Most people can accomplish a lot of work when they are feeling good, but being able to be productive during a lazy day is a learned skill. I know that I’ve struggled with my motivation, especially after being yelled at for a mistake.
There is one rule that you must keep in mind:
You’ll rarely ever be as productive on a low motivational day
as you would on a motivated day. Accept this and work with
the attitude you have.
If you can remember this rule then you can feel successful on low motivational days. There have been days that have started slow and I’ve been able to get my internal motivation excited and it turns into a highly productive day, but this is rare and never seems to last the whole day through. Working with the flow of my mind, I’m able to maximize its ability.
It doesn’t matter if you work for a company, yourself, or if you’re jobless; there are always days that never go quite the way you want them to. I’ve been refining eight mental tricks that I’ve used over the past couple of years to turn a low motivational day into a productive one.
Work Happy Now! - Eight Mental tricks:
1. Make it a game.
I’ve dealt with many low motivational days and the first one that comes to mind is the day I call “Why is everyone yelling at me.” I was yelled at by the President of the company for a small mistake on an important report and for missing a meeting, by a co-worker for being too pushy, by a driver who I accidentally cut off, by a lady who didn’t like my dog sniffing up on her, and my mom in an email I read before bed. I had to think of all these mistakes and realize that they are moments that I can use. Like a character in a video game or a baseball player coming out of a slump, I can learn to use my mistakes to improve my next move.
After I was yelled at for the third time I began to see that it was mostly my mistakes that were causing my low motivation. I knew that I had to release these errors or my motivation would sink even lower. I looked at myself from the third person, as if it wasn’t me getting yelled at, but just my character I was controlling that day. All this yelling couldn’t hurt me if I was just a character in a game. It would only make me stronger and improve my ability to make a better decision.
2. Watch your emotions.
Waking up and knowing that the day will be a struggle is a feeling I now revel in. The last time I awoke with low motivation I actually smiled. I saw the emotional possibility in front of me.
Sitting at my desk I drank a cup of caffeinated tea to spark my motivation. Nothing happened. My energy level felt lower. I knew that the day was going to be a challenge. I was lucky that on this day I wouldn’t need a lot of energy. I could just take my time and do each job methodically. I felt like I was in a haze. I had to read a report four times before it finally sank in. By watching how I reacted and not trying to force myself to snap out of it I was able to cruise through the day and get many things accomplished.
o Stuffing marketing bags
o Writing an email to a co-worker
o Setting up a few appointments
o Enjoying a lunch outside
o Reading a report and summarizing it for my boss
After the day was done I realized that just watching my mood and going with the feelings allowed me to be more accepting of my circumstance. I didn’t push myself into a further grumpy state and the day ended up being one of average productivity that was probably better than some of my highly motivated days.
3. Enjoy the external show.
Sitting through a two hour meeting is never fun, but it can be enjoyable. Although it’s difficult to focus, it is possible to cajole my attention. There was a two and a half hour meeting that I got roped into because they wanted my input. The meeting was only 10% relevant to me, so I was stuck and unable to participate for most of it.
I looked at this meeting as an opportunity to study people’s facial expressions. I am usually so caught up in meetings, trying to get my point of view in, that I miss a lot of the show in front of me. This time I made sure to watch each smile, wrinkle of the eye and nervous habit. I got so into the meeting that when it ended I felt disappointed. This technique also allowed me to listen in a different way and I came away with new ideas and respect for people that I had never really given a chance.
4. Immerse yourself in low motivation.
Dive into the sand of low motivation and bury yourself and see what happens. Sometimes I have trouble getting out of the emotional weight, but this technique can work. During one particularly rough Sunday when I had to mow the grass, write a blog, clean the kitchen and cook dinner, I immersed myself in the low motivational feelings.
I sat down on the floor and let out a large breath. I knew I could not ignore this mood, so I dove in and felt everything that was going on within me. My sluggish thoughts, the negative emotions, and the desire to close my eyes, lean back and take a nap on the floor. That’s what I did. I fell into the low motivation, letting my thoughts and feelings take me where they wanted. I set a timer for twenty minutes and gave myself that time to just relax and allow the feelings to do what they wanted. After the timer woke me up the feelings were gone and I could sense my energy rising. I was able to get all my tasks done and I also wrote two emails to a couple of friends.
5. Compromise with yourself.
When I’ve been stuck in a day where I need to get certain things done, I made sure to give myself opportunities for mental breaks throughout the day. I created a little plan to keep my motivation balanced.
8:30 – 9:00 I relaxed and drank some coffee while reading my enjoyable emails.
9:00 – 10:00 I got to work on my report.
10:00 – 10:30 I went for a walk around the office and stopped by John’s cubicle to talk for a little while
10:30 – 12:00 I got back to my report and finished the first draft.
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:30 Edited the report and finalized its content
2:30 – 3:00 Walked around the office building and read an article about marketing that I saved on my computer
3:00 – 4:00 Reviewed the report and sent it to my boss
4:00 – 5:00 Coasted through the rest of the day by cleaning up my desk and talking to my wife on the phone.
Not every day can be a sprint through work; you have to compromise on those days that your body is just begging for a break. You’ll be less likely to burn out.
6. Tackle the easy stuff.
Allowing myself to work at a more compassionate pace has helped me use low motivational days to my advantage. I usually get monotonous and time draining work done, so when I am motivated to tackle the big projects I don’t have to worry about tedious stuff.
Every job has its tasks that require mind numbing focus. I have to stuff marketing bags and fill in forms, jobs that any middle school student could do, but since I must listen to the boss’s wishes I have to get it done. When I have low motivational days I am able to get the tedious stuff accomplished. The bonus is that I look busy and productive to my boss and I get the work done that I normally put off for later. During low motivational days I’m just not able to focus on the difficult stuff, so stuffing bags and writing emails is the best way to get through the day and then be able to relax at home.
7. Know that the next day won’t be as bad.
Some days are just rough on the psyche. Instead of thinking of the day as fixed in stone, I imagined myself getting tougher after each setback.
Every time I tried to work on a report I would get interrupted, or if I tried to do some research into our competition I was blocked by my company’s Internet filter, or I just couldn’t get the right words out to get my point across in an email. Everything I was trying to do failed. I used each stumble or failure as a stepping stone to alter my feelings. I imagined the mental drain leaving my brain, converting into energy, and entering my muscles, storing up for the next day. I saw the next day as a highly motivated day because I had built up all this extra energy. It worked. I plunged through the day. The next day was high energy and productive.
8. Give in.
There’s nothing you can do; you’ve tried the seven mental tricks from above and you can’t get out of your funk. Go with it and stop fighting your feelings.
The last time I felt like this I had some time off with pay, so I used it. I couldn’t be in the office any longer, so I told my boss that I wasn’t feeling well and I needed to go home. I had to take a mental health day or I was going to explode. I watched a movie that I’ve been putting off for weeks and I cooked dinner for my wife. That smile on her face perked up my day and I could feel the sluggishness oozing out of myself.
Each day has its own challenges, no matter how brilliant you are. These mental tips can be applied in almost any circumstance. Give your mind a new perspective and apply one of the tips to make any low motivational day into a productive one.