Does this seem familiar?

“You get to your desk and prepare to work. You look around to make sure all your gear is there; pen, paper, desktop… All good. You check the clock, and it’s just about time to start. And then just as you get to it, your mind kicks into over drive.”

  • This is going to suck.
  • I know this’ll be boring.
  • I don’t feel like doing this.
  • Do I REALLY have to go through with this?

Recognize these thoughts? Of course you do, we all do. It’s what we think when we don’t feel like doing something.

You see, whenever we sit down to work, there’s always a chance that we’ll ruin our productivity before we’ve done a single thing, and it’s because it only takes a single thought of doing work to set off a chain reaction of procrastination inducing thoughts.

Is there no way to prevent this? Are we always at the whim of a single thought ruining our productivity?

No, there is something you can do about it, and all it takes is a couple of smart tips.

You just don’t “feel” like working

It’s true, and you’re not alone. Even if you love your work, sometimes you’re going to sit down and realize that you just don’t feel like doing it. It’s a common problem, which makes it all the more important that you figure out how to fix it.

You rely on willpower to do all your work

Willpower certainly has it’s place when it comes to being productive, but not as the sole force behind getting to work. Relying on it guarantees you’ll burnout long before the day has ended.

5 tips for getting to work

If you want to know how to get to work without draining every ounce of willpower you have, you’re going to need to know how to leverage the willpower you have.

And you can do that by using your willpower on these tips instead.

1. Make a work-time ritual

The most important part of being able to work when you need to, is making it a habit.

When work is habitual, the transition into it is more seamless. There’s much less chance of thoughts like “I don’t feel like it” to make you procrastinate, and it’s because habits are something we compulsively do.

(Even when it comes to working).

The ritual is all about what comes before the actual work, and is very personal. Here’s some things you can do to ritualize your work process:

  • Light a candle
  • Turn on some music (or whatever you use as background noise).
  • Have a piece of candy
  • Organize your work space
  • Prepare a cup of tea/coffee

These actions can serve as cues that prepare the brain for the work that follows. Once you do it enough times, you won’t even realize that you’ve sat down and started working.

2. Create a to-do list beforehand

The reason a to-do list is helpful is because you prevent ambiguity from ruining your work session. If you don’t know what work you have to do, then eventually you’ll drift into semi important tasks because you have no direction.

A to-do list take the guesswork out of doing your work, meaning you expend less mental energy deciding what to do and more on actually working.

Here’s a basic template to get you started:

1x3x5 method – Pick one important task, three medium important tasks, and 5 random tasks to accomplish each day. Do them in order of importance, and that’s all there is to it.

3. Work on the tiniest/easiest task

Often times we feel overwhelmed by the amount of work we need to do. When this happens, we back away from the work because we feel a lot of pressure to complete it.

To combat this, don’t look at your work as a whole. Instead, focus on the smallest, easiest thing you can do, and imagine it’s all you have to do. If you do that, you’ll have a significantly easier time engaging with it and prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed.

4. Work for 2 minutes only

Another simple hack is to say to yourself “I only need to work for two minutes, then I can stop if I want.” This lowers the expectation of long, tedious work to follow and makes work engagement easier.

You’ll find that by simply starting to work, you’re able to push past two minutes and – more often than not – work to your designated break time.

If two minutes still seems too long, feel free to lower it. The key is to start working, once that occurs you’ll naturally want to continue.

5. Use gamification apps

Sometimes using an app or tool can bring some freshness to the work process, and motivate you to work just so you can use the app.

With gamification, tasks feel more like game and can even be fun. Here are some good ones to try out:

  1. HabitRPG
  2. TaskHammer
  3. EpicWin

If you’re a video game lover, then this is perfect for you to try out.

Do you have any tips that get you in the mood to work? Leave your answer below because I’d love to hear it :)

Featured photo credit: BK via secure.flickr.com

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