It’s mid-February. The excitement of the holidays has waned, New Year resolutions are a guilt-inducing memory, and the weather outside is gray and cold. It’s no shock that people consistently identify February as one of their least favorite months of the year.
The winter doldrums often extend to the workplace: sometimes, you just don’t feel like doing anything. I find myself lagging when I have work to do but no pressing deadlines. It’s hard to get motivated to get stuff done without a sense of urgency, but it’s also not that fun having projects hanging over my head.
My solution is twofold:
- I block out time in my calendar for each task I need to get done.
- I make up smaller, internal deadlines.
Let’s say I have to research and draft a section of a report to a client.
First, I take a look at my calendar for the day and block out the time I think I need to research and write it. For this project, I will assign myself 4 hours in total.
Second, I break out the project into smaller steps. I give myself 2 hours to research, 30 minutes to outline my points, 1.25 hours to write it, and 15 minutes to proof it.
As the afternoon ticks by, my calendar notifications remind me where I should be in the process. As I complete each step, I also like to cross that item off my to do list, giving me an additional (if minor) sense of accomplishment which in turn motivates me to continue.
What do you do if following these steps isn’t enough – if you’re still struggling to get anything done?
As a last ditch effort, I set a timer on my phone for fifteen minutes and just start writing the report. No research, no plan, just pure stream of consciousness. At the end of the fifteen minutes, what I’ve written is probably not great, in fact, it’s often pretty bad! But at least I’ve gotten something on the page, and after fifteen minutes of constant work, I usually find that I can drum up enough motivation to keep at it for a while longer.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Bottom Photo: TheCareerFiles