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Being Productive (Even) When You Aren't Feeling It

We have all been there — days when you have absolutely NO willpower to do anything. Shower, nope. Make a healthy meal, probably not gonna happen. And work? Forget about it. These days can be tough. Especially when you know you have so much to do (which might be why you aren’t actually motivated, but more on that later).

All of us have felt this slump before, don't worry you are not alone. But with a couple tweaks you can conquer everything on your to-do list (we promise).

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Prioritization is your friend.

While there are plenty of apps out there to help you understand your priorities, sometimes the best way to keep track of what you need to do is the old fashioned way: a pen and some paper. In the morning simply write down three to four HIGH PRIORITY activities or tasks you need to get done.

This list can include work or personal things (like showering). Having a list will help keep you going during the day, the whole day, since you know exactly what needs to get done next. Plus, who doesn't love the feeling of crossing something off the list?

Know when you are on fire.

No we aren’t talking about on actual fire. We mean when are you MOST productive. Some people are morning people, some work better at night. If you know when all your pistons are firing it will be easier to plan to get the harder tasks done during that time.

So for example, if you feel like Superman right around 8 AM then knock out the tougher, longer tasks around that time. The same goes for the other way around. If you know by 3:00 PM your motivation or drive starts to lag, then wait and do the fun or easier tasks then (like that face mask you've been putting off). Knowing when you are at your best is key to getting things done and not feeling overwhelmed.

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Take some “me” time.

It is crazy to think that you will be “on” 100 percent of the day. This is just not how humans work. So instead of trying to fight evolution and human characteristics (always a losing battle) instead simply take a couple breaks throughout the day. This can be shorter breaks, like 5 minutes after every 25 minutes of work, which is called the Pomodoro Technique, or longer breaks, like every 52 minutes take a 17 minute break for yourself (this is what many social scientists recommend). Simply do what works best for you.

During these breaks, stop looking at a screen, get up from your desk and either do a quick walk around, make some coffee or tea or just stretch. Anything to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen (your eyes will thank you too).

Or break a sweat.

Going off the previous idea of taking a break. It sometimes might even be more effective to take a longer break, say 45 minutes to an hour, and break a sweat. Working out during the workday will help you be more alert and focused once you get back to your computer. Meaning it will likely help your productivity and keep you fit.

While it can seem like such a chore to change into workout clothes, get all sweaty, change back into your office attire, and then go back to sitting at your desk (probably still a little sweaty), the health and productivity benefits likely outweigh the smell. But if you are really not feeling it, then do less intensive exercises, like yoga.

Quit while you're ahead.

This might be the hardest task of all. Sometimes (if not all the time) it is important to stop working while on a high note. This means once you finish all the big task stuff — the three or four things on your list, call it a day. Don’t keep working on tasks if you are starting to feel shot. Instead leave those for the next day, and put them on the top of your to-do list. This will help you keep your motivation going throughout the week. Instead of feeling burnt out early on (say on Monday or Tuesday).

This is ESPECIALLY important when you are sacrificing sleep for work — which is never a good idea. Sleep is almost always the most important piece to staying motivated. So instead of slogging away on something that can easily be done the next day, go to bed.

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

So when those tougher days hit you, the days where all you want to do is lie in bed and watch mindless TV, think back to these helpful productivity tips. Hopefully, it will get you up and moving, and motivate you to seize the day!


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