You have a to-do list as long as your arm but you’re just not motivated enough to do any of it. It happens to all of us at some point, and when it does, you just want to lie on the couch and watch TV. While this may seem like a great idea at the time, that list is not getting any shorter just because you’re ignoring it. So, how do you push yourself to be productive?
The first thing you need to do is to examine why you’re not feeling motivated. Dig deep and really be honest with yourself. Ask yourself the following:
Am I overwhelmed?
If you have a to-do list that’s a mile long, it can be quite overwhelming. You delay getting started because you just don’t know where to begin!
Take a step back and assess your list. Assign a number to each task as it relates to priority. No task can be equal in urgency! Now, you know what you need to do, and in what order.
Next, add the top five most important and urgent tasks to your schedule using a technique called Time Blocking. Time blocking is where you assign a specific task to a particular block of time. You know how long you can spend on one activity. It’s a great way to minimize distractions, procrastination and multitasking (which is actually NOT productive). I use this method frequently and have realized that it totally helps me to stay on track.
While scheduling, be realistic about the time frame in which you can accomplish tasks. If you bite off more than you can chew, you will get frustrated fast.
Am I Talking Myself Out Of It?
Don’t tell yourself that a task is too hard or that it will take too long as this decreases your motivation. Instead of these negative thoughts, reassure yourself that “You can do it!”. It may sound weird but it does work.
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Am I Tired?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to do a thing when you’re bone-tired. It’s exhausting having so much going on daily between work, kids and chores at home. Also, being run-down means you’re more prone to becoming sick or at the very least, irritable. (Then, you’re no fun to be around.)
Take a guilt-free break from it all and relax. Remember that in order to take care of your family, you need to take care of yourself. There’s no shame in it. Get eight hours of sleep at night because a good rest makes you more focused and productive the next day.
Am I Dreading A Task?
There are some things that I never look forward to doing. I tend to ignore them and leave them for another day which gives me time to dread them even more. (It’s a vicious cycle.)
Don’t fall into this trap. Tackle the most dreaded and difficult task first. This is often referred to as “eating that frog”. Start your to-do list this way and, as a result, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This feeling can propel you to complete the rest of your list.
Am I Scared Of The Outcome?
There are activities that we don’t want to accomplish because we’re scared of the outcome. Perhaps, you want to start an online business to make some extra cash but you’re terrified of what people will think or say. I get it! It’s hard to plunge head-long into doing something, not knowing how it will end. I’m writing this post right now, not knowing if people will like it or not but if you live your life in fear, you will never enjoy it wholeheartedly. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and do things even when you’re afraid.
How To Be Productive
Set a Timer
If the thought of time blocking completely turns you off (although I really recommend you try it first!), then use a timer as you complete activities. Set the timer for a particular amount of time and focus on one task, and only that one task, until the timer expires. Do not check emails, social media or anything else during this period. Afterwards, take a five-minute break and repeat.
For any task you are dreading, assign shorter periods of time e.g. 25 minutes to complete it. You can do anything for a short time and, once it’s done, you may be motivated to do something else.
Ask For Help
So often, we feel like we need to accomplish everything on our own. “Help” is a dirty word that you never dare utter to other people. But, you know what? You’re not Superwoman and you don’t have to be. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s smart even!
Having a support structure makes everything more manageable. Find one of your own by asking your family or friends.
When we do things alone, it’s easy to slack off when we don’t feel motivated. If there’s a task that you know you will need a push to complete, tell someone about it who will hold you accountable. That way, you have to answer to someone other than yourself when you don’t get things done. We can always make excuses to ourselves but it’s harder to make up plausible ones for someone else.
There’s nothing like having a little treat at the end of a long day. Whether it’s a glass of wine or a piece of cake, give yourself a reward for tackling that to-do list!
Sometimes, all we need is a little jump-start to be productive. Have a ton of cleaning to do? Set a timer for 15 minutes and clean what you can during that time. I’ll bet after the timer expires, you’ll want to clean just a little more even if it’s not the entire house.
We all have our ups and downs and it’s not possible to maintain energy and focus at all times. Unfortunately, we need both those things to be productive. Follow these practical tips to motivate yourself so that you can get stuff done.
How do you motivate yourself to be productive? Tell me in the comments below.