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There are certain days when you feel energized and ready to climb mountains but there are also other days when you feel tired and unmotivated. These are the days when you need to be particularly mindful about your schedule so you can actually get some work done.
Today I’m gonna tell you my approach on how to get into a productive mood and start working even when you don’t feel like it at all! This system always works for me and it consists of 10 easy steps, some of which can be skipped if you get into a state of effective work earlier along the way.
Earlier I talked about the main causes of laziness and this time let’s see what you can do about it. The ability to get yourself together and don’t rely exclusively on your mood for getting work done is one of the most important qualities for someone who works from home!
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How does mood affect productivity?
Even though there are many productivity factors that influence your workday, your mood is practically on top of it all. Psychologists agree that being in a state of negative mood affects your productivity in many bad ways even if you are consciously trying to be positive.
Working in a bad emotional state makes you get distracted more easily, especially by negative thoughts. You tend to take breaks more often and may struggle to focus on a task. Working in a good mood is associated with producing better results, being more flexible, and coming up with more creative solutions.
What are your personal triggers that can improve your mood? Define them and use them if possible before you proceed to the steps below. Think of something that always makes you smile! Studies have shown that even a fake smile makes you feel better as this specific muscle movement is connected to releasing the “good” neurotransmitters to your brain – and those directly influence your emotional state.
Make an effort to up your mood so you can make the most of your day! Here are a few quick ideas that may help lift your mood right away. When you are done, read on to see what you can do to get your actual work started.
Here are 10 things you can do to put yourself into a productive mood when you don’t feel like working. Follow them in this exact order and get ready to get things done!
10 steps to get into a productive mood right now
1. Try the Forest app
Forest is a free mobile app that helps you stay focused. It counts the time that you work without distractions and with every successful time period, you grow a new tree in your forest.
I’ve tried a lot of applications aimed to keep you focused but this one is the only one that actually works for me! I love the way they use the Pomodoro technique through growing beautiful forests of trees. They literally get you hooked on productivity!
Main perks of using Forest app:
- It lets you choose a period of focused time, from as little as 10 minutes to as long as 2 hours. Personally, I found that 20 and 30-minute intervals without distractions work the best for me and if I’m not finished with my task I can just start a new count in one click and continue working.
- It tracks your progress for the day, week, and month. You can see which hours are the most productive during your day and how many days of slacking you had this month, if any.
- It prevents you from getting any smartphone distractions. Whenever you open any app besides those that are on your allowed list, it counts as a distraction. You lose focus, the timer stops, and your tree dies. Such a cool way to stop you from unnecessary scrolling during the working window!
- It reminds you to take breaks. Sometimes it’s easy to dive into your workflow and lose the track of time. Forest ensures you have a break at least every two hours so you can get up and stretch your muscles a bit.
- It’s beautiful! Growing your own forest feels like a little accomplishment and the more trees you grow, the prettier it looks. It also adds to your productive mood with little encouraging reminders.
- By buying the PRO version you can participate in growing real trees around the world. So you can actually help the planet by being productive, how great is that!
2. Say productivity affirmations
We already looked at how important your mood is and saying positive affirmations is the best way I know to improve it. By repeating productivity affirmations at the beginning of every day or whenever you feel down, you are switching your context into achieving success and become more likely to get to work.
If you are new to the concept, here are a few useful guides on making the affirmations work for you:
- How Many Affirmations Per Day Should You Say To Make Them Work?
- How To Write Affirmations That Work: 4 Manifestation Rules
- How Many Affirmations At Once Should I Focus On For Best Results?
3. Keep track of your habits
There is a ton of beautiful and free habit trackers like Habitify available these days but simple grid in your planner can be as effective if you don’t mind a bit of drawing.
With every habit you may be implementing into your life, you only need a few days or weeks in a row of doing it to make it stick. And as soon as you made it into a habit, you don’t need to rely on your willpower to do it every time, you just do it without thinking.
Marking every habit as successful at the end of the day gives you a feeling of achievement and good daily performance. As you start keeping track of your work as a habit, at some point you get a streak long enough that you won’t want your mood or laziness to ruin it. You worked so hard to get there so why would you start all over again?
