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**Warning: I use slang in this post. Yes, I do know how to properly use the English language to put your mind at ease.**
Admit it. Times are tough right now. People are stuck at home and getting laid off. We’re in a time of complete uncertainty and it’s very easy to feel unmotivated and downright depressed.
As a result, you may hit snooze – one, two, or even three times in the morning.
It could take you a few hours (and possibly a few coffees) before you get into the groove for the day. And you tend to feel unmotivated, frazzled, and unable to get tasks done right now because you’re in a slump.
You’re not alone people. In fact, as a writer who works for businesses and many successful + wealthy entrepreneurs, I’ve learned one pretty interesting lesson:
Highly successful people are also having trouble concentrating and feeling defeated.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to lean into the defeat and take care of yourself. Lay back, take a few naps, and practice self-care. More on that here.
Then there are other moments when you may want to push through and get some stuff done. Here are some tips on how to stay motivated and productive when you’re feeling down and out.
1. Accept the road to success may be bumpy.
And that the bumps will be temporary.
One subconscious reason for having a lack of motivation is the thought that nothing matters anyway and we’re all doomed forever. In the past, I’ve avoided doing things because I thought that moment in time sucked and there was going to be no dawn at the other side.
I feared that I would try, get my hopes up, and then not be able to improve my situation. I needed to protect my ego, ya’ll. I’m here to tell you after a few good days of crying and whinning (maybe more than a few because I’ve had a lot recently), you need to try and fail to find out what works.
If you lack motivation because you fear failure and you’re scared of getting a few ego bruises in the process of doing what you need to do, understand that every single person ever has stumbled. They’ve just failed and felt craptastic in silence.
Ultimately, when all is said and done doing nothing is a way bigger fail than giving something your best shot.
Staying motivated when applying for jobs or working towards something can be difficult because the goal is out of reach. It’s an idea. Totally not tangible. Try closing your eyes and attaching emotions to your goal to make it more real and to get you energized.
Picture the moment of being where you want to be.
- What emotions will you feel when you get there?
- How will other people feel when you get there?
- What will you say?
- What will other people say to you?
- What opportunities will reaching your goal open up for you and your family?
- What will those opportunities mean?
Play out the scenario to yourself like a TV show in your own mind where you’re the main character. Then open your eyes and start planning the steps you need to take to get there.
3. Regroup and plan every P.M.
Moving on to some productive to-dos. Since we’re talking about productivity from a beating stagnation angle, let’s tackle it on a very small scale. By small, I mean independent actions.
At the end of the day, start taking stock of what you’ve done and what you need to do the next day, especially if you’re stuck at home. You need a reason to get out of bed every morning and this way you can already wake up with a plan.
Don’t overwhelm yourself either. List up to three goals for the following day. The first should be the most pressing goal that you need to make sure to cross off your list.
The other two could be “wishes” or extra things you can get done if you have the time. If you don’t get something done don’t be too hard on yourself, roll those to-dos over to the next day.
4. Banish the feed.
Commit to not going on social media right before bed and in the morning. The news may be too overwhelming. Plus, surfing too much before sleep can cut into your beauty rest. Use the time before you go to bed as your “me” time instead. In the morning, do the same thing. Turning to social media as soon as you wake up is a bad habit because what you see on your newsfeed can impact your entire day.
5. Start mornings with positivity.
I reeeealllly love the radio show This American Life, so I’ll find feel-good episodes of the show to listen to while I’m getting ready in the morning. You can even start out your day with exercise or yoga.
6. Control your email, don’t let it control you.
Email can be a big old problem area. And you’re probably getting HUNDREDS of emails about what’s going on in the world right now. It’s TIRING.
If my email is up, I’ll stare at it anxiously waiting for an email to pop up which distracts me from stuff I could be doing. Not even because I’m waiting for a specific email from someone. It’s just the idea of a stressful email coming through that puts me on edge. Yea. Crazy pants.
Let’s not let email control our days. My friend suggests checking email only at specific times during the day. That’s an idea I want to pass on to you. This way you can focus your energy on the tasks at hand and you’re not letting someone else who’s emailing you control your routine. (We’ll talk about how to organize your routine next.)
