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#MondayMotivation: 5 Ways to Fool Yourself Into Getting Stuff Done

Topics: Career Advice

Maybe you hop out of bed on Monday mornings with a song in your heart and a to-do list already coalescing in your brain. If so, don’t be hurt if your co-workers avoid you until they’ve had their second cup of coffee. For many of us, the transition back into the work week is rough, to say the least. Whether the weekend was full of chores or fun, switching back to office mode is a challenge. Sometimes, the only answer is to play little tricks on ourselves, in order to make work happen.

swimming in coffee

(Photo Credit: Jangra Works/Flickr)

If you’re on Team Snooze Button, here’s how to get stuff done anyway:

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1. Put tiny, nothing tasks back on the to-do list…

What do you do all day? When you answer this question, you probably only hit on the big stuff – deadlines met, meetings attended, goals achieved. But most of our days are made up of the little stuff – returning messages, checking in with teammates about projects, organizing files so that we can find things later, and so on.

To make yourself feel better and build a sense of accomplishment that fuels the important achievements, put those little piddly things back on your list, at least for today. Write down that you’re going to answer that networking email, and then do it. Clean up your desk, and then give yourself credit for it.

2. …including the tasks you’ve already crossed off.

OK, it’s cheating, but sometimes you just need to see those crossed-off items. If you’ve having trouble motivating today, go ahead and include the calls you’ve already returned and the report you’ve already proofed.

3. Procrastinate for the common good.

Productivity experts will tell you that it’s a good idea to do the most important, least appealing tasks on your to-do list first, and they’re right – most of the time. Some days, however, you’re lucky just to get anything done at all. On those days, feel free to use the looming threat of those tasks to inspire you to tackle the less daunting items on your list.

“You only want to work on the stuff you’re not supposed to be working on,” Dave Eggers said some years ago, in an interview with Salon, in which he explained how procrastination actually helps him produce. “That’s how it always is. I’ll always be working on five things at once, usually with those documents open at the same time because if I get stuck somewhere I’ll jump over to something else.”

It’s a matter of choosing the right “time-wasters.” Instead of noodling around on social media, pick a task that seems sort of fun – or at least, not as tough as some of the others.

4. Just do five minutes.

It’s hard to dig in if you think you’re going to be heads-down in work for hours. So just do five minutes. Maybe you’ll really pop back up from your chair when the time is up, or maybe you’ll find something that engages your attention for a while, if not for the rest of the day. Either way, you’ll have five more minutes of work done than you did five minutes ago.

5. Bribe yourself.

The best part of being an adult is that you can do what you want, provided you get a few responsibilities out of the way. So let yourself have a cup of coffee in the afternoon or ice cream for lunch if it inspires you to push through your workday until then. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, and if you get cross some tasks off your list, you’ll definitely deserve it.

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How do make yourself get work done when you’d frankly rather be in bed? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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We are in bad shape if this is good advice.
The generation of game olaying, couch sittin, unmotivated slugs is in for a sad midlife and retirement

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