Learn how to kick it into high gear in 15 different ways.
Struggling to get motivated and moving forward on work projects is a universal pain point. By all accounts, it’s as much an issue for freelancers and entrepreneurs as it is for office folk, and the causes of our ‘stuck-ness’ are all over the map! Since one of the currencies our culture deals in is efficiency, the good news is that there has been a lot of research surrounding the most powerful ways to hack your productivity when you just aren’t feeling it.
Learn Your Chronotype
Some people do their best work in the morning; others are night owls. Learning when you do which types of work best is a powerful science to hack your productivity, and know, “what you need to do to work with your body, not against it,” according to author of The Power of When, Michael Breus, PhD. Take the quiz to learn your chronotype.
Make a List
Taking stock of everything you have to tackle will start to enable you to slip into action mode. Lists also help you see the big picture and the weeds at the same time. Certain items logically flow into others, but it isn’t always clear to see before your tasks are firmly on paper.
An important part of the list-making process is prioritizing. Some tasks are urgent, while others are clearly low-priority. The interesting piece here, is that while you could easily argue to start with the most urgent tasks, if you’re getting stuck on one, moving forward with another to-do is better than just sitting around and worrying or wasting time on your phone.
Stream of Consciousness ‘Brain Drain’
If you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block, starting with a brain drain stream of consciousness exercise can help clear out some clutter and get your creative juices flowing.
No matter how much you don’t want to do a particular task, nine times out of ten if you force yourself to just start and commit for twenty minutes, you can move past your resistance and find your groove.
If you aren’t well-rested the productivity deck is already stacked against you. When you can, take a twenty minute power nap before you dive into the next urgent task.
Step Back from Distractions
In our socially connected world, there are all the in-person distractions, but there are also all of the pings from email and social media. When productivity is on the line, turn off notifications and put your phone away.
Don’t waste time and energy trying to think about too many things at once. You’ll achieve better results focusing on and completing each task at a time.
Set a Timer
When you remove distractions, try using a timer to focus in short blocks like an hour, then regroup
Set Mini Deadlines
Working with the timer model, create mini deadlines within your day to add a sense of urgency and ‘game-ify’ your tasks. You can even add a mini reward for each mini deadline met.
Take a Breath
When you’re starting to feel really overwhelmed with information, it’s time to take a break. A quick way to do this is by practicing mindfulness and coming back to your breath—a key practice in managing anxiety. Try this power breath technique to manage anxiety and feel calm and connected.
If you’re feeling cloudy-headed and restless, get outside for a quick walk around the block. Fresh air and ten to twenty minutes of physical activity will help you drop out of your head and into your body. From there, it will be easier to refocus and be productive in your next activity block.
Listen to Binaural Beats
Sit Near a Window
Research shows that sitting near natural light will not just improve your productivity and happiness, but will also help your sleeping patterns. All in all, sounds like sunshine is a recipe for working smarter, not harder.
Make Sure you’re Getting Your Exercise
Exercise is key for mental health and is proven to increase your focus and productivity, as well as your mood. Though always important, getting consistent exercise in the middle of a big project is crucial.