We’ve all been there before. Stuck working on a project when you just have no energy and no passion. It makes it that much harder to complete the tasks ahead of you when you’re just no into it. While it’s easy to go out and do a Google search for productivity hacks and pull up a million articles that tell you the same thing in a trillion different ways. But we know that can be a load of crock.
So we’re going to debunk a few of those infamous productivity tips so that you can discover what really works for you.
1. Work on the most important things first: It’s 8 AM. You’ve got your breakfast on your right and your coffee on the left. You give a sigh and begin taking a glance over your to-do list for the day. You’ve got 5 tasks ahead of you and one of them is a doozy. You know that it will take you most of the day to complete, forcing you to stay late to finish your other tasks. Now the traditional productivity tip says to work on that big task first. But in all actuality, this isn’t the best way to go about taking on this list. What you need is the psychological boost of a few small wins before you take on that beast of a project. In his book The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg addresses how these small wins are able to set off a positive chain reaction, fueled by dopamine, which is a key chemical in helping you feel motivated. So go ahead and print off that flyer, respond to Suzy’s email or get down to inbox-zero. It’s all about the little things.
2. Create a master to-do list: Admit it, you’ve done this before. You’ve sat down and contemplated all the tasks you have ahead of you and proceeded to make a list. 350 tasks later and you feel overwhelmed and pessimistic. There’s no way you’re going to accomplish everything and on, time no less. That’s why the advice of creating a master list doesn’t work. All it does is raise your blood pressure and leave you frustrated. Instead, create a list of exactly what you need to do next. Does that mean that you need to make a daily task list? Most definitely. You can only do one task at a time, so focus on accomplishing your daily tasks versus an overall list. This way you’ll be able to manage your time as well as your productivity, to ensure that you’re meeting weekly expectations and goals.
3. Power through the low points: You’ve heard it. “Oh, you’re in a work funk? Just power through it. Your thoughts will come back to you.” We’re going to be honest here, this advice stinks. If you find yourself hitting slumps in your work that are lasting a bit longer than usual, what you could be facing is the onset of burnout. If this is the case, then continuing down the path that you’re on won’t do you any good. The best way to tackle burnout is to recognize the stressors that are causing the problem. Is it too many demands at work? Not enough sleep? Family troubles? Whatever the stressors are, identify them and work on eliminating or minimizing them. Remember to take breaks and allow yourself time to refresh and recharge.