There are some days that you get to the office and you just don’t feel like working at all. Maybe you’re tired, maybe you’re distracted, or maybe there’s bigger things going on in your life. My own personal life has been so hectic lately with weddings and travels that there are some days I just can’t bear to look at another spreadsheet, so I keep putting off work and procrastinating, which only makes me more stressed. There are a couple hacks that will help you to stay motivated to work and stay on track even when you’re feeling lazy, overwhelmed, or generally apathetic.
If-Then Statements: Sometimes the issue you’re facing has to do with your indecision and unwillingness to deal with consequences or thinking through chains of events. If you find yourself paralyzed because you’re overwhelmed and unsure where to start, make yourself a schedule that’s based in if-thens. For example, “If it’s 2 PM, I’ll stop what I’m doing and work on the next task.”
Tell a Friend: People often perform better when they have to answer to someone, but not when answering to that person causes fear. For example, one reason people procrastinate is to avoid having to deal with a boss or higher-up who may not be happy with the quality or timing of the work. But if you hold yourself accountable to someone on your level who you trust to keep you honest without punishing you, you’ll find yourself more motivated to complete the task out of respect instead of fear.
Bribe Yourself: For lots of very good reasons, our brains try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. If the task at hand seems completely useless for no payoff whatsoever, you’re hard wired to avoid doing it. However, if you create an incentive for yourself, your brain will realize that there’s a purpose to the chores beyond just getting them done. The rewards could be small, like an extra 5 minutes of twitter scrolling or a quarter cup of skittles, but sometimes, that little extra incentive is all you need to kick your motivation into gear.
Take Step One: Sometimes, the biggest problem is overcoming the inertia. If you’re wasting time clicking through tabs and scrolling aimlessly through newsfeeds, your motivation to work will plummet. If you can muster up the energy to take step one of a monotonous task that you’ve been avoiding, you’ll find it’s easier to go on to steps two and three, and you’ll be done in no time.
Limit or Remove Distractions: Various apps will temporarily block the websites that prove to zap your time and reduce you to a mindlessly scrolling zombie. You can also put on a vacation auto replies on your email if you need to hunker down and do some work without the distraction of constant email dinging. The fewer distractions there are, the better your mindset will be to focus on the tasks at hand.