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Friday, 17 November 2017

PRODUCTIVITY SERIES: 3: 8 Ways To Stay Motivated (When You Don't Want To Work)

Part 3 of the Productivity Series is another long post, and this one is something I need to read myself from time to time. 

1: 5 Steps To Getting Rid Of Distractions

2: 5 Free Apps That Will Make You Way More Productive 

3: 8 Ways To Stay Motivated (When You Don't Want To Work)

4: 10 Quotes That Will Keep You Super Pumped!

Part 3 of the Productivity Series is another long post, and this one is something I need to read myself from time to time. 

You know that feeling when business is slow, or it's too fast, or it's just regularly paced but your mind doesn't want to co-operate on certain days? Basically, if you're a human being, you've probably had days when your motivation just hasn't shown up to work. (If you haven't, please tell use your secret!)

On those days, it is very easy to lose sight of why you're even here and what you're meant to be doing, which can lead to a destructive downward spiral of boredom and feeling lost.

I promise you there's sunshine on these cloudy days, if you only know where to look!

Plus, I've put all the tips AND 5 EXTRAS on a cool checklist for you, so grab yours now!

8 ways to stay motivated and productive when you don't want to work (+ a free checklist with 5 extra tips)

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8 ways to stay motivated and productive when you don't want to work (+ a free checklist with 5 extra tips)

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1. Make a list of the reasons why you started.

Remember that giddy feeling when you first started working on your current project? Or that amazing high when you got your job offer or your place on that degree program? 

How about those butterflies in your stomach when you hit send on the online application form for this work placement?

Make a list of reasons that motivated you to get started doing what you're doing in the first place. Write in bold letters and stick it by your screen, or give it a valued spot in your sacred workspace. This will help you remember why you started, what moved you enough to take assertive action, and will help shift your focus from the millions of tiny, irritating details and menial tasks, to the awesome, fulfilling end goal!

2. Create a vision board.

Now don't click away just yet, I'm not asking you to spend hours reading The Secret!

All a vision board does is give you a visual reminder of your end goal. As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, most of the information your brain processes has something to do with visual input. The vision board concept takes advantage of this fact and helps you quite literally keep your eyes on the prize!

And it doesn't have to be a literal board on your wall with carefully printed and arranged pictures that will take hours to find and assemble. My first attempt at a proper vision board was a two page spread in my journal, where I printed off a bunch of inspiring pictures off Tumblr, but I almost never consciously flip back to look at it. However, it is a prominent bulge of photo paper in a notebook I use every day, so there are times when I open to the vision board spread without meaning to, or feel the texture of the heavier paper through the pages I'm working on, and I'm instantly reminded of all the awesome pictures on the spread and all the pictures of what success looks like to me.

More recently, I've stuck my visual goals on to a Pinterest board! This is a super quick and easy idea, and I find myself constantly updating my vision board if I have a moment to spare. I scroll through this Pinterest board every morning before I start working, and every night before I drift off to sleep. These couple of minutes go a long way in keeping me focused on what I'm working towards, and give me an incentive for all the lonely hours spent typing till my wrists hurt!

3. Find a schedule that works for you.

Here's an often overlooked fact: there is no one universal schedule that works for everyone. There is no right (or wrong) way to lay out your days or week. Scary, huh?

Yes, it can be intimidating, having to create your work schedule all by yourself. If you're your own boss like I am, this is twice as hard, because there is no structured nine-to-five to get you started. And even if you do work regular hours, a lot of this time is unstructured, leaving it up to you to fill in the gaps between meetings and presentations in a way that helps you get the most out of your work-day.

However, I like to see this as a much-needed freedom of choice! Even back at Uni, I loved having self-guided study time, especially those few weeks before exams began. Being able to set your day up allows you to allocate your time and energy in a controlled way, which to me is the best way to work.

Here's a quick summary of how I go about creating my perfect schedule. I fist begin by blocking off chores that need to get done every day, such as laundry, cooking and eating (yes, breakfast and lunch count as chores for me), preparing meals for my pup, Summer, tending to the plants - you get the idea. Once these are scheduled, I split the rest of my day into blocks based on energy levels. 

I know I have the highest amount of energy in the mornings just after I wake up, so I use this time to do all my heavy thinking, content planning, and working on big projects (one example is Winstagram, the 5-day e-mail course). Then, in the couple of hours before lunch, I work on blog posts. 

After lunch is when my energy level drops, but funnily enough, this is when my creativity is at its peak, probably because I've got the heavy-duty work out of the way. I call this my "play time" - this is when I take pictures for my Instagram, work on my journal, and spend time updating and socializing on my social media. 

Personally, I work best in long blocks of time with fewer, hour-long breaks, which is totally contrary to the usual advice of "work in short sessions with many little breaks in between". Like I said before, there is no right or wrong schedule - there is only a right or wrong schedule for you. Take the time to analyse your days, and find what works for you.

4. Make your schedule bulletproof.

No excuses, no concessions. Once you've decided on a schedule, set it in stone. 

"But Srish, what if something comes up?"

Well, my friend, you need to take account of possible emergencies or last-minute changes when you're creating your schedule! This seems like an oxymoron, so let me explain.

When I'm setting my week up, I always allocate more time to each task than I know I'll take. For instance, if I know I'll take two hours to write a short blog post, I'll schedule in three hours instead. In this way, I can always trust that I have a buffer in case I overrun, or if something comes up, and that it won't affect the rest of my day as much.

So what do I mean when I say "bulletproof"? It means that I leave no gaps between tasks. If I do finish writing my blog post in two hours instead of three, I'll immediately move on to the next task. This ensures that no momentum is lost, and honestly, who doesn't love finishing a day's work early?

