It happens to all of us. We have a to do list that’s a mile long, but really all we feel like doing is binge watching Netflix or going to sleep. And while I do feel like an occasional Netflix binge is good for the soul, there is still a lot of “adulting” that needs to happen, even in those times we aren’t feeling particularly driven.But how do you be productive when you’re not feeling motivated?
I started out by asking myself “why?” Why couldn’t I get motivated? Why was I struggling to complete these seemingly simple tasks that remained on my to do list day after day? I came up with two main reasons for my lack of motivation:
We were in the midst of launching our new branding and website which always makes things a little crazy and hectic, and then in the middle of that craziness, I had two really fun but also really intense businesses to launch, so coding and coding was taking over my brain, Add in the regular life stuff like the family and life obligations, and I had stretched myself incredibly thin and my brain was telling me that it just couldn’t handle any more. Someone does need more than 4 hours sleep right?
When I realized what was happening, I began to try to make a few changes to get myself out of burn out mode and back to a healthier (and more motivated) place.
I talk a lot about decluttering my “stuff,” but I am learning more and more that I need to declutter my time as well. I am a people pleaser. I hate to tell anybody “no,” which of course means that I typically end up with too many things on my plate. Often these are good things in and of themselves, but coupled with everything else I had been saying “yes” to, they were just extra tasks that were keeping me overly busy and contributing to my burn out.
So as much as it pained me, I had to choose to step back from a few things and say “no” to a few others when I was asked. It hurt. I even had a text message therapy session with my mom after I had said “no” to something because I was feeling horrible and like I was letting people down. But you know what? It was the right choice. Because when I say “yes” to something, it automatically means that I’m saying “no” to something else, and to keep my priorities in check (and maintain my sanity!) I just cannot say “yes” to everything. I can’t.
I have kind of an intense personality, to the point where if I’m not doing something to be productive or get ahead, I begin to feel guilty about it, especially when my to-do list is feeling kind of daunting. The reality is, though, when I really took a good hard look at my to-do list, very few of the items were actually urgent. Most were self-imposed deadlines that, if I were to push them back for a day or two, would not be the end of the world at all.
Since I was distracted, exhausted, and not getting much done during my “work” time anyway, I stopped trying to force it. I sat on the couch and watched a Younger Finally OMG who doesn't love the Duff! and let my brain just go back to the Ah moment of what it would be like to be 21 again, And it was lovely.
Sometimes we just need to let go of the to-do list and give ourselves a break, and we need to be okay with that.
During these periods of being crazy busy, sleep is often one of the first things to go. I’m always tempted to stay up super late to be able to check off more items from my to do list, but I find that when I don’t get enough sleep, I have trouble focusing the next day anyway, so my plan backfires. Instead of attempting to “burn the midnight oil,” I recommit to getting at least 7 hours of sleep, and during my work time the next day I am able to be much more focused and productive.
If I can start right in on my hardest task, I will have gotten it out of the way and won’t spend my entire day (or week) dreading it. I find that completing that tougher tasks helps me feel a sense of accomplishment and gives me momentum to complete the rest of the things on my to do list that day.
A few years ago with this method, I set a timer for 25 minutes and commit to focusing only on the task at hand for that amount of time– no checking social media or email, no getting distracted by other things. When the timer goes off, I take a 5 minute break, and then head back for another 25 minute focused chunk of time.
When it comes to tasks I’m dreading, this is especially helpful because I know if I can just stick to it for 25 minutes and knock a large piece of it out of the way, I will feel so much better when it’s over! I've brought this method back into my life and boy am I glad to hear the ding again!
Writing some of these things down is kind of funny because I’m realizing that I’m using some of the same tactics on myself as I tell my Clients! But setting a day and time each week to reward myself has been nothing but excitement. Thursday Night late night shopping I set myself to a small budget and buy myself something that makes me happy! We need these happy moments guys! I hope you're taking notes.
Being in business is hard, you guys! And it’s especially tough when you feel like you’ve hit a productivity slump. Yes, there will be times when you’ll be on a deadline and have to knock it out even when you don’t feel like it. In that case, I just try to picture how great the end result will be and push through until I’m able to put the task behind me.
But we’re not robots. We can’t live in a constant state of overwork and overwhelm. We have to be able to give ourselves some grace, take a step back, and fall into a pace of life that will be sustainable and healthy for the long term. It’s not always easy, but we’ll definitely be thanking ourselves in the long run!
Be Strong - Be Savvy - Be #ABOSS
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