We’ve all been there. You get to work and don’t want to do anything. Maybe you just met a deadline for some important project and are a bit burned out. Maybe you don’t have anything pressing coming up and are tired of treading water. Maybe you just need a break from the grind of your normal routine. I’ve got some solutions to help you power through the productivity doldrums.
1. Consider taking the day off if you can. If your company is on the leading edge of time off, they realize the value of treating their employees more like adults and less like minons. Utilize this. Talk to your boss to see if you can get the day off and take it. Do something that will recharge you, whatever that looks like. You might go home and take a nap, spend the day reading, or whatever. Take the day to recharge, refuel, and do whatever you need to do so you can get back to work the next day.
If one day isn’t enough time, look at a vacation. You don’t have to travel somewhere exotic or anything. I’ve found a “staycation” can be just as recharging, or more so, than a regular vacation. Take the time off and come back ready to kick some tail and take some names. If you come back from your vacation still unmotivated, it might be time to consider a change of scenery in your professional life.
2. Pick ONE TASK to complete. Even if it’s a simple and mundane one. Even if it will take only five minutes. I say that because I personally will usually choose a quick and easy task as my starting place. It lets me check something off my to-do list and boosts my motivation ever so slightly. Doing this often leads to completing another small task, but even if it doesn’t, my day wasn’t a total waste because at least I did that one thing. To take your productivity skills to the next level, set a time limit for your task and just get. It. Done.
3. Give yourself a small reward at the end of each completed task, but avoid that reward being Facebook, LinkedIn, or some other time waster — unless you’re reading my articles! These are treasure troves of information and self-improvement…not time wasters 😉. It’s best if you can get away from your desk for a few minutes. You could go to the bathroom, fill up your cup of water, or take a hot lap around your floor. You could also go outside and take a hot lap around the block if it’s nice out. Whatever you do, tell yourself that when you get back to your desk, you’ll start on another task…then actually start another task when you get back to your desk.
4. Don’t start with a clean slate. I utilized this trick when I was writing my thesis and dissertation, and while it won’t help you for today’s lack of motivation, it will help you prevent such a conundrum tomorrow. It may be a bit uncomfortable for some people because most of us like closure and to start each day with a clean slate, but I will sometimes start another task I know I can’t finish that day so I have something to get the ball rolling the next day. When I was writing my research, I would never stop writing after I completed a whole section. I’d at least start the next section so I could avoid coming back the next day to a blank piece of paper. Picking up mid-thought was easier than generating that new thought from scratch.
Motivation can be a fickle bit—I mean mistress. But you’ll feel better about your life and the day if you can get something meaningful done. Maybe there’s a small task you’ve been putting off that’s been sucking on your mental stores. Do that task. Maybe there’s a deadline coming up that you can meet ahead of time. Do it. Let your boss know it’s done. Usually, the only thing stopping us from kicking tail and taking names on a regular basis is us. Don’t stop yourself. Just get it done. You’re a productive human being. You like the feeling of a job well done. Chase that feeling. It’ll be even better because you were dragging and still got it done. Get after it.
Rub some acetone on it and call me RIGHT NOW! Don’t put it off until tomorrow.
Side note/legal jargon: Everything on this blog is based strictly on my own personal, private views and is completely independent from my current employer unless otherwise explicitly stated. In no way, shape, or form is my current employer responsible for any written content on this blog, though I may borrow the occasional picture with appropriate permissions and credits.