We’ve all been in a slump, or procrastinated. Some of us for longer than others. Here’s 9 tips to try and get your ass in gear.
1. Set, and stick, to a schedule. When I was at my least motivated, I literally wrote down: “7-7:30 Breakfast.” There’s something wildly gratifying about crossing something off your to-do list, and sometimes even the little accomplishments can help build you back up.
2. Play. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t have bills or societal pressures to get married and have a mortgage? When you could just ride your bike on the cul-de-sac, climb trees and swing and play freeze-tag? Your creativity is still there. You just have to work a little to pull it back out. If you’re a writer, do a stream-of-conscious exercise or use a writing prompt. If you’re an illustrator, start doodling. Guitar player? Strum a few chords and don’t worry about creating something. It’s more about the process not the product.
3. Get outside. I get in my head so damn much that I can literally spend entire daylight hours sitting on a couch or bed or chair just thinking. And then I’m like, damn. That didn’t get me anywhere. Getting outside to get fresh air, blood pumping, and all those senses going can help pull you out of a slump. If you don’t live near a trail or park, hit the gym and get those endorphins going.
4. Change the setting. Some people love their rituals and only write at their desk in their lucky underpants. But if you’re stuck in a rut, try heading to a local cafe. Maybe the ambient noise will help you focus. Maybe you’ll learn you need earbuds or music or absolute stillness to get stuff done. Or you’ll feel judged for trolling Facebook instead of getting legitimate work done and that’ll be enough motivation to keep you on track. Either way, it can’t hurt to try and then you’ll know your non-negotiables for your next work session.
5. Use a timer. You’ve seen the memes about having so much shit to do, but instead the person/animal/ celeb is under the covers. Having a lot of shit to do it intimidating, but I swear it makes it much more manageable if you say, “Okay, I’m only going to sit my butt down in this chair for 30 minutes.” That’s a focused full thirty (or maybe even start with twenty)— no internet tabs, no bathroom breaks, no daydreaming— to start on your task.
6. Turn off the wifi. Maybe one of the hardest things to ask of people these days, but seriously, the world won’t stop turning if you don’t check your high school friend’s FB or double tap a photo on Instagram. Just sign out of all your accounts and turn it off.
7. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself— did I do this yesterday? Can I really get this done by tomorrow? Do I work best under pressure? Why do I feel the need to put this off? What am I scared of?
8. Ask for help. Sometimes it helps to reach out to people no matter what kind of project you’re putting off. Need help getting motivated to get to the gym? Writing a term paper? Applying to another freaking job? Text (or call— do people answer their phones anymore?) a friend and tell them you need some backup.
9. Cut out useless shit. That boy who keeps you checking your phone to see if he texted back? That stupid Netflix show that makes it effortless to binge on until 4:30am? Take an honest inventory with what’s eating up your time and make a serious effort to take a break— or at the very least put a time limit on it each day.