Depending on the type of job you have, checking or not checking your email could be challenging, but you could give it a try. I mean, if someone needs you urgently they can call, right?
7. Batch tasks.
Task batching is a tactic I learned a few years ago and is pretty popular in the productivity world. Essentially, it’s when you list all the tasks you have to do for the day and batch all like tasks together.
So say you want to apply for new jobs. You would batch the task of searching for jobs on sites like LinkedIn, Monster, or Indeed. Do the searching all at once. Then, you edit your resume for each job all at once. Then you submit your resumes to the job listings all at once.
The purpose of batching like tasks together is that multitasking can actually cause you to get less done. Concentrating on similar tasks at each moment can help you get things done more efficiently. This is a strategy that can totally work at your job, too.
8. Put yourself on the clock.
The second element you can add to batching is time blocking. (The Pomodoro method, thanks Picky Pincher!) This a hack that can be especially helpful if you’re a procrastinator. Time blocking is when you set a deadline for each task to create a sense of urgency.
You set 30 to 45-minute time blocks for your activities. When the timer goes off, give yourself a 5 to 10-minute breather, and then get back to work. The mini-deadlines can motivate you to get stuff done promptly.
9. Do harder things first.
You know when you have a list of things to do, and you decide to do the tasks that will take you the least amount of time first just to feel good about crossing something off? No.
If you’re in a slump, it makes sense to do one or two small tasks just to kickstart yourself. But what tends to happen when you always do the easy stuff first is that the more time-consuming things never get finished.
After you hit a groove, start challenging yourself by putting your more difficult to-dos first on the list.
10. Add some fun + rewards.
When you get stuff done (especially the hard and time-consuming stuff from above), reward yourself with a special somethin’, somethin’.
I like to reward myself with music breaks, trashy romance novels, or a glass of wine. I know, I’m super nerdy.
Figure out what you like and give yourself a little treat so you know there’s something good at the end of the road when you get something done.
11. Get a roll dog.
A roll dog is someone who sits on the passenger side during your journey.
They help you out with directions every so often and keep you awake at the wheel. Let’s face it, staying motivated alone is tough.
All of the successful people I know have other like-minded people they connect with regularly for feedback and support. How can you find an accountability/motivation partner? You can look in your friend group. A friend or family member may be supportive.
If you want a buddy that’s supportive and also on a similar journey, the internet is at your fingertips. There are Facebook groups on almost any topic out there from weight loss support groups to personal finance support groups. Social media is where I’ve found some of my favorite roll dogs.
12. Change up the scenery.
If you’re doing housework, you obviously need to do that at home.
But if you’re doing work that you can do from your laptop like studying, taxes, budgeting, or creative work, get outside! I work at home most days, but I feel most creative and productive when I sit outside and work. It’s something about fresh air that gets the brain juices flowing.
13. Use website blocker sites.
Sometimes distractions can be too much for us to resist no matter how awesome we are especially since we all have a computer and we all have a mobile device. All the willpower in the world may not be able to stop you from watching videos of dogs licking owls all day.
I use the stayfocusd website to block sites from my computer during working hours. I limit myself to 10 minutes on social media sites and certain news sites during the day.
14. Go on a social media fast.
I have some tips on how to clean up your social media accounts here. But I’m a pretty big advocate of controlling your social media intake altogether.
Looking at what other people are posting distracts us from doing things in our own lives. Heavy social media use may also be linked to depression, although, it’s not entirely clear whether it’s the cause or effect.
You’ll find that once you make social media a non-factor, you have a lot more free time. More free time means more opportunity to do things that really matter to you.
15. Phone a friend for help.
Lastly, you can’t move a mountain on your own. Delegate things that you don’t have time for. Is there something you could pass off to someone else affordably to help you be more productive? Like a housekeeper or a babysitter a few days a week?
If not at home, maybe at work? Less of the drudge work could free up some mental space and motivation for the tasks that really deserve your time and will make a difference in your life.
Motivation for Unmotivated People
In closing, being in a slump and feeling unproductive is completely normal. You can get it through it!