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8 Tips to Stay Motivated When You’re Ready to Quit

8 Tips to Stay Motivated When You’re Ready to Quit

There you are, in the middle of it all, just staring off into space. Once you snap back to reality, you look down at what you’re doing. All of a sudden you need a break, to stretch or whatever—just something to get away.

You’ve become so antsy in your chair. You know you have to finish but for some reason you just can’t get your head back in the game.

So you continue to stare off into space. Hey, it was pretty entertaining the first time around.

Mom is not around anymore.

You’ve completely trailed off course. This is usually the point where your mother would intervene and get you back on course. But you’re a big kid now. Mommy isn’t around to make sure you finish your homework. You’ve got to get it all done yourself.

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But what just happened? You got over what you thought was the biggest hurdle, starting, and now you can’t finish. You lost steam mid-task. Somewhere down the line you lost the motivation to see the task to the very end. At this point, you’re probably not too interested in completing it at all. You’re pretty much ready to quit.

But you know you have to get it done eventually. And you originally carved out the time to do it now. So somehow you have to do what your mom always did, but a little differently.

You’re going to see this task through by maintaining your own motivation. Long gone are the days when someone else motivated you. You’re on your own now kid. And this is how you’ll pull it off.

1. Be happy.

Kind of odd, I know. But think about how hard it is to do something when you’re miserable! You can’t tell a miserable person anything. So if you’re unhappy you’ll have your work cut out for you when it comes to getting anything done.

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Regardless of how you feel at the moment there is a reason somewhere to be happy. Focus on that reason and the other wonderful things around you. The happier you are the more positive work you can do.

2. Expect mistakes.

By now you should know that they are a part of life. Of course you should minimize them whenever you can. But no one expects you to know every single thing at one time, so mistakes are going to happen.

And that’s perfectly fine, as long as you don’t use making a mistake as a reason to throw in the towel. Better yet, use your mistakes to your advantage.

3. Be present.

When you’re staring off into space you tend to think about everything except for what’s going on now. Worrying about the future or dwelling on the past isn’t going to help you one bit in the present. In fact, it’s taking you away from it. Regain control of your thoughts and focus on what you’re supposed to be doing now.

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4. Clock it.

When you have to complete a task that is less than thrilling, determine how long it will take and clock yourself. This will make sure that you’re making the best of your time and reduce the allowance for distractions. There’s nothing like working against a deadline to kick your butt in gear.

5. Think about the results.

You do things for a reason. You take on a task because you want to get to the end result. Remember that.

Feeling less than motivated to continue? Remind yourself what it’s all about, why you’re doing it in the first place. Then, the motivation will come.

6. Reward yourself.

Remember when your coach would take the team out for ice cream after a win? You probably spent the whole game thinking about all the toppings you wanted to put on your cone. That’s what motivated you to hit that home run. Who cares about a trophy when you can have your own personalized ice cream cone!

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You should continue to reward yourself the same way as you finish different tasks. But I wouldn’t recommend eating ice cream every single time you complete something.

7. Keep track.

When you don’t realize how much progress, you’ve made you can easily convince yourself that quitting is a fine choice. Think about how annoyed you’d be when you realized that you quit after you’ve done so much work and were almost done. Keeping track of your progress will motivate you to hit another milestone.

8. Consider the cost.

Not completing a task means giving up on something bigger. Ask yourself, if you gave up now, what would it cost you? Sometimes fear and pain are the most powerful motivators. They can compel you to begin again when nothing else works.

Look Mom!

Once you master these tips you’ll become a certified finisher. You’ll be able to get more done and be successful at whatever you take on. Nothing will get in your way. Make your mother proud!

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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