5 Tips to Staying Productive When It's Hardest

There are a zillion things that can distract us throughout our work day. The phone rings and something important needs to be fixed, you get an email that you have a direct message from Twitter so you go check woman-bored-at-workit out, a friend calls and invites you to lunch, your creative-self strikes and you get energized to start working on a new concept or product/service, the day is dragging on so you hop onto Facebook to see what’s goin’ on, you look at the clock and wonder how only 15 minutes has gone by, a visitor stops by … it goes on and on. Before you know it, the day is over and you only accomplished a few tasks on your to do list.

So here is my quick list of 5 things you can do to stay productive when it’s the hardest:

  1. Stay present. The times when you are most distracted is when you are thinking about what’s on TV tonight, or how you’re ever going to hit a deadline so you site and dwell on it instead of chip away at the project, or what you’re going to do this upcoming weekend, or you’re getting down on yourself for missing a deadline or having to fire someone, or you’re thinking about a relationship argument from last night.
    That’s not helping anything when you’re supposed to be at work and getting stuff done. Try to force yourself to stay focused on the task at hand. Reward yourself later for being on good behavior (I always like to spoil myself a little – getting ice cream, going to a movie, something).

  2. When you notice yourself starting to wander, look at your to-do list. Then think, “Can I really afford not to tackle these tasks right now? If I do nothing now, am I going to regret it later when I’m working late one night to catch up?”
  3. Reach out to someone who can snap you out of the mid-workday daze. I’ve had to call a friend before to say, “I’m getting nothing done. I have work to do, but I am lazy. Snap me out of it?” There are times that I will try to make excuses – yes, I’m human just like you – (“I’ll make it up later”, “I have plenty of time to hit that deadline” I tell myself), but it always catches up to me later. Sometimes a friendly boost is key.
  4. You may think you have plenty of time to hit a deadline, or you convince yourself you can catch up later in the week — BUT, during this time of selling yourself, think if you are considering ALL of the projects on your plate…not just the one you are trying to get out of for the moment. When I combine all of my projects and think about their deadlines, I don’t want to take time to do nothing otherwise I will always regret it later, during that weekend I have to work.
  5. If all else fails, get up and walk around for a minute. Take a quick 3-5 minute break and pump yourself up for the afternoon ahead. I do this at night sometimes when I’m restless in bed. Someone once told me, “If you ever feel restless at night, and you are tossing and turning, get up, walk around for a minute, then go back to bed.” It totally works! This will too. Sometimes you just need to break the chain.

We all have off days. These tips aren’t for those days. I just know that once or twice a week I feel myself getting distracted easily. So I figured maybe you were having the same struggles.

Do you have other suggestions that work for you?
Tell me about it by writing a comment below!

3 thoughts on “5 Tips to Staying Productive When It's Hardest

  1. Denise

    Enjoyed reading the tips and I can definately relate! I’ve found that music, no matter what task I am on…allows my ADD mind to concentrate! I am so much more productive and on task, when there is ‘white noise’ or music playing in the background.

    Of course, the type of projects will sometimes dictate the music genre…Cleaning house=Country! I can sing along!
    Creating, painting or drawing…top 40…get up and dance a little during the project! Studying, writing, reading…definately classical:) Thanks Opa!

    Give it a try? It may work for you as well…

    1. Amber Ludwig-Vilhauer

      Great tips Denise! I can’t believe I forgot it. I listen to music ALL day long. If you, or anyone out there, is someone who works on the computer … check out Pandora Radio. Just Google it. You can create your own radio station and then their software populates other music you might like. I have found SO much great music this way!! You can vote if you like a song or not (if not, it won’t play again). It rocks. Yes, way to be Denise! 🙂

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