Another very important thing to remember is this: do not give yourself permission to stray from the schedule. I'm not kidding. If you allow yourself five extra minutes of break time today, it'll be ten extra minutes tomorrow, and before you know it, your schedule will have fallen apart.

In his world famous book, The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod makes a very poignant point right at the beginning. He says that you should never snooze your alarm clock in the morning, no matter how tired you are. If you do, you're telling your subconscious that it's okay to walk all over your plans, and unknowingly, you'll end up procrastinating whole weeks away! My mum was the one who pointed this out to me - we're both egging each other on to read more self-help books - and it struck a chord with the both of us. Ya' pal Hal's right! Quite literally, you snooze, you lose!

5. Use a DIY Mantra.

Oh please don't sit on the floor cross-legged chanting "Om" a thousand time if that's not your scene! A mantra is simply an umbrella term I use to describe short, punchy, motivating sentences and affirmations. Of course, if you do prefer an actual Sanskrit verse, go for it!

A DIY mantra can be anything you want it to be, even just a string of random words that mean something to you, as long as it gets you into that sweet spot of inspiration, where you believe you can conquer the world (hint: you can!) - like that moment in Moana where she sang the reprise to How Far I'll Go on the boat and all her ancestors were there to cheer her on and it still gives you all of the chills even on the thirtieth time? (Just me?)

My personal favourite mantra that always gets me straight to that place is this line from Beyonce's Formation: "I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it." There is just something about Queen Bey that makes me want to create an empire, and I'm totally feelin' myself! (ey? eyyy?)

For real though, this definitely works! How's this for an example: I had given up about halfway through the previous point on this post, dooming myself to another incomplete blog post because the procrastination set in. And then, I decided to take some of my own (and Beyonce's) advice, said/sang the mantra - it may have been the entire song - and here I am, typing again! It works!

6. There is no such thing as competition.

Honestly, I could write a whole post about this. You know what? I will.

How many times have you looked at the portfolio of someone with the same qualifications as you and thought, "Whoa! I could never be as good/lucky/talented as this person!" I bet your next thought was, "I should probably just give up. In a sea of people like this person, who's even going to look at my work?"

Listen, and listen well, because I will only say this once, and in just this one context:
It's all in your head.

There is no such thing as competition. There is only work and play. The whole idea of competition stems from a central mindset of scarcity - there aren't enough customers to buy work from him and me, no one can afford to subscribe to their service and mine...STOP.

There are over 7.6 billion people on this planet. Are you really trying to convince yourself that all of the people who are into what you're creating will knowingly buy from someone else? Personally, I'm glad there are thousands of other people doing the same thing I'm doing, because it means that I can totally pick and choose whom I want to work with, without the guilt of turning a potential customer away - they'll find someone else to do their work much better than me! It's a win-win! 

When we stop looking at other creatives (or employees or business-people or students) as competition, and we stop approaching our work from a mindset of lack, we learn to be completely secure in our work. Seriously, try it. Go one day feeling nothing but gratitude for all the people you'd normally envy, and see how much of a difference it makes to your work! When we work fearless of how others are working, we stop wasting energy on useless jealousy and instead, put it towards more constructive things. 

7. Lighten up!

You know how I said there is only work and play? Here's some more food for thought - There is no reason that work and play should be mutually exclusive! Yes, be sincere in your work, and yes, be 100% present at your desk, but please don't think this means you're not allowed to have fun! 

This is still my personal kryptonite, and I'm still working on lightening up with my work. If you work for in an unforgiving industry, for a formidable boss, it is only too easy to look at your work through the lens of high pressure and anxiety. While this is great to ensure you don't procrastinate too much, anxiety and fear are massive drains for your mental (and physical) energy!

Contra-intuitively, being extremely work-oriented doesn't necessarily make you more productive. This study from the Journal of Applied Psychology seems to conclude that, in fact, a lot of workplace related anxiety harms productivity, based on our inter-personal relationships with colleagues and superiors. If you approach your work with a fear of failure, there is no reason to believe that you'd do better work than if you were to approach it with a love for success!

When we look at work as play, not only does it reduce our anxieties and fears, thus making us way more productive by default, it also opens up new lines of thought and allows creativity to take charge for a bit, which is always a good idea!

Speaking of play...

8. Remember to schedule some play time!

It doesn't necessarily have to involve colourful clay or jungle gyms (though both of these are great options!), but play time is absolutely necessary to staying motivated. In fact, the older you get, the more you need play time!

It could be something as subtle as reading a book for an hour each day, or squeezing in a good cardio session, or writing, knitting, or doodling! Anything that has nothing to do with work, works. Play allows the analytical parts of your brain to ruminate quietly in your subconscious, while your conscious mind is out running through the grass, chasing butterflies! 

However, make sure to stick to that schedule we talked about at length. Play time can not take over work time, because then we just end up doing nothing, and the whole purpose of play time is lost. Not only do we get far less done, we also waste this new play time worrying about all the work we should be doing! This, my friend, is procrastination at its finest.

That's it, that's my new definition of procrastination: when play time takes over work, and you don't enjoy the benefits of either.

Remember, there are 5 EXTRA TIPS on my FREE CHECKLIST from this post, so grab yours now!

8 ways to stay motivated and productive when you don't want to work (+ a free checklist with 5 extra tips)

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8 ways to stay motivated and productive when you don't want to work (+ a free checklist with 5 extra tips)

As always, thank you so much for reading this post, and I truly do hope these 8 (+5) tips help you find that giddy feeling of excitement at work again!

Tell me what you think of these 8 tips in the comments below, on Instagram, or on Twitter! I love hearing from you guys!

And remember, I totally believe in you and what you do, so keep going! You got this!

All my love,

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