When you are working from home, it’s easy to procrastinate for too long, oversleep, or just put the work off until tomorrow. That’s why at the beginning of my self-employment journey I had “Business” as one of the things to track in my habit app. It simply meant that I had to do some work for my business every day. Not without ups and downs but I came to the point when I don’t think about it anymore: I just go straight to the home office as soon as I’m done with my morning routine. Try it for yourself!
4. Eliminate distractions
It’s really hard to get into a productive mood when you are sitting in front of Netflix or Youtube feed or playing with your pet. Sometimes there are too many distractions that you need to deal with before you can be an effective home worker.
Go into your dedicated home office space first thing in the morning, limit your interactions with family and fur babies, turn off everything that you don’t need for work, and just sit there for a minute. When there is nothing else you are allowed to do and you already sit in front of your laptop, you might as well start doing something useful!
5. Dress up for work
By dressing up as if you were going to a corporate office, you are giving your brain familiar signals so it understands that it’s time for work soon! Strict business attire is not necessary but make sure to at least not wear anything that says “bedroom” to your home office.
6. Make your home office fun
If you still don’t have a dedicated place at home for the office, create it! I mentioned this as one of the 6 important factors that influence productivity, check it out if you haven’t yet.
Compare two versions of yourself:
- one You is lying down very comfortably under the blanket with the weight of a laptop full of TV shows on top
- another You is sitting behind the desk at your fun but professional home office, surrounded by motivational stuff
Which You do you think will be more likely to start working?
7. Have a to-do list
The process of getting into a productive mood becomes much easier when you have a clear picture of what exactly you need to get done. Not only it helps you clear your head and lifts some pressure off you, but it also lets you prioritize your tasks easily as you clearly see them all in front of you.
I use a minimal app called Todoist for my daily tasks and a management system called Trello for bigger projects. Both have free versions that are enough for most personal use. But you can totally just write your daily tasks on a piece of paper if that works for you!
When you have a to-do list created in advance, you will never face the question “what to do now?”. You already have a list of things you need to check off in order to call this day a good and productive one, so better start now!
8. Promise yourself a reward
Sometimes when nothing else works, you need to motivate yourself in a more aggressive way. Promise yourself something pleasant that you will only get when you do a certain amount of work. Make it measurable so it’s hard for you to cheat and it will feel like it was worth it when you get the reward in the end!
Our brains have a complex system that responds to dopamine (a neurotransmitter that is released when we expect a reward). The way it works is that it motivates us to do the work so we actually get the promised reward. This has been working on both humans and animals since ancient times and we can use it for our advantage when it comes to self-motivation.
It may be a hot bath, some time with a good book, a beauty appointment, or a delicious treat. Whichever feels good as a reward for you, try it! You won’t need this kind of motivation as soon as you create a habit of working every day but it’s a foolproof solution you can turn to until you do.
9. Start with a small task
Seeing a huge pile of work may be intimidating and demotivating so much that you stay in bed all day long. Instead, a small easy task that will only take a few minutes to a couple of hours usually looks doable and not scary at all.
If you have a big project on your plate, break it down into smaller tasks until you have many little ones that can be each done in one sitting. This way you eliminate the subconscious fear factor and can just get to work to make your day productive.
10. Use a 5-second rule
If you haven’t heard about The 5 Second Rule book by Mel Robbins, she talks about a simple way to start implementing something as soon as you heard about it.
The main point of the book is using a so-called 5-second rule. It says that whenever you decide to do something, count from 5 to 1, and then physically move in the direction of doing it.
Apparently, there is a window of about 5 seconds after you make a decision and before all the doubts and excuses start to kick in. So you need to act on it before your mind starts questioning it! This is explained really well in this short animated video:
Use this 5-second rule whenever you need a productive day, especially if there is a deadline of some sort.
Final words on how to get into a productive mood
Now you know how to make yourself work even when you are not in the mood! Use these steps whenever you need to get some work done but don’t feel like it.
Remember that your mood is temporary! Inspire yourself regularly with growth mindset quotes and positive affirmations to prevent your mood from going down as much as possible! It’s easier to maintain a good mood than to pull yourself out of a slump every time.
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