Motivating yourself to get things done at work when you were wildly unproductive the day before can be a challenge. But, do you know what I find even tougher? Finding the inspiration to put my nose to the grindstone after I was far too productive.
You know those sorts of crazy weeks—the ones when you’re scrambling around and putting out fires. You have meetings and phone calls, big projects and small tasks, emergencies and pre-planned obligations, and a hefty dose of late-night events to top things off.
Your week is so insanely busy that you welcome the weekend with open arms. But, alas, it’s just not quite long enough. By the time Friday rolls around, your work ethic feels like it’s running at an all time low. And the thought of doing this all over again on Monday makes you want to run out and buy a caffeine drip.
So, how can you light a fire under yourself when you know you need to work—but can’t quite muster up the motivation? I’ve found myself in this exact situation too many times to count, and I swear by these four tips.
1. Fix Your Posture
When you’re feeling tired and unfocused, it’s tempting to slouch in your chair and stare at your computer monitor with disdain. But, that lazy position isn’t doing you (or your work ethic!) any favors.
Posture can have a huge impact on the way you feel. In fact, one study shows that sitting up straight is directly correlated to thinking more positive thoughts about yourself. And, that added dose of confidence is just what you need on those days when you're feeling totally “blegh.”
2. Switch Up Your Scenery
When the thought of needing to work already feels like a rare form of torture, the last thing you likely want to do is park yourself in your same old chair staring at the same old scenery.
So, when you feel like you need a good, old-fashioned kick in the pants, it’s time to head somewhere a little bit different. “Making slight changes in your working environment will make a huge difference in your willingness to work.“When you shift things around it makes work feel new again which is great for re-igniting motivation,” explains Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist, in an article for Entrepreneur.
Personally, I’ve started sneaking out to a coffee shop when I reach my afternoon slump. Whether it’s the iced chai latte or the change in my surroundings (or both!) that gives me a much-needed boost, leaving my normal working spot definitely helps me zone in.
Don’t have the flexibility to peace out of the office whenever you feel like it? You don’t need to go far. See if you can move to a meeting room or a table outside to regain some focus.
3. Pick Just One Thing
When you’re already feeling tapped out of motivation, the thought of getting stuff done can feel completely daunting. You feel as if you’re staring up at this insurmountable mountain of even more things that need to get done—despite the fact that your energy levels are totally depleted.
But, rather than overwhelming yourself with all of the things on your agenda, pick just one thing you want to tackle first.
This is helpful for a few reasons. First, it gives you a starting point—which is just what you need when you’re feeling so swamped and drained, you don’t know which way is up.
Secondly, it’ll prevent you from spreading yourself around and starting a bunch of things that you never finish. Believe it or not, those unfinished tasks will quite literally stick in your brain haunt you—it’s called the “Zeigarnik Effect” (no, I didn’t just make that up).
That means you want to avoid jumping around and instead check off one thing at a time. Typically, the satisfaction that comes from completing something is enough to boost your motivation back up again.
Bonus Tip: Say the word “done” when you cross a task off your list. According to research, doing so will shift the electricity in your brain from more activated to relaxed, and also trigger your brain to release serotonin—which makes you feel good!
4. Use a Time Management Method
If you would’ve asked me about my method for getting things done just a few years ago, I would’ve said something like this, “Well, I stay at my desk until everything is accomplished.” I thought that made sense—I should stay stuck in one spot until my list was finished.
But, as you already know too well, that’s difficult to do when you’re feeling completely wiped out from your previous week.
Here’s when the magic of a time management method—like the Pomodoro Technique—comes into play. It’ll instill a sense of urgency to inspire you to get things done. But, it also has built-in breaks, which you’ll desperately need in order to relax and refocus.
When you’ve had an exhausting and demanding week, it’s tough to summon all of your motivation, sit yourself down at your desk, and do the same thing all over again the next Monday.
However, I do think it’s important to pay close attention to the way you’re feeling. If you’re so tapped out of energy that you’re teetering on the edge of burnout, your best bet is usually to put yourself first—whether that means taking a personal day or just practicing self-care the best you can.