Motivating yourself to work can sometimes be challenging.
Sitting down and doing the hardest and most significant thing first isn’t always easy.
It’s one thing to set rules for working, but it’s quite another to stick to them!
With so much to do, how can you make sure that you stay on course and to get it done?
Especially when it’s so easy to grab your phone and hop on social media telling yourself it will only be for 5 minutes.
But then you realize an hour has passed. Been there.
This is where you need some productivity hacks!
Setting Yourself Rewards
Coming to our rescue is a tip from the book “How to Save an Hour A Day” by Michael Heppell.
He says that you should set smaller goals within a project, and then reward yourself for completing them.
So, for instance, if you usually start your day by browsing through emails, and having a “quick” look at Facebook and Instagram, that needs to change.
Because now It’s about half nine, and so far you’ve achieved nothing!
That’s a deflating way to start your day.
So instead: sit down, eat the frog, and set out to write that massive project, or to complete the big data entry task.
Then set a target for the first chunk of work to get done.
Then get it done—just that small chunk.
Here’s an example.
Maybe you want to create videos to post on social media. You have so many ideas on videos that you want to create.
The first step would be to write out all the steps involved in the process, from outlining your videos to posting and sharing them.
The first small step could be outlining all the videos you’re going to create.
The second step could be to record in a row 5 videos. And you could keep going on and on.
Each step towards that big main goal is a small action step that will get you closer to it.
After each chunk is complete, take a quick break. Stretch or get a cup of coffee. But you want to step away from what you’re doing.
And then, when you complete another chunk of work that you set as a goal, you can go and answer those emails.
NOW by 9:30, you have already completed a massive chunk of your work, and you’ll feel far better about yourself as a result.
What’s more, is that you’ll often push yourself even further.
Give yourself a reward. It can be anything you want that will make you feel happy.
A latte, a piece of chocolate, or even watching an episode on Netflix.
Leaving Work Unfinished
Another way you can encourage yourself to dive straight into your biggest task is to leave a project incomplete the day before.
Now, this might sound quite counterintuitive! Most of us assume we should try to polish everything off when we finish for the day.
But, when you know that you’ve got 3,000 words to write tomorrow, you should try to write 400 words of it before you finish your day.
So you’re not leaving work incomplete that you were meant to complete today – you’re not completing less work.
All you’re doing is making a start on tomorrow’s project.
Firstly, that means you don’t have to start a project fresh first thing in the morning.
Looking at a blank screen is the most challenging part of completing any task for many people!
At the same time, this now means that you will have an emotional urge to complete that task.
Our brains hate leaving work unfinished!
And so the fact that there is an open, unfinished task, just sitting there on your desktop, means that you’re far more likely just to finish it.
Especially when it’s one of your small action goals that will move the needle a little more if it’s finished.
Overcoming Writers’ Block
But what if you don’t have this luxury? What if you didn’t get a chance to start the work the day before?
Staring at a blank screen is hard work for anyone. Writers’ block is NOT something that only affects writers!
The other big piece of advice I can give you is this: just start writing. Just start recording. Just start even if the quality of the work appears to be dull.
Even if you are feeling slow and sluggish and you aren’t sure if what you are producing is any good.
Just get working!
What this will do is help you to get into the flow.
Now you can always go back and check that what you wrote was okay. But to get into that “flow state,” to get productive, you just need to push past that initial resistance.
And again, this is good training. It forms good habits, and it will help you to get unstuck in the future.
Prepping Your Work
Something else you can do is to focus on how you are going to spend your time between work by prepping.
When you’re making cups of tea, when you’re stuck in traffic, and when you’re waiting in line, you can still actually be “working” in your head.
Now you must allow yourself proper downtime.
Resting and enjoying yourself will make you MUCH more productive.
So the aim is not to do this throughout your weekend or evenings unless you like to work at night.
BUT if you have a lot to finish and you have the opportunity… why not think about the project?
You can write in your head. You can write that video script in your head.
And NOW when you sit down at the computer to do some work, you will find that it flows MUCH easier and you get more work done.
Likewise, you spend your time listening to videos about things you need to know about your project.
If you’re a blogger, for instance, why not listen to videos on that subject and get ideas for how you’re going to write your post?
This works well if you happen to love what you do. If you enjoy the work you’re doing, then it really won’t feel all that much like work anyway!
It’s also similar to another concept describes by Tim Ferriss: prep and pick up.
Prep and pick up describes how you can set the conditions for productivity before the point where you need to do the work.
Then simply execute on your plan when the time comes.
The example that Ferriss gives on his blog is when creating a Kickstarter campaign.
Rather than launching your campaign and then spending the next several days writing emails, making calls, and chasing leads, instead, you would write all the emails you need and all the marketing materials in the days leading up to the launch.
Then you can put those emails and marketing messages on some kind of auto-scheduler and let the campaign market itself once it’s live!
The reason this works so well is it means that you can’t possibly fail to complete the work you need to finish.
Nothing can “crop up” and get in the way because all the leg work is already done.
And any work you do need to do is that much easier.
This is what you’re doing when you work from home.
You’re going to spend the time between work and in the days leading up to big projects getting together all the resources you need and thinking about precisely what you need to do.
Then you can be optimally productive when the time comes.
One more concept to discuss from the book “Deep Work” that is relevant to this is the notion of “Productive Meditation.”
This is a form of meditation where you “meditate” on a particular project or problem.
It’s perfect while going for walks, when doing zombie tasks, or while otherwise conducting menial tasks.
And it has the added bonus of being very good for your brain!
Finally, the most important thing you need to recreate if you want to be productive while working from home is accountability.
At home, you might find yourself browsing Facebook for too long or wandering off to raid the fridge.
Why does this happen at home and not in an office?
When you’re working out of an office, co-working space, or a cafe, it’s easier for you to get right into work.
When you’re at home, it’s easy to think you can throw a load of laundry in real quick before you start working.
One way to reintroduce accountability is to use apps, websites, or even hire a coach that will help you hit those goals and hold you accountable.
Many people will ask their partners to check in on how much work they’ve done, and to then “punish” them in some way if they fail to complete the work!
I don’t believe this is particularly feasible in the long term, nor particularly healthy!
Find some form of accountability that will continually help you focus and help you move the needle forward.
Sometimes that’s all you need, and you’ll be surprised at how much you get done in such little time.
Now that you’ve learned a few ways to build motivation and get in the zone…start.
Use one or all of these techniques to work on that big project to get it done.