There are times when, no matter how many goals we have setup for ourselves, and no matter how much we have achieved so far, we lose some steam and become demotivated. We lose the urge to finish set goals, or to create new goals once the prior ones are finished. And along with the lack of motivation comes the lack of productivity.
During these productivity droughts, we find ourselves bored, and sometimes we fill in the void that was originally blocked out to work on our projects with time wasting activities. It starts out as just a way to let the mind take a little breather, hoping that after a break, the brain will be productive again. But if we are not careful, we may find ourselves inadvertently prolonging our period of productivity for hours, for days, and even longer.
So how do we unintentionally delay our return to our productive selves? It can happen in a number of ways, such as…
Social networking distractions – while social networking can be very productive and worthwhile, it can become just the opposite when you find yourself browsing 70 pages of bumper stickers, playing endless rounds of blackjack or poker with your online friends, and hitting the random Stumble button a few too many time.
Watching tv – what starts out as a short break with a half hour sitcom could turn into several hours of mindless channel surfing, which could lead to the discovery of new shows that “must” be watched every time they are on, whether daily or weekly.
Online videos and tv – while you may be able to resist being a couch potato, you could still find yourself watching one Youtube video after the next, or Late Night anytime, right at your desk. Keep in mind what Hulu says about watching online tv. Granted, it is supposed to be a joke, but the mushy brain theory does seem a bit probable.
So what are some of the ways we can prevent ourselves from extending a non-productive streak? If you are absolutely set on playing online games or watching online videos, be sure to set a time limit with some type of alarm, so the time doesn’t pass without your knowledge. But instead of engaging in activities that consume our mental energy, we should do things that give the mind time to relax, and also keep it open. Open to signal us when it is ready to be productive again. Things such as…
Taking a quiet walk in the park – nature and fresh air typically helps the mind relax and rejuvenate.
Listening to meditation music without words – my preference recently has been Chinese meditation music, which is light with the sounds of water rushing in the background.
Moving to a location with less distractions – especially if you work in an environment where there is a lot of chatter that takes your mind elsewhere. Taking your laptop or idea notebook into an empty office or outside could help you gain more focus.
Probably the most important thing to do in a severe productivity drought, the kind that has lasted for weeks, or even months, is to take another look at your goals. If you have never put your goals into writing, now would be the time to do so. If you have, take a look at your most recent or complete list, and figure out what is holding you back with each one. If you are past your due date, then create a new, reasonable one to work towards. Then write the rest of the obstacles down, and start working on a solution to getting past them.
So what about you? What are some of the things that you find yourself doing that prolong your productivity drought? In what ways do you limit those activities? What are some other motivation rejuvenating activities?