Prolonging a Productivity Drought

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.

Prolonging a Productivity Drought

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.

Preventing a Productivity Drought from Continuing

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.

For Severe Productivity Droughts

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.

Your Methods for Bringing Productivity Back

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?

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  1. says

    There are a lot of distraction that can easily pop up. I started to write down important goals and place dates next to them in order to ensure their completion. It’s not for everything, but if it needs to get down and your feet are dragging it’s worth a shot.

    Gennaros last blog post..San Marcos La Laguna: A Peaceful Retreat

  2. says

    I have no problem with being distracted by social networking, tv or other what I do put off is writing for my blog, which I tend to put off with any excuse. I start to write new content but am never happy so usually end up scrapping it, which is probably not the best way. Going for a walk and getting fresh air I find the best way to clear my mind of distractions and getting away from the PC screen.

  3. says

    I know exactly what you mean as I’ve been in a productivity slowdown lately. I’ve been posting less frequently to my blog, and snagged by Hulu, I’ve been sucked into the Buffyverse.

    At first, I was concerned, but then I remembered that the same thing happened last year at the same time. Then, I was caught up in the Stargate world. For me, it was a way of overcoming digital burnout and stress brought on by endless responsibility. I needed a break.

    The silver lining is that it also opened up learning portals that I hadn’t previously imagined.

    Sandra Foyts last blog post..Who’s Afraid of Creativity?

  4. says

    @Pheak: There’s a fine line with working on social networking sites, and finding yourself playing on them, like I do sometimes. :)

    @Gennaro: I’m working on a sub-site for my goals list, doing the Day Zero Project. It is where you make a list of 101 things to do in 10001 days. It’s an over 2 year time span to complete everything on your list, plus you can share it with others to keep you accountable and on track.

    @Chris: This is true. With the Youtube for porn and other sites with easy access (no pun intended), that is another source for online distractions.

    @khaled: I actually have a lot of drafts in my WordPress of posts I started, got a lot of steam on, and then for whatever reason abandoned. I need to go back and develop them again.

    @Sandra: There are a lot of good informational videos on Youtube. I found a set about sleep paralysis that introduced me to new perspectives on the subject I had never heard before.

  5. says

    I always enjoy getting out and doing a little partying. Dancing it up and drinking a little seems to take my mind away from EVERYTHING and allows me to focus on what’s in front of me, a beautiful girl.

    It’s funny you mention the Chinese meditation music. My office has little water features that slowly trickle on during the day, causing some relaxation right in my office. Not to mention the zen garden with blue sand. :)

    What a well thought out post! I find social networking, albeit time consuming in many respects, to be fulfilling in the networking aspects. All good relationships take time to mature and require constant nurturing, so you can’t really get away from it completely.

    Wayne Johns last blog post..5 Tips for Commenting On Blogs

  6. says

    I struggle with this as well. My biggest problems come in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve already written several articles and have done lots of other work, but there are still several hours left of the working day and I don’t much feel like writing anymore. Often, the entire office takes a break around this time. At least I have plenty of things I can work on and some autonomy in what I choose to do.

  7. says

    I’m glad to see I am not alone in this. I don’t know why, but when I am sitting at my computer ready to work; an hour would go by and I haven’t done anything.

    A good thing is when I get the creative juices flowing, I could be there for 10 hours and it feels like 2 hours.

  8. says

    Excellent advice here. With any project, big or small, goals need to be defined and written out. It’s also the case that no one can go at full steam all the time … the brain needs a creative respite to get rejuvenated. Sometimes I’ve found that focusing on something else in the early mornings (reading something spiritual for instance) helps me get focused on everything else that needs to be done. Nice article!

    nutubas last blog post..Mothers and Fathers

  9. says

    @Wayne: I love social networking. I just have found myself in the snares of Facebook applications one too many times to know that there are parts of social networking that should be limited if any actual work is to be done.

    @Sean: Yes, that is a good thing. Especially when no one is around, it is easier to focus and get more done.

    @Christopher: Being productive does help time move faster than just being bored and passing the time with something random.

    @Nutuba: Thanks. Taking a creative respite is helpful, but you just have to be careful that a small respite doesn’t turn into a longer one. :)

  10. says

    Hi Kristi, how ironic that you included a youtube video in a post about productivity, was that intentional? hehe, consequently I spent about 10 minutes looking up Hulu (never heard of it before), and another 30 or so minutes viewing other superbowl commercials :) So I guess your petty spot on with this post!