It’s not always easy to just get to work. There are life hacks, one-step magic tricks, tools, and a thousand products promising that if you just buy this one thing, you will suddenly magically have all the ambition and energy you need to go out and take over the world!
Sadly, most of us find that it’s not quite that simple. We listened to Nike and Shia LaBeouf, we tried everything we can think of, and we’re still at square one. It’s easy to want to just throw up our hands and say “you know what, I tried, but this is just how I am.” I’ve been there, and I’ve done it, but how many of you have grown through just giving up? What do you gain from it?
My guess is, probably not much. Growth doesn’t come through sitting and waiting for opportunity to smack us across the face, growth comes through pushing yourself through even the most depressing, rejecting, exhausting situations, and keeping yourself moving until you reach the light on the other side. So, what can you do to actually keep moving through the sludge? Give these tactics a try! Each one targets a different background reason for procrastinating, so whenever I struggle, I work my way down the list until I’m up and running again!
- Start small — things at rest tend to stay at rest, and things in motion tend to stay in motion; if you get yourself moving, even if it’s just a little bit, it makes you feel more capable and productive, making you more likely to continue.
- Get some exercise — when we don’t move our bodies around enough, it can mess with our heads. Exercise is good for all kinds of cognitive function, from memory to creativity, so moving around will help when you sit back down! Whether you do a few jumping jacks, lift some weights, or just walk around wherever you are, it will do you a lot of good in the short term and long term.
- Schedule breaks for other things — “I’ll start my paper, just as soon as I reply to this last…” and then the whole day was gone. If you feel like once you start that’s your only option, you’re likely to end up filling your day with little things that don’t amount to much instead of making headway. Try giving yourself a short break every now and then, so you know that you’ll have time to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or check in with your friends. I try to use the 45/15 rule: 45 minutes of work, followed by a 15 minute break.
- Set up milestones and rewards — when faced with a major task, you pour in hours of work without seeming to make much progress proportionally, which makes you feel like it’s a waste of time. To combat this, try setting up milestones with little rewards for each, such as when you’ve written 2 pages of that 10 page paper, you get a dessert break, or when you’ve finished the bibliography, you get to watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. It’s all about reminding yourself the value of your work, even if you haven’t completely checked all the boxes yet.