Do you experience times when you have to get down to work, but everything is against you? I tend to simply get down to it and tick items off my list, but today is a different story…. The sun is shining and I’d rather relax in a park than face a deadline. How do I keep going?
Fine, the sun is great, but work will not get done on its own. A specific deadline is motivating enough, anyway, but there are times when you need to complete something regardless of the schedule, for example, translate your own web page, finally assemble your portfolio, or get in touch with clients. It’s no secret that taking care of yourself is sometimes the trickiest. I may convince you if I say that looking into things that seemingly don’t require rush might bring you unexpected, great outcome; but if conditions are adverse, it will not be of much help. Let’s get to the point, then; here come my 11 mind-blowing tips on how to get down to work, when you definitely don’t feel like it:
1. Start your day well
Get a good-night’s sleep, have a decent, delicious, and nutritious breakfast. For example, treat yourself to a millet salad, boiled eggs, an upgraded oatmeal (I used to hate oatmeal, but started eating it after writing this article for my Polish blog [podlinkowanie] and now it’s a staple for me. I actually like it!). Not enough time? Get even at work by dropping into a café and spotting the best sandwich; take good 10 minutes to do only that. Prep yourself mentally for work, even if you’ve just had to rush to the office.
2. Move it
Work out in the morning. Physical exercise in the early hours will boost your energy for the whole day. I put my sweats on three times a week at 6.30 and no longer have any problems rising with the sun. When the workout is done, getting a work task completed is a piece of cake. Any volunteers to join me in Warsaw, give me a sign!
3. Make your workspace comfy, but don’t waste time on cleaning up
“I’ll get down to work ASAP, but first, let me get rid of this mess” is a great excuse, but don’t fool yourself. By all means, Ordnung muss sein, working comes easier in a cleaner environment, but putting off your real job only because of mess around you is a total waste of time. Personally, I spend 5 to 10 minutes to get my workspace ready, clean, and clutter free, ignoring all the rest. Surprising or not, tidying up is not my top priority and this kind of thinking hasn’t got me killed yet.
4. Select specific tasks
Randomly settling down in front of your computer may come out productive but not at all times. If you don’t set a goal or a direction you want to follow, how will you measure your progress? Besides, too many ideas and plans on your mind disturb your thought process, and get in the way of your staying on top of things. To avoid distractions, I choose up to 3 specific tasks to complete in a time period and fully bury my head in them. When they’re done, I feel loads of satisfaction and have energy for more.
5. Schedule breaks
If at the thought of a few hours’ work, you want to hide in bed or go for a wake, there’s a way to make your day more tempting. Plan out breaks – lots of them – even every half-an-hour. Theoretically, on a break, you’re not working, so… Are you wasting valuable time? Not in the least, you’re simply getting your energy and motivation back. It’s a great time to have a laugh, chat with friends, or even read a book. Whatever you like, as long as it makes you want to come back to your desk… until the next break.
6. Start off with a pleasant task or… Simply START
I usually begin with a short but pleasant task, for example, writing the first paragraph of an article, to move on to the most tiring and difficult item on my list. A nice beginning motivates your subconscious to work, because it makes the whole process seem more appealing. Suddenly, instead of bored and exhausted, you feel just in the right place.
Another way is just getting started. The simplest path to gradually cross tasks off your list is actually getting a move on.
7. Carrot on a stick
What kind of carrot? It’s simple – delicious drinks and food, permanently on my desk, make a good prize. “When I’m done translating this piece, I will hustle myself a good cup of honey and ginger tea’’, or “after I clean up my mailbox and reply to a few messages, I’ll have a right to a huge bowl of strawberries”. Another way of rewarding yourself is switching from work to other activities, which is especially good for freelancers. After working for a couple of hours, you surely deserve a short walk, or a lunch break with just enough time to watch an episode of your favourite series. Think of these nice moments as medals for your effort, and see the energy level boost.
And this notepad will keep you energized and organized!
8. Don’t waste time…
…if you really don’t feel like doing anything. But if you do have something important to see to, you probably also tend to take on easy and unimportant tasks. For example, you look through yesterday’s emails, tidy up your papers, take your time reading press. Okay, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it at all; the bottom line is, the world will be still standing if you do them last, instead of wasting time when the day begins. So, first things first – start with priorities, and if time allows it, you’ll look through your emails, too.
9. Switch off notifications
Facebook, Twitter, phone, text messages, news from different platforms. Of course, even my application task list goes on every couple of hours and sends motivational messages. Unfortunately, when you want to maximize productivity but your energy’s running out, these notifications will finish you. So, turn them off on every mobile device and your computer. You will survive without your mails popping out on screens. Checking mailbox every once in an hour is enough. If something urgent comes up, you phone will be most likely ringing. If not, an hour’s delay will not change a thing. You, however, will be able to concentrate on one task only with faster results. And the faster the results, the more energy you have to keep on working.
10. Treat yourself
Start with a small treat, it may be a nice or simple task (see point 5), or something real. For me, it’s most often a fancy breakfast, a strong, fragrant tea, or delicious hot water with honey, lemon, and ginger. Now, in the summertime, I’ve switched to smoothies, and the result is as good. I sweeten the pill (my day) by treating myself.
11. Change between tasks
I’ve mentioned that you should do one thing from start to finish. But sometimes one task is so terribly boring that I have to take another path. I divide work into chunks and arrange them to make my day diverse. I sometimes focus on three texts at the same time, if the deadline is near, but not urgent; I do each of them for an hour our two to feel at least some dynamics.
I can swear by these methods, but I don’t guarantee they will work for everybody; when the chips are down, it all depends on your prioritizing and self-motivation skills. You feel that you don’t want to but you have to. The truth is, you don’t have to do a thing. This particular job, this commission, and this money you will earn – it’s all a choice you make. So take responsibility for it. In a moment of struggle, help yourself and help your motivation come up to the surface. You’ve already got 11 ideas how to do it.
Check out Golden rules of networking or How to get the most out of conferences