What is your advice for keeping yourself motivated and productive throughout the day? Do you have any tips for getting over the 2pm slump?
OOF. I. Feel. You. Staying productive is one of the biggest challenges I face, and one of the things I beat myself up about the most. I permanently feel like I could be doing more, and I'm constantly swimming in a pool of "shoulds," which on certain days feels more like drowning. Here are some of the things that help me (along with coffee and klonopin...)
Lists & Charts: Anyone who knows me will attest I'm obsessed with making lists. I have them for EVERYTHING. It's incredibly helpful for me to stay on track when I can look at exactly what I need to do or want to accomplish. I will often add things I've already completed just for the satisfaction of crossing it off and the reminder that I've already made something happen. Another thing I do is treat myself to cute stationary or notepads to make it more exciting.
For bigger goals or changing habits/staying on track, I am a convert of resolution charts. I make a big grid with dates across the top, goals down the side and tiny boxes for each that I check off at the end of the day. The acts range from small (flossing or drinking 8 cups of water), to bigger goals like writing, getting 10K steps in, committing acts of kindness. Something about the act of checking the boxes - or inversely, the blank unfulfilled boxes staring at me - is HIGHLY motivating.
The Pomodoro Technique: Fun Fact - along with being a naturally hyper and scatterbrained person, I'm clinically diagnosed with ADD and have taken meds on and off for years. This combined with a little thing called the internet make staying on task feel physically impossible some days. Enter the Pomodoro Technique - a time management method that involves breaking down work or tasks into timed intervals separated by short breaks. You can read all about it HERE, but the long and short is this:
- Pick a task or project
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
- Work on that task UNINTERRUPTED until the timer goes off, and put a check mark on a sheet of paper
- Take a short break (5 minutes usually) and let yourself do whatever you want,
- Return to the task for another 25 minutes
- Every 4 check mark earns you a longer break, like 20 min
I discovered this when I was working in an office setting for the first time 3 years ago and really struggling with traditional work hours. This helped me a ton and I still use it at work AND at home (it greatly helps with my writing and chores.) I often will include rewards into my long breaks too, like a glass of wine if I'm writing, or a saved internet article or chilled LaCroix if I'm at work.
Clearing Mind Clutter: Something that's been a GAME CHANGER for me recently is morning journaling. Almost every morning I write 3 pages totally stream-of-conscious before I leave for work. It helps me empty all my thoughts and anxieties out right off the bat, and stimulates my mind for the coming day. I never re-read them, I just let my mind go wherever. It is helpful for kicking out the inner critic and opens up my mind and confidence levels. Doing this increases my focus for the day and helps me think more clearly and outside the box. I've even taken to doing it during the work day sometimes when I feel stuck on a project or overwhelmed.
Random: Here's a handful of other things that usually help me shift into gear - listening to music, motivational quotes (love this account!), getting outside and taking a walk, working to podcasts - my current faves are Keep It, 99% Invisible, and the Girlboss Radio interviews (I don't love the host, I like the guests and convos & it's good in the background), banning myself from checking Instagram for allotted time periods, and having a couple projects to bounce back and forth between so I don't get too burnt out.
I hope this is helpful! Productivity is stressful and different for everyone, but always remember to be patient with yourself and to focus on progress, not perfection, and that micro-habits lead to macro-results. And when in doubt - caffeinate, dance around the room, or stress eat.