Are you feeling burnt out, tired, distracted? Do you catch yourself daydreaming at work, or going through the motions?
We all have our off days (or weeks!) when even the simplest task fills us with dread or takes twice, even thrice longer to finish. Here are life tips on how to get through that slump, and do your best work with half the effort.
Life tip # 1: Work with your body clock.
We all have natural daily energy cycles called ‘circadian rhythms’ when our mind and bodies are at their peak. Observe yourself for a few days. Is your mood better in the morning? Do you get your best ideas at night? Then go with the flow and schedule your tasks when you’re at your physical and emotional best.
Life tip # 2: Don’t fight the feeling.
Name the top five things that are draining your energy and motivation levels. One could be ‘I spend the whole day running after my toddler, I have no time or energy to do anything else!’ or ‘I’ve been working on this project for 5 months, and if I have to read that report one more time I’m going to throw my computer out the window.’
The first instinct is to force ourselves to swallow a bad situation and ignore what we feel. Instead, acknowledge it. We spend so much energy secretly resenting what we have to do, that it can be liberating to just say, ‘I hate what’s happening, and it’s okay to feel this way.’
Life tip # 3: Work in your ‘happy place.’
Sometimes changing location—or changing something about your location—can make a dreaded task a little easier to bear. Think of the task you hate the most and try doing it someplace else. Write the report in a coffee shop, while listening to your favorite music. Go over your bills while sitting cross-legged on the porch, nibbling on chocolate chip cookies.
But what if you don’t know what place is most conducive to creativity and productivity?
Observe yourself, and experiment. Will it be easier to go through reports if you’re working side by side with a friend (kind of like a grown-up’s version of a study group)? Then call up a co-worker and try it out this afternoon. There’s only one way to find out, and if it doesn’t work, you’re no worse off than you are now.
Life tip # 4: Group similar tasks.
You can also consider the type of tasks you do, group them, and then find the place that’s most conducive. For example, you may find it near-impossible to think creatively in the office, where people or phone calls constantly interrupt you. If that’s the case, set a time for all your meetings and get it over and done with, and leave a block of uninterrupted ‘thinking time’ for more analytical work.
To figure out the categories/types of work you do, list all the types of errands and deadlines you usually handle: creative thinking, research, presenting/reporting, etc. Then list all the place where you can work: cubicle, home office, restaurant, office pantry, etc. try to match each category with a possible location.
Life tip # 5: Play!
Sometimes, our feeling of “laziness” is our body and our spirit’s way of telling us that we need a break. So instead of half-heartedly working all day and not getting much done, take a complete, 100% break and do whatever it is you really want to do. We’re willing to bet that you’ll double your productivity after you’ve indulged in your real and normal need to rest and play. (Don’t feel guilty about it, either — read our article on Jesus and Time and Stress management, and you’ll know even God needed a break!)
Life tip # 6: Do less, but accomplish more.
You know you’re running low on time and energy, so don’t spread yourself thin. Focus on what really matters and delegate the rest — it’s far more productive than forcing yourself to do everything in a half-baked way. Try these tips from the 80/20 rule.
Photo from lfgss.com