write down what you are grateful for regularly. Maybe you even start a small book only for things to be grateful for. It can be the tiniest things, you will see how this will change your whole perspective on your day.

2. Gratefulness as a Reward System

Let gratefulness be your reward system – appreciate your own achievements. Everytime you finish something during the day take a moment of appreciation. For example if you tick off a task of your To-Do-List, this can be a reason to smile. It can be the smallest task. But if you take a moment every time you accomplish something, you will automatically gain gratitude. A positive side-effect is a rise of motivation as you honour yourself much more.

3. Minute of Appreciation

It took a while – but nowadays I’m trying to use technology as my tool (and not my undertaker as it used to be due to self-diagnosed social-media-addiction.) Set a daily alarm for a “Minute of Appreciation” (or three or five minutes, it is up to you.). Only one minutes a day will help you to activate the flow of gratitude. It doesn’t matter which time of the day it will be. In the morning it will boost your energy level, but also it can be a good way to balance the afternoon low. Or even before going to sleep it can be a good fertilizer for positive dreams.

All this – of course – is perceived from the perspective of a spoilt western european. But funnily I learnt the most about appreciation/gratefulness from people who have the least.


3 Things That Really Hold You Back From Achieving Your Goals

It is time for another threesome – my way of condensing my learnings and unlearnings. So, this is pretty basic down to the core of ‘getting stuff done’. Enough of the eye-washing! This is the truth about why you don’t achieve your goals (lessons to myself, of course):

1. You’re not following your true goals.

Firstly I need to clarify: When I speak about goals I’m not necessarily speaking about carreer goals. I’m talking about what you do in your life, how you spend your time, what you eat, how you live.

Maybe you are not quite satisfied with your life, but you don’t really know what is wrong? On the surface you might have everything you need, but this is might not be what you really need.

What did you like doing when you were a kid? What filled you with excitement when you were ten years old? You might say “Yeah, but now I’m grown up. I don’t have time to climb trees, to play, to test myself.” I don’t say this is what you are supposed to be doing now, but maybe it gives you a hint. Maybe the huzz and buzz in your life just stopped you from doing what you love?

2. You are not working on your goals.

This is pretty straight forward, but the hardest part of it all. Let’s assume you have an idea of what you want to achieve or do. Now the hard part is to break the big goal down into small steps and actually start making these steps. The funny thing is – as soon as you start walking things will evolve automatically. But finding the balls to get started and not to be outmaneuvered by self-doubt or inadaquate perfectionism – this can be a challenge.

Maybe you still have too many things to do? You need to focus on what you really want to do. This involves dropping some other tasks or what you consider as your responsibility. I just read a good article on saying no. (Have you ever heard about the rule of two thirds?)

3. Your comfortzone is still your sacred ground.

Maybe you already made some steps in the right direction, but you got comfortable in your current position. In order to really achieve the goals you need to expand your comfortzone. You will never improve, if you don’t risk any of your comfort.

It is always good to question your current habits and hobbies in order to move forward. What are you not willing to give up? But what do you might have to give up in order to come closer to your goals? You know it. You just need to open your eyes. Also: Setting the goals higher than you feel comfortable with is a useful tool in order to come closer to your desired way of life. It will force you to get out of your comfortzone.


Micro Habit Challenge 4.2 – Mindfulness beats Social Media

Another challenge is coming to an (happy) end. To be fair – it turned out to not be such a big challenge at all as I’m quite involved in ‘real life’ at the moment. I think I have to make the challenges a lot harder from now on.

So what did I learn?

  • I’m actually not as distracted by social media as I thought. Haha, it seems I had a bit of a negative image of myself here. I didn’t really have to change much. All I changed was, as I said – investing the time I spent in social media in other stuff (learning languages, writing, talking to people, reading, going for a walk…) But it turned out: I’m doing these things anyways and flightmode is my best friend.
  • I turned the 30 minutes ON social media into – what I called – “The 30 minutes of mindfulness”. I’m very ill-disciplined when it comes to exercising or meditating regularly. So I decided to leave it open and just set my alarm a little earlier to make sure I have time for any of the above. I either do some chanting, meditating, some yoga or any other type of stretching or workout depending on how I feel – maybe I even go for a walk around the garden or block – depending where I am. It forces me to observe myself before really getting out of bed. “How do I feel today?” is a good question to start on. Also it helps me to set an intention for the day. “How do I want to feel?” – My answer is mainly quite simple: “good.” What does this have to do with social media? Actually nothing. But! I realized repeatedly:
  • Tadaaa: I’m happier WITHOUT checking instagram every couple of hours or minutes. It’s such a relieve for my – anyways – strained brain to not to see all these perfectly curated pictures. And also: Without feeling the need to reply to every message whatsoever…
  • Also: In a way this exercise was a good reminder to keep cultivating self-love. Questioning is my tool and I’m the master of my mind not the the victim of my devices.

Well, what do I do now? I just continue doing the things I do instead of not-doing.


Micro Love

It’s a strange title for a big thing like this. Macro love would be adequate. I knew it since a long time, but I learnt it just recently.

As far as I understood romantic love is not the answer to all questions, because impermanence takes it by surprise. There is no relationship that can light up all the dark spots in a human soul.

Cool, nevertheless there are more than enough moments when I’m wishing to have somebody to walk beside me – someone whose path merges with mine.

But how could I be so blind? The love is all around me. It is just right here. Accessible in every moment of my life. If I’m open for it I receive a huge amount of love – everyday, not only every now and then.

It’s the small moments.

Recently I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of these moments – generosity, physical affection, good company, guidance,…  I don’t really know why. Last year was such a pain, but magically this year starts off with an endless flow of bright moments. I still fall into holes, but they are not as deep anymore. I can see my path always glowing – if not beneath me at least beside or in front of me.

Back to this micro love thing. There are these people who light up the whole room when they enter. They tickle out our brightest smile with their mere presence. I recently found out that I meet these kinds of people over and over again – sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week, some of them might stay for the rest of my life.

It doesn’t have to be an encounter with a person of the sex of interest or with a person at all. It can also be this sunrise that causes a wave of goosebumps all over your body. It can be the warmth of the morning sun on an early spring day. Or a good nap, a long hug, an intense smile of a stranger. You get where I’m going here.

These micro moments are macro love – the essence of our life. The love expands in our whole body and lets us shine as soon as we let it light up our soul.


Learning To Live

Life is too short for contemplation. To live properly means to live now. Living in the now means to surrender to the moment instead of yearning for future fulfillment. The pursuit of happiness leads either to the present or it leads nowhere. It is that simple.

To live now means to release all energy that gets tied up in our mind, trapped by ‘decision making’ and finding the (right) answers to the (wrong) questions. Because there are no questions. There is no such thing like ‘the right moment’ or ‘enough time for….’. There is only this one moment. And we got to live it. Now.

Have you ever tried to relive a moment? To recapture an experience? At best it’s an reenactment, a play, but nothing more. We can’t recall life.

Being present means letting life happen without any attempt to take control or judge. Good luck with this. There is so much energy wedged in the urge to ‘control’. We punish ourselves by always aiming for something. We have to understand that we can only live as long as we flow with the spirits. Life is like a wave of energy that conveys us into our true power. All we need to do is to trust.

Living now means simply to live – right now and now and now.

It is the pure reception of what is and not re-action to every impulse of our ex- or interior. It means self-awareness, but not continuous self-consciousness.

The only absolute truth is that nothing ever remains the same. So, why be caught up in thoughts and plans instead of just living the life?

To be fully present is an artform in a world of confusion. In reality it is so simple – just like dancing.