Maybe it's because you're already anticipating an upcoming vacation--or everyone else's out-of-office emails are sapping your sense of urgency--but motivation can seriously slip this time of year.
In fact, while you're distracted hunting for Pokemon, binge watching the Olympics, or spending endless hours trolling Facebook, your once awe-inspiring productivity can fall off a cliff. Don't let that happen to you.
While everyone else is dragging their feet, you can be racing ahead. Put these 7 strategies in to action to get your motivation mojo back--fast.
Strategy #1: Eliminate Your Top Distraction
We all have different procrastination triggers, and unfortunately many of them are located right on our phones, tablets and computers. Whether it's personal email, online shopping, or your social media of choice, figure out your top time waster and absolutely ban it from work hours during a slump. That means that if "just going on Facebook for a sec," typically turns into a half hour session resulting in a deep knowledge of your high school friends' political opinions, the 'book is out. To keep yourself honest, use a digital time tracking app like Rescue Time.
Strategy #2: Make a Priority To-Do List
We marketers love our to-do lists, but yours might actually be working against you. The joy of crossing off an item often leads us to crossing off items that are easy to do instead of putting work toward the big ones. Instead, organize your to-do list into quadrants-- "High Importance, High Urgency," "High Importance, Low Urgency," "Low Importance, High Urgency," and "Low Importance, Low Urgency" --and check them off in that order. This will help you tackle urgent and important items first, and identify the lower priority items that shouldn't distract from your most important projects.
Strategy #3: Reward Yourself
It sounds pretty simple, but dangling a small carrot in front of yourself ("I'll treat myself to a walk outside as soon as I finish this proposal") can help you hone your focus--and add to a sense of accomplishment once you do finish an important task. Know what kinds of small, specific "treats" work for you, and use them whenever you need a little extra push to get something done.
Strategy #4: Keep Up Appearances
If you work from home, it can be pretty tempting to skip the shower, work in sweatpants, and keep messy piles of paper on your desk. There is no better way to feel unproductive than to sit around in this disheveled state. Elevating your attire to be more professional during working hours will give you a mental boost, and help you better define your "on" and "off" time.
Strategy #5: Tackle 15 Minutes at a Time
The amount of time that you anticipate a big project will take you to complete can create a mental barrier to getting started. Lower the intimidation factor by setting a timer and committing to work for just 15 minutes straight on the project.
After that chunk is done, step away, and try for 30 minutes next time. Chipping away in small sections until you're over the mental barrier will move you closer toward your end goal.
Strategy #6: Set Deadlines
If you're working for someone else, chances are you have deliverable deadlines in place. If you are your own boss or need to put work into your side hustle, though, it can be all too easy to give yourself endless extensions.
Be a tough boss and set yourself clear, immovable deadlines. Just like you would cancel plans if you were behind on a boss's deadline, cancel them if you are behind on your own. Your Friday night dinner plans have just become motivation to get to work on that project.
Strategy #7: Take a Little Time Off
It may seem counterintuitive to take time off when you're already falling behind, but it may be worth it in the long run if you are up against burn out. Plan a long weekend where you completely unplug from the office, and don't drag your projects along with you. The vacation deadline provides motivation beforehand, and the unplugged long weekend can help you combat burnout in the weeks that follow.