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5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW

5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW

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.

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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.

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(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:

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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.

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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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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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