Productivity is often times an internal struggle: The Lazy You vs. The Motivated You. The Lazy You says, "It's not due today, let's wait a few more hours to get started." The Motivated You says, "The faster you get this out of the way, the faster you can move on to something even more interesting!" For serial procrastinators, your lazy side can be extremely detrimental. Procrastinating leads to high stress levels, last-minute scrambles, and sometimes, missed deadlines.
Improving your productivity is about learning how to fight back against your lazy impulses. And sometimes you'll have to pull a few tricks out of your sleeve to win. Try out these slightly strange suggestions and see if they help engage The Motivated You:
1. Talk to Yourself
Musing out loud is a perfectly acceptable activity for the mentally stable worker. It can help build your self-confidence and calm your brain, and studies have indicated that talking to yourself can improve task performance. When you need to buckle down, encourage yourself with a little pep talk.
"I start my day by asking these questions: 1) What would be the most fun to do? 2) What will make me the most money? 3) What will make me money right away? — If possible, I will start with the activity that gets all 3 taken care of first."
—Sophie Mihalko, Facilitator of Consciousness, SophieMihalko.com
Two things to remember when tricking yourself into being productive with private speech:
1. Switch up your pronouns. Address yourself in third person, or use "you" instead of "I" (e.g. "You did great today!"). Studies show it helps achieve better results.
2. Speak in positives. Negative words lead to negative mindsets — and that's not going to convince you to get more done.
2. Set Up Competitions: You vs. You
This works especially well for competitive spirits, but can also work for the non-competitive. Challenge yourself to beat a personal record at work, or get things done faster than you expect. Got a boring task ahead? Give yourself an hour and race against your own procrastination. It might just keep you on track, so you don't feel tempted to check your social media accounts mid-task.
"If I allot myself an hour to do something I'll see how fast I can get it done."
—Jazmin Truesdale, CEO, Mino Enterprises
Racing against the clock is one idea for self-competition, but that's not the only way you can compete against yourself: treat yourself to your favorite coffee drink when you finish a challenging task, or turn off your phone (nooo!) until you're done with a project. Share some of your other ideas in the comments!
3. Schedule Future Emails on Sunday... and CC Yourself
If you're someone who starts work on Sunday to get a jumpstart on your week, you might actually be undermining your motivation. Completing several little tasks makes you feel accomplished and helps encourage your sense of "Don't stop now!" By doing all that work on Sunday, you've robbed yourself of little mood boosters throughout the week.
But we're not suggesting you stop scheduling emails on Sunday — in fact, it's a pretty smart productivity trick if you can make it work for you. Instead, take this tip from Orun Bhuiyan at SEOcial: CC yourself on those emails so they show up in your inbox once they're sent. Seeing your own email will be a nice reminder of what you've already gotten done this week, and can give you that motivational nudge you need to keep up the good work.
"Every Sunday I'll schedule emails to go out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning (I CC myself so I can remember what I sent). It's amazing how watching my past-self email people invigorates my drive and motivates me to work, but it does. It's a tremendous boost when I'm having a rough day."
—Orun Bhuiyan, Co-founder & Marketing Technologist, SEOcial
4. Smile at the Mirror
"No matter what you do, always start your day at work with a smile. (I have tried it. When you frown and enter your workplace, nothing goes right.)"
—Yuimi Vashum, Outreach Manager, WiseCalvin.com
You've probably heard this one before: smiling, even when you don't want to smile, is actually beneficial for your mood. For all you naysayers who say, "But it's not real happiness! It's not the same!" True, it's not the same. But just because it is a different type of happiness doesn't mean it can't be helpful. In an interview with Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert on the psychology of happiness, he says: "Let’s be careful with terms. Nylon is real; it’s just not natural. Synthetic happiness is perfectly real; it’s just man-made."
So when you're tired, bored, or just fighting off The Lazy You, take a break to go smile at yourself in the mirror. Channel your inner 3-year-old and make funny faces at yourself. Do a little jig. Laugh at how absolutely ridiculous you feel — and if someone walks in on you in the middle of your "Thriller" reenactment, convince them to take the next two minutes and join the fun! You'll go back to work feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and a little bit closer to your new bathroom buddy.
Be Weird, Be You, Be Productive
No single productivity tip works for every person who tries it out; that's why we spend so much time talking about different options. So let us know, have you ever used any of these tips to be more productive? If these aren't your cup of tea, what productivity tips have worked well for you? Share your weirdest method in the comments!