Willpower affects your brain much the same way as physical activity does to your body – both eventually cause fatigue and can make it hard to push through. When you feel like you’ve hit a wall in terms of motivation and can’t manage to get yourself to be productive, it’s often because you’re dealing with mental or emotional fatigue. Learn how to break through your slump with these three tips to refocus and regain your productivity:
Write Out Your Intentions
Mentally reviewing all of the tasks you need to do is a surefire way to become overwhelmed and not know where to start. Create a list of your highest priorities (the “must-do” items) and then break them down into the smallest actions possible. For large projects, it may be helpful to work backwards from the end result by listing the milestones (example: completed project, draft for approval, rough draft, outline), and then creating small steps within each milestone. It’s a lot easier to get started if you’re not wasting mental energy scrambling to figure out what you should be spending your time on.
Take Control of Distractions
The temptations of surfing the web, chatting with coworkers, or even just constantly checking email are often behind a slump in productivity. Everyone has a different distraction, so it’s up to you to protect yourself against them. You don’t have to give themup entirely – instead, schedule them in. Tell yourself after you work for a designated amount of time, you’ll take a break and devote it to your distraction of choice. Knowing that nothing is forbidden may take away some of the dread that’s causing you to slack off.
Commit to Just One Thing
Getting started is generally the hardest step in overcoming a productivity slump, but once you overcome that hurdle, everything you’ve been dreading and putting off will be much easier (and likely not as bad as you thought). For those times that motivation is at an all-time low and your willpower reserves are depleted, tell yourself you’ll do just one small thing. No matter how seemingly inconsequential (such as creating a new document and saving it with a title), the very act of getting started will create the momentum you need to continue.
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