No matter how much you love your job, there will be times when you’d rather be doing anything else but working. Maybe it’s a beautiful summer day, and you wish you were at the beach. Maybe you just had an enormous carb-filled lunch, and you’re ready to catch a snooze under your desk.
Whatever’s keeping you from getting stuff done, you can overcome it. The trick is to admit that your motivation is lacking, and tackle the problem head on.
7 Motivation Tips for When You’d Rather Be Napping
Here are a few things to try:
1. Take a break.
Sometimes, all the willpower in the world isn’t enough to restore your focus. If you catch your attention wandering, and can’t seem to stop scanning the internet or checking your social media feeds, it’s time to get up and walk away – bonus points if you can go for an actual walk, outside, where the fresh air is.
Taking breaks is an essential part of being a productive worker. Experts say that concentration is like a muscle: it needs rest, as well as exercise, in order to perform at peak ability.
2. Promise yourself a treat.
If you finish proofing these pages, you can get a cup of coffee. If you read this report, you can have a snack.
They don’t all need to be food-related, either. (In fact, if you’re watching your waistline, or even your cholesterol, they probably shouldn’t be.) A walk or a quick chat with a friend can be motivating if you’re in the right frame of mind. But don’t be afraid to resort to some good, old-fashioned bribery to get yourself back on track.
3. Change tasks.
A change is as good as a rest. If you can’t get up and walk away from your desk for a bit, and you’ve maxed out your treat allotment for the day, sometimes just looking at something new will help reboot your brain.
In this case, it’s best if your new task is different from the one you’re putting aside for the moment. So, if you’ve been bogged down in spreadsheets all morning, maybe catch up on email this afternoon.
4. Work in sprints.
We lose our workdays one minute at a time – checking personal email here, glancing at Facebook there. To really get stuff done, sometimes you have to shut down all distractions and go full steam ahead … for a little while, at least.
We live and work in a culture that values multitasking above all else. There’s just one problem: many time management experts believe that multitasking isn’t really possible, at least not for most people. What we do instead is “task switching,” going back and forth between activities, and it’s costing us. Psychology Today estimates that we lose up to 40 percent of our productivity through task switching.
Moving to a sprint-based system might not solve the task-switching problem, but it does cut down on the tendency to switch tasks quite so often. The trick is to choose a start time and an end time, and work without interruption during the sprint.
Start off small, with 15-minute blocks, and work your way up. You’ll be amazed at how much more you accomplish.
5. Switch up your to-do list.
If your to-list is haunting you, change it. Move long-term tasks to another page, or break them down into component parts that are easier to accomplish. Add easy tasks that you usually leave off, like answering an email, just for the satisfaction of crossing them off. Block off your tasks by the hour, and create a calendar instead of a list of items. Whatever you’re doing now, do something different.
6. Do the hard stuff first.
Do you put off your hardest work until the last possible second? You might be shooting yourself in the foot, productivity-wise, especially if you’re someone who’s sharper first thing in the morning. (Or, at least, right after you’ve had your coffee.)
Even if you’re a night person, leaving hard tasks for later means that you’ve gambling that something else won’t come up in the meantime … a dangerous game for any working person to play, since very few of us have ultimate control over our schedules.
Listen to your mom: eat your vegetables first, and save dessert for later.
7. Try again tomorrow.
Have you tried all these things, and you’re still running around in circles? Maybe today’s not your day, friend. If you’re not looking at a looming project deadline, and the boss isn’t yelling for deliverables, it might be best to punt and start fresh in the morning.