Procrastination is the devil in the back of our minds. It sucks. It plays on our emotions and weaknesses and blinds you to the future so you only take joy in immediate rewards, even though you didn’t earn them.
I’ve shown you how to permanently remove procrastination loops from your life and improve it for the better. But at times, there are days when no matter how hard you try, you just feel so unmotivated, lazy, and sluggish. Maybe it’s a scorching hot summer day in the city or rainy Sunday afternoon. Maybe you’re just exhausted from heavy workload, have a bad headache, or just feel sleepy for no apparent reason.
It happens to the best of us. It’d be great if I could boast about a 100% productivity all the time but sometimes, regardless of the efforts I put in, I simply cannot get focused on big things. On those days, even if I take on a task I need to get out of the way, I produce low quality work, can’t focus, and keep losing motivation.
Those times don’t come around often (if they do, that’s a warning that something’s wrong), but despite not being able to focus on vital tasks, I refuse to let any day go to waste.
FOCUS ON THE SMALL STUFF
This is a simple and fairly logical approach to this problem – if you’re unable to direct your attention to more important elements of your workload, take care of things you usually neglect.
They may not be as important, but you still need to take care of them, and instead of forcing yourself to go big in a sluggish mode, take care of the little things.
For example, instead of writing a 2000 word article, focus on something simpler. Here are a few examples of what I consider by “small tasks”:
- Organize YouTube playlists
- Organize Evernote notes and notebooks
- Clean your desktop, delete unnecessary files, and simplify your filing system
- Find dozen motivational wallpapers to rotate in the background
- Delete programs, apps, and contacts you don’t need
- Search your apartment for things you have no need for anymore to sell them
These tasks may not be as rewarding, but you still do something you needed to do eventually. Also, it makes you feel productive again and, with enough luck, you can use the “small tasks” approach to increase your motivation and move on to bigger and more important tasks.
Alright, so you’ve done one or a few of these smaller tasks and feel much better about yourself. Even if you don’t do anything else for the rest of the day, it wasn’t as bad as simply laying around, binge watching shows, and eating chips.
But with enough dedication, you can use the momentum and rewarding feeling you got from completing minor tasks in order to take on a bigger chore, this time with a different mindset.
You may or may not be able to do this though; sometimes, despite your best efforts, everything you touch will turn to shit. But there are only a handful of those days a year, and you should do everything in your power to reduce their number to basically zero.
In addition to the “small tasks momentum”, here are other things you can also do in order to have high hopes of jump-starting your motivation on an off-day (yes, it’s possible to suddenly change your motivation and blast away).
Cold-shower is one of the most effective, instant confidence boosters, and I wrote here about why it has such a powerful effect on motivation and mindset strength. Problem is, when you’re feeling lazy and eager to procrastinate, you won’t really be inclined to expose yourself to such demeanor. But if you manage to overcome that fear of discomfort, you’ll almost be guaranteed a trip down the motivation hole.
Meditation is a tricky play; on one hand, it can allow you to clear your mind and reset your thoughts in order to focus on solving problems or doing creative work. However, if you’re feeling sleepy, meditation can easily amplify the experience, so instead of becoming alert, you’ll simply roll over and hit the sheets. Your best bet is to take a shot at a short, 5-minute session – if you become sleepy, stop it and focus on something else. Otherwise, you can prolong the session and take in the reward.
Sleep as a suggestion might seems contradictory to the previous paragraph, but once again, it all depends on the situation. If you haven’t had much sleep last night, it might be best to say fuck it, knock out an hour or two, and then hit the ground running. Even better, try taking a 30-minute power nap, as it will leave you more invigorated and less inclined to keep sleeping.
Energy blast refers to activity which wakes you up and sends surges of energy through your entire body. This can be done in a lot of ways; most people primarily reach for supplements and beverages like coffee or energy drinks, though I highly dislike this approach. Best case scenario, you get an energy blast for an hour or two, then feel more tired than before.
Better roads to riches would be blasting your favorite song, especially those with hard beats, dancing to it, jumping around, shaking your arms and legs, and simply letting go. This may sound ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how well it works. Alternatively, you can go for a run, work out, or simply get some air and go for a walk if the weather’s nice.
Battling procrastination is not a science, but an art – it doesn’t matter how you approach the problem, as long as you’re able to overcome it. You can use all or none of the methods I’ve just listed. They work for me, and I’m sure they will work for you if you give them a shot.
Now get your ass back to work.