Coworking Tips: How To Break Out of Productivity Slumps

Freelancers and solo-entrepreneurs know, breaking out of a productivity slump is HARD!

Photo credit: Nadya Smolskaya. Available at: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/hopeeLike many other independent entrepreneurs or freelancers, I run into one of those days (or weeks) where I just can’t seem to get myself motivated. And when I say I become unmotivated, I mean REALLY unmotivated, like total deadsville; I’ll even resort to organizing bookshelves to avoid the real work.

So, how does this make *you* feel? Maybe it feels like there’s such a mountain of work ahead (life tasks included!) and that you don’t know where to start.

Perhaps your current projects aren’t very exciting. Or, maybe you’re feeling a tad burnt out. Or maybe you’ve got something troublesome happening in your personal life.

Whatever your reason is, here are a few helpful tips to kickstart yourself back to productivity.

Where was I? Oh, yes… here’s how to stay motivated when working in a solo business has got you caught in quicksand.

Simple tasks are best

Whether it’s taking a walk, answering a single email, or organizing your desk — tear yourself away from The Oatmeal, Facebook, or Netflix and get one little thing done.

Once you’re away from the distractions, it’s way easier to transition into the next task.

Create a specific to-do list

Clearly, when lifting a finger to even make a task list sounds worse than running 10K, just follow these guidelines to motivate yourself but not overwhelm:

1. Be ultra-specific. That means list just the first action for each task.
2. Be realistic. This is not an exhaustive list of everything you still need to do. This is a list to get you moving immediately.

Force progress in short time increments

Set a timer for 30, or even 15 minutes and require yourself to work until the timer goes off. 

Remember, that means no Facebook. No bathroom break. No snack food.

Just work.

When the timer goes off, allow yourself a 15-20 minute break.

Rinse. Repeat.

You could check out the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management tool developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

Do anything you have the motivation to do

When you are absolutely stuck in ‘lazy mode’, forcing progress sometimes just doesn’t work. No matter how much you bang your head against a project, you just can’t get into it.

On these days, there’s no sense in wasting time. Your brain is telling you it’s tired and needs a break.

So if you all you want to do is play video games (or eat cookies, or read, or bang pencils on your imaginary desk drum kit, or [insert awesome activity here]), then do it. When you’ve finally recharged your brain’s battery, you’ll be refreshed, motivated and ready to get back to work.

This one’s important — get some exercise

I know, I know. The very last thing you want to do when you’re unmotivated is break a sweat.

But it WILL help.

Physical exertion causes a whole slew of chemical reactions in your body that, if nothing else, feeds your brain a different concoction of hormones — and stimulating, attitude-lifting ones.

Studies have proven that regular exercise releases brain chemicals that improve memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.

So, how do you get motivated on your unmotivated days? Please share!