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5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW

5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW
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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 Ay Mires specializes in writing copy for self-improvement niches. He helps businesses sell their products with content and copywriting, so they can reach more people and improve their business.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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