I’ve been a student my entire life. I’ve also been working from home for more than a year now. Throughout this pandemic, my motivation and productivity have definitely taken a hit.
But, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to pull myself out of my slump and burnout. What are they? Read this blog post to find out!
1. Use a timer
I’ve probably talked about this multiple times in various blog posts or on Instagram. Still, I think it’s important to talk about it here. If you work better under pressure, a timer is a great way to help you focus on increase productivity!
When I’m feeling burnt out, I don’t feel like doing anything. But, if I have an important deadline to hit, I need to do it. For some reason, when I know I have an hour to do something, I’m less likely to become distracted. I love using an app called Flora instead of the timer on my phone.
It’s similar to Forest, where you plant a tree at the end of the “focus time” that you set. If you leave the app, the tree dies, which prevents you from looking at your phone. So, I like it better than the timer app because I get to plant some trees, and I’m less likely to browse social media.
I actually did this a lot during online classes because my phone was next to me. A warning though! If test-taking situations stress you out, I wouldn’t recommend this method.
2. Make a to-do list
If you know me at all, then you know I love to-do lists. I even have different to-do list notepads that help me prioritize tasks! But, you don’t need anything fancy for this tip to work. All you need is a paper and pen or the notes app on your phone.
When I’m super stressed out, my brain goes crazy with everything that needs to get done. To help with that, I simply list out all the tasks I need to do. Sometimes, I’ll go even further and re-organize them based on priority.
Depending on the task, I’ll note it in my bullet journal (a planner) and set it aside to focus on the immediate ones that need to be completed. Checking off things on a list gives me a sense of accomplishment, and I get more things done this way!
3. Do smaller tasks first
In a similar vein, I recommend doing a small task first when you’re unmotivated. It’s less daunting, and you feel accomplished faster.
This sense of accomplishment usually motivates me to move on to the next task without thinking about how hard it would be or how much time it would take.
Combine this with my love of checking things off, and it’s the perfect way to trick my brain into completing tasks that need to get done!
4. Set internal deadlines
When I have an important assignment due or a big project to complete (like launching a new product), I tend to break those tasks into smaller tasks and set a deadline for the “sub-tasks.”
I also leave some room before the actual deadline in case a task takes longer to complete than I anticipated, something came up, or I procrastinated. It’s better to plan for these things in advance than scramble at the last minute!
But, back to the internal deadlines. Here is an example of how I set internal deadlines for my Mini Kaleidoscope of Colours bookmarks!
Launch date: July 17
- Things to get done for launch:
- Make bookmarks (by July 10)
- Take product photos (by July 11)
- Tease product launch on Instagram and Facebook (during creation process & on July 12)
- Make a listing on my website (by July 16)
- Make launch day reel (by July 16)
5. Ask friends to keep you accountable
If you struggle with maintaining internal deadlines, this one's for you! It’s so easy to let deadlines pass by, especially when you set them for yourself and there aren’t any consequences for missing them.
When I’m really struggling, I ask a friend or my roommate to check in on me periodically about my task. When I know someone else expects something to be done, I’m more inclined to finish it on time. I use this A LOT while I was self-studying for the LSAT last summer.
6. Reward yourself
I get it. Checking off something on a to-do list doesn’t have the same effect on everyone. I mean, lists aren’t enough motivation for me sometimes too! When times are tough, but I need to finish something (like writing this blog post), I give myself a reward after the task is complete.
I use it as motivation to get things done! They don’t have to be very big or expensive rewards either. Some rewards I use treats/desserts (although, if you struggle with food issues, I don’t recommend this at all), watching an episode of TV or YouTube videos, playing a game for 30 minutes on my iPad, and chilling on my hammock.
What are some of yours?
7. Take a break
This sounds counter-intuitive, but I promise it works! Sometimes, you feel exhausted because your body is telling you that it needs rest. And I don’t just mean sleep!
Do an activity that recharges you mentally and emotionally helps too. For me, that includes going on a walk, reading a book and exploring something new. This gives your body and brain a chance to reset. I promise when you come back to work, you’ll feel much more productive!
As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to increasing productivity! I always switch between or combine these 7 methods because some days, I need more help to fight burnout than others.
Some days, you don’t have a choice about deadlines. But, remember to listen to your body! Usually, burnout or lack of motivation is a symptom of a more significant issue that needs to be addressed.