Whether you’re struggling with being productive, or a productive person who wants to increase that productivity still further, there are a few simple tricks and techniques I’ve picked up over the years to get my mind on track and get down to business. It’s easy to procrastinate (and I’ve heard it said that the things you spend your time doing when you procrastinate are the things you should try to pursue as a career) but at the end of the day, you need to have your work done.
This is especially true when you’re working for yourself. It’s both a blessing and a curse that you don’t have a boss standing over you keeping you on task. Obviously, the sense of freedom is refreshing. But the trade-off is that you might be tempted to slack – after all, who’s going to yell at you?
Your team and your clients, that’s who. If you’re letting down the people who are giving you money, they’ll soon stop doing so. It’s a poor business indeed that has no income.,
So when you’re facing a productivity crunch and are having trouble finding the motivation to get it done, try some of these:
1) Exercise – When you get up out of your seat and walk around, you’re getting the blood flowing. I do some of my best thinking when I’m up and walking. Taking it to the next level by actually getting out and going for a run, hitting the gym, or enjoying a yoga session gets your body in work mode. This works better with regularity – if you’re out of shape, exercise might just make you feel even more tired – but a brisk run after lunch every day can help you get to work.
2) Eat Well – You might be surprised at how much of an impact your diet has on your productivity. Heavily processed food doesn’t sit well in most stomachs and can sap your energy. Similarly, foods high in sugars can leave your body out of kilter as it surges energy and then suddenly burns through it all. And if you’re lacking essential nutrients, your brain can’t function at full capacity. There are a lot of temptations out there, and it can be overwhelming to change diet, so consider making small changes sequentially – for example, switch from white bread to whole wheat, switch from standard dairy milk to organic, soy or almond milk (to get away from the hormones and additives in most dairy milk), and take to keeping crackers or fruit in your work area to satisfy the snacking urge.
3) Ride The Wave – Some days you have a tough time getting to work, but every now and again you get that burst of motivation that gets you into flow state. When you get in that mode, don’t break it. Ride it out as long as you’ve got it going. It’s almost impossible to predict when it’ll happen, and when you stop it you won’t be getting it back again, so don’t waste it. Power through your top priority work for as long as you’ve got the stamina.
4) Take A Real Break – A lot of the time, we justify our procrastination as taking a break, or use it as a reward for getting a small bit of work done which allows us to continue to avoid making real progress while continuing to worry about the project at hand. That’s miserable and self-defeating. Instead, if you find you really just aren’t making any headway on a project, give yourself a real break. Get up, designate a substantial length of time (at least an hour or two) to doing something you really want to do and not thinking or worrying about your project. Use the time for yourself, and you may find yourself refreshed when you get back to work. Similarly, sometimes you might just want to call it a day. Leave your work off your mind and give yourself a real break.