Updated: Dec 13, 2018
We've all had them; those days where your head is everywhere except where it's supposed to be and you just can't seem to gain the motivation to get things done. Whether you work in a cubical in some corporate office, run a construction company or you're a stay-at-home parent, you've had these days. Let me be the first to say - those days suck. And we've all asked the same question on those days: How do I get my head where it needs to be to get things done?
Most of the time, this is where you have your "hands up" moment. You know, that moment where you decide that today just isn't going to be productive and your mentality changes from "let's get it done" to "just get by." You end up scrolling through social media, playing solitaire on your computer or really giving up and just taking a nap. Basically, you end up doing nothing you needed to get done.
Some days, this is okay. Some days, it really is enough to just make it to the end of your day when you can lay your head on your pillow and know that tomorrow has the potential to be better.
But some days, that "hands up" moment is not an option. Because the deadline can't be extended. The kids can't miss their clubs/sports tonight. Dinner has to be made. Your spouse needs your time. The client needed it yesterday. You need clean clothes for tomorrow.
So what do you do then?
This is when you focus on gaining the "little victories". You can climb the tallest mountains with the smallest steps.
So what does it mean to gain the little victories? How does that play out?
Well instead of taking on everything at once, take on one small thing at a time until you've gained the momentum to get closer to where you need to be.
We use project folders at my office. When a folder lands on my desk, it means I have a task to do. That task could vary from a 30 second email to my boss to a half hour meeting with a coworker to having two hours of work to do. So what happens when there is a tall stack of folders on my desk at 2PM and I am not feeling too motivated?
What I DON'T do: Place the stack of folders in front of me and tell myself I am going to get them all done, one by one, before I leave. That is unrealistic for many reasons.
What I do: Answer some unread emails I have been putting off so I can't use that as an excuse to delay addressing the pile of folders on my desk. Then, I sort the folders by (a) time of the task and (b) priority. I get all the quick, simple things done first then I move into the priority projects. By now, I've increased my productivity and kept work flowing without overwhelming myself.
This applies to all areas of life, not just "the office." The reality is that it's better to spend time taking on some little things to get your productivity up than to jump head first into something you're not mentally prepared to handle. We all know how the latter goes. Either it all comes out wrong, incomplete or leaves us (and everyone around us) frustrated.
Be realistic. Gain the "little victories" - they lead to big victories.