Summer is a rough time for productivity at the office. Half your team is on vacation at any given time (seemingly with most of your vendors and clients, since it’s impossible to get in touch with anyone). Then there’s the fact that you, yourself, would prefer to be at the beach or hanging out by the pool.
Regardless, work still needs to get done – and preferably quickly, so that you can get out of the office and enjoy these longer summer days.
If you’re staring down a lengthy to-do list this morning, and coming up short on motivation, these tips can help.
1. Start Small
If you’re used to thinking of your projects as a solid mass of deadlines, requirements, and sheer brute labor, it’s no wonder you’re having trouble getting started today. Start small, and your work will seem less daunting.
This might mean splitting up one big project into smaller tasks and adding them to your to-do list as separate items. Or, it might mean getting started on some smaller aspect of the work – answering an email, say, or making a phone call – and fooling yourself into rolling into the larger commitments.
For example, when I begin a writing project, I often tell myself that I’ll just spend five minutes researching or working on an outline. By the time the five minutes are up, I’m usually in the zone and ready to work.
2. Use Fun Tasks to Procrastinate
Procrastination doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it just depends on what you do when you’re procrastinating.
If you spend those moments catching up on social media, you’re likely to waste a lot of work time (and give yourself a bad case of FOMO looking at everyone’s beach pictures). But, on the other hand, if you procrastinate on one task by working on another, more interesting task, you’ll get more done and still get the small mental break you need.
3. Work Outside (or at Least, Outside the Office)
A change of scenery can make a big difference when you’re feeling less than motivated. If your office is flexible about where employees work, take your laptop outside or to a local coffee shop and get stuff done while enjoying a mini-vacation from your desk. You might find that you’re more productive outside your usual workspace, especially if you work in an open-plan office.
4. Plan Your Breaks
One reason it’s so hard to get stuff done is that most of us have pretty packed schedules. When your Outlook calendar is jammed full of meetings and your to-list is multiple pages long, work can feel endless. It’s hard to generate much enthusiasm to get started when it seems like there’s no end in sight. No wonder so many workers eat lunch at their desks and spend their off-hours with their phones glued to their hands.
The truth is that if you want to unplug from your work – and trust me, you do – you need to make it a priority. And that means planning in breaks to eat, go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee. It also means scheduling an end to your day (and then committing to leaving your email alone until your workday begins again).
5. Plan a Vacation
Speaking of breaks: if you haven’t had a real break from work for a while, now’s the time to plan one. Taking vacation isn’t just good for your morale – it’s also a productivity-booster.
Beyond that, if you never take time off, you’ll burn out. And once you’re there, no amount of motivation tips will inspire you to get stuff done.
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How do you get motivated to work when you’d rather be relaxing on the beach? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.