Many of us have had the experience of not being able to start on a task or project, or not wanting to. We find many excuses to delay doing what we need to do. Writers call this the “writer’s block”, others call this phase being “uninspired” or “unmotivated” and those who don’t understand may just attribute it to laziness.
Whatever the reasons, here are some tips to unblock you from this unproductive phase.
Make a List and Prioritize
If you can’t start doing what you need to do for a project or deliverable, get pen and paper and list down what it is you’re supposed to do. Keep in mind to just write the bare minimal; be short and concise. Number what needs to be done first so you can focus on finishing that task first. You can fill out the details once you start working on the task; and that’s the next thing you’re supposed to do after completing your list.
Sometimes, we just need to unclutter our brains to be able to focus on what we should be doing. Writing down what you want to do and sorting out what really needs to be done first helps us refocus our attention and prevents our brain from getting distracted with unnecessary worries.
Try New Things
A tried and tested method, such as writing your To Do’s, might not work. During these times, you can try out new methods to hep you cope. For example, instead of writing down your list, maybe doodle them or get a colleague and tell them about your tasks through a story. Give yourself a time frame though so you don’t spend all your time on your new method.
Similar to writing things down, your goal is to get your brain to focus on what needs to be done and trying out a new method will also help get your creativity flowing.
Some people learn best when they have to teach others. Of course, you already know what you’re supposed to do but if you can’t focus, then ask a colleague or friend to help you out by acting as your pupil or apprentice and learning something in return.
Teach them how they are supposed to do things if they were the one who needed to do what you should be doing. They don’t need to do what you teach, they just need to listen. The purpose of this method is to help you reframe your perspective on why you should be doing what you’re not doing yet.
By teaching others, you are able to form new ideas to help you do the task at hand. It also jumpstarts your creativity as you need to find a way to convey the information in a way that will be easy to understand.
Make Work Into Play
Make a game out of your To Do’s. Every time you accomplish a task, think of the rewards or benefits. Maybe getting off work on time and getting home early enough to watch a movie online. Or getting off from work early enough to get dinner at your favourite food joint.
You can also, reward yourself with small things like a piece of your favourite chocolate for each task completed, or promise yourself a more decadent slice of chocolate cake at your favourite cafe for completing everything on your To Do list.
We all know rewards are a great motivator but be sure to not ruin your budget just to curb your procrastination.
Do Something Else
There are tough times when procrastination hits us so hard that we can’t seem to do anything about it. During those times, don’t force yourself and do something else instead. Follow the tenet “Love what you do or leave”.
Get up and make yourself a cup of coffee or go out and order yourself that coffee. Do some stretching exercises while seated on your chair; walk around the block or start working on something else that you’ve put off for a while like a side project or something a colleague asked you for help with.
Walking away from a situation, or in this case a state of mind, helps you reframe the situation and see it with clearer eyes when you get back to it. It may also inspire some new ideas on how to tackle your To Do list more efficiently and effectively.
Remember, there are no short cuts to success. The key is to do the work consistently. But you should give yourself a break when your brain or mood is not cooperating. These tips should help you get back on track.