We've all been there. You had a lazy morning and you keep getting distracted. Checking your email or your Pinterest seems more interesting than starting on your to-do list and you really just want to watch Netflix for an hour. Then another hour. Then you have to make lunch. Then you have to clean up. Then you realize you haven’t showered yet. And it’s been a while since you’ve cut your nails. Pretty soon, the day is over and you haven’t accomplished a thing.
So what can you do when this happens? Let me share a few tips that help me when I really don’t feel like being productive
Tip #1: Remember that you don’t have to “feel like it.”
Sometimes I get stuck in the mindset of thinking that I have to wait till I feel like it to start being productive. I think that trying to work or clean or finish that project will actually be counterproductive if I’m not in the mood. I think I have to somehow motivate myself before it will be worth my time.
But honestly, when has anyone been more motivated after wasting time? When have you ever watched an episode of Netflix and instead of thinking, “I could watch one more,” you’re like, “yeah I’m good now. I really want to start working on that project.” The truth is that the more you put something off, the less you’ll want to do it. So just do it anyway. Even if you don’t feel like it, you can still get a lot done. And you’ll definitely get more done than if you did nothing.
Tip #2: Get some momentum.
If you’re struggling to just get started, just tell yourself that you only have to work on it for half an hour. You know what they say; “the hardest part of any journey is the first step.” Starting a ten thousand step journey sounds really hard, intimidating, and unpleasant. But if you tell yourself you only have to take three steps, and then you can do the rest later, you’ll be able to take that first step much more easily. Then once you’ve started going through the motions, it’s a lot easier to keep going past the first three steps.
Tip #3: Break it up.
It’s good to build up your momentum, but if you start losing steam, that’s probably a sign that it’s time for a break. You don’t have to finish everything in one sitting. Most of the time, you’ll be more productive and produce better results if you let yourself rest every once in a while.
A word of caution when you decide to interrupt your momentum to take a break. Remember to be in control. You’re taking a break, not a vacation. Remember that. If you have to, use tip #2 again to get you going after your breaks.
Being productive all the time can be hard, but if you can learn how to be productive even when you don’t feel like it, you’ll get a lot more done.
Dr. Dave and Callie