Believe you can and you're half way there
We all have good days and bad days, but often we can’t afford to waste valuable time in a rut or going around in circles. How do we stay upbeat, motivated and productive, especially when we have more responsibility on our shoulders than company around us? Here are a few tips that we find effective...
You might work for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you need to feel alone and isolated. If there are people in your physical space then offer them a cuppa and see how they’re doing that day. They might have had a hard time yesterday, or might be feeling inspired - either way, stepping outside of your demotivated headspace and interacting will give you fresh perspective. If there are no fellow humans around, try reading a book or listening to a podcast.
Stretching your legs in the fresh air can work wonders, especially if you’ve been stuck at your laptop for hours. Especially helpful are new places to explore, and open, green spaces where noise, hustle and bustle can’t bother you. If you can take someone with you on your walk, whether just for company or to chew over that day’s problem, even better. If something’s on your mind and there’s no one to join you, try a short walk and then a focussed task or activity, so as to avoid falling into unproductive rumination.
If you’re feeling a bit down and deflated, you might be hungry, dehydrated or in a caffeine slump. It could be that simple. Consider what you’re eating and drinking, and whether you’re fueling your mind and body. Productive work takes energy, so make sure you’re eating regularly and healthily, at least most of the time! Keep a bottle of water on your desk so that you keep drinking through the day, even if you’re anchored to the laptop, and try preparing meals ahead of time so that you can easily have good food to hand.
What motivates you, gets you excited? What is it about your current situation or mindset that is making you struggle? Are you being fair to yourself, and realistic about your goals? Most importantly, what’s the point of what you’re doing? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you going about it the right way? Take a step back and examine things, asking a few simple questions to cut through the gloom. If the task you’re doing is a bit dull, or even unpleasant, remind yourself of why you need to do it - is it a necessary evil, like tax admin? Is it something that will make your business stronger, like a difficult decision or conversation?
Think about how you respond to events, good or bad, and what they do for your motivation and productivity. If you’re finding that outside pressures - online or ‘in real life’ - are dragging you down, consider whether it’s worthy of your time and energy. What is it doing for you? Is it lifting and inspiring you, keeping you grounded and realistic, or is it making you doubt yourself, overthink and worry? You can’t always control what information and messages come your way, but you can control how you respond - and this tends to dictate how we feel later. It’s also worth knowing the difference between things that you can affect and control, and things that you simply can’t.
Plan (and revisit often)
You need to see progress in order to feel productive, so do look back and see how far you’ve come. You also need to break down big tasks into manageable pieces, so that you can chip away at them and not feel overwhelmed by the mammoth task facing you. If you feel overwhelmed, consider asking for help - whether big or small, short term or permanent - and be sure to allow yourself little rewards as you do reach your goals.