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5 Tips for Staying Productive When It’s Hardest

There are a zillion things that can distract us throughout our workday. 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 it 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 passed, 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.

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 are when you are thinking about what’s on TV tonight, or how you’re ever going to hit a deadline for your site and dwelling on it instead of chipping 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!

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