“Concentrate for crying out loud, Dave!”
I actually shouted this out loud to myself as I became distracted for the umpteenth time recently. There are enough obstacles in the way to getting things done as it is – but trying to find the motivation to get things done without distractions and without procrastination getting in the way can be hard.
Without further procrastination then (see, I’m learning already), I thought I’d share my 10 Quick and Simple Tips to help you Boost Motivation and Beat Procrastination – or as I like to call it….. How To Get Things Done.
Music choice is a very subjective and personal thing but we all have a particular type of music or favourite piece that puts us in a certain mood. As an example: Although I’m not a great fan of him, Jon Bon Jovi and “Keep The Faith” seem to get me really fired up for some reason – if I’m feeling tired and need winding up, I only need to play this at high volume to get me going again. At the other end of the scale, Enya sends me to sleep – which is good when I’m relaxing.
Use music or sound (you might find Whale calling gets your creative juices flowing for example!) to inspire you. Just spend a bit of time thinking about what kind of music works best to help you get things done.
Use Distractions for Distractions
You can only do so much to avoid certain distractions such as turning your phones off, etc. Acknowledging the temptations that normally distract you from your work is half the battle of stopping them (sneaking into an email, grabbing a coffee, checking a favourite website, etc) and a great way of avoiding these distractions is to use another distraction.
Distraction is, of course, what you’re trying to avoid doing in the first place, but using a more “Work-related” form of distraction (checking a project status, tidying up your desk a bit, standing up and stretching) is at least keeping you focused within your work environment.
Set a Time Limit and Stick To It
Rather than just plough on through a seemingly onerous task, simply get into the habit of working in short action-packed bursts of 20 minutes or so with a short break in between. This is a very popular technique used by a great many academics and it’s surprising how much easier a task seems when it’s broken down into short little bursts with a break in between.
Psyche Yourself Up
Just as I did in the opening paragraph, try Psyching yourself up by talking to yourself, moving around, repeating positive affirmations and generally just winding yourself up almost like you would prior to a sporting encounter, competition or another big event. It simply breaks through any lethargy or procrastination and gets you motivated to move in the right direction again. This one works really well for me personally.
Have a To-Do List that is Achievable
If you haven’t already got one, a ‘To Do’ list is absolutely essential. Have a good look at your ‘to do list and make sure that you have broken it down into achievable chunks. Keep your list neat, well ordered and cross off any items that are old, unrealistic or could be delegated elsewhere – the list will become more effective and you’ll feel a lot better.
Don’t Check Your Email for the First Hour of Work
OK, I realise that this might not be practical for everyone but think about it for a minute – If you can reschedule your day so that you don’t get distracted by whatever has landed in your inbox overnight, you can crack on and get a solid hours worth of uninterrupted work done on an important project without distraction. I’ve started doing this and it’s amazing how much more I can get done, what’s more, you feel much better than you have achieved something much earlier in the day.
Put Constraints On Your Work
Try putting creative constraints on your work or personal projects – Only 500 words, 24 hours, 10 people, 15 slides, etc. It sets definitive targets for you to aim at (little goals if you like) and this tends to focus the mind rather than just plodding along until you ‘feel’ like you’ve finished. This works particularly well alongside setting time limits as above.
Act on New Skills and Ideas
It’s easy to put off using new skills or developing new ideas because you have convinced yourself that you don’t quite ‘know’ enough about it yet or you need more information. Don’t wait – GET ACTIVE. Start taking action, start doing something and it will all soon fall into place – you’ll feel happier because you will see positive things happening.
Keep Track Of What You Are Doing
You should have an accurate goal plan or even just your To-Do list – either way, keep a record of what you are achieving. By keeping a status board or a simple journal you can actually visualise yourself moving inexorably towards your goals. Being able to see your progress is in itself a huge motivational boost that will increase your productivity and assist you further in getting things done.
Understand and Overcome Your Fear of Failure
It’s a well-documented fact that there is a part of your brain that never wants you to risk doing something different, start something new. make a change or generally get out of your comfort zone – it simply wants you to stay doing what you’re familiar with, sheltered, fed, remain quiet and simply survive. Even if you take the step towards making a change in your life or doing something out of your comfort zone it’s all too easy for your brain to get ahead of itself and start making excuses for your failure – this will affect the entire outcome negatively.
You can’t entirely stop your mind from thinking these thoughts but you can learn to recognise what is happening and make every effort to work past it.
And that is my interpretation of how to get things done. I would love to hear your comments and especially your stories of how you were able to snap yourself out of a rut and motivate yourself to get moving forward again. What strategies have you found particularly useful to help you through procrastination or a lack of motivation?