When do you feel most productive? Maybe when you first wake up in the morning, or just after lunchtime? Or maybe you're a night owl with a knack for getting #allthethings accomplished at night.
Regardless of when that burst of energy sets in for you, one thing is for certain: we each find ourselves in the opposite state of mind from time to time, lagging and feeling totally unmotivated. For me, this sets in around mid-afternoon — when there are just a few more hours of the workday left, yet my energy falls flat in what seems like a matter of minutes.
For those times when you feel unproductive, here are my three go-to techniques for getting my head back in the right mindset and moving forward on the things that matter.
01. Start small
This is the easiest way to get started, no matter what you're trying to move forward on: start small.
What's the simplest thing you can do to get your body moving and your mind in the frame of making progress?
It doesn't have to be work related; stand up and wash a few dishes, get a load of laundry started, or clean out the trash and broken or unused supplies from your workspace. The idea here is to start moving forward in any way possible so you can build momentum and move into the more important tasks on your list.
02. Set a timer
This technique is commonly known as the Pomodoro technique, and there are lots of existing apps, plugins, and physical products designed to help you work in this manner.
The idea is simple: set a timer and work in spurts of 25 minutes (or whatever amount of time best suits your needs), then take a five minute break at the end of that spurt before diving into the next project or time block.
The reason this technique works so well? It gives you a limited amount of time and space to focus intensely on the project at hand; when the timer is up, move onto the next thing. This method trains your brain to work with a sense of healthy urgency and focus so you can make real progress on one task at a time.
03. Focus on your environment
Find yourself constantly distracted or uninspired? Focus on changing your behaviors by first changing your environment.
When we change our immediate environment, we encourage easier behavior changes and longer-lasting habits to form in the process.
Eliminate distractions by turning your computer and phone on Do Not Disturb. Wear headphones to eliminate external noises; listen to a focus playlist (without lyrics!) or simply enjoy the silence. Switch out some of your existing decor and accessories with new scents, visual inspiration, and work materials. A brand new notebook, killer oil cocktail, and new art prints can do wonders for refreshing your space in a flash. Get creative with the art and inspiration by trimming images you love from old magazines and gift bags!
Keep these tips on hand for the next time you feel motivation slipping away. Pushing through and finding your productivity energy again is more than doable with a few techniques in your back pocket!