Lifestyle 01.02.17

9 ways to make yourself work when you just don’t want to

Sometimes procrastination goes too far, leading to tight deadlines and stress. These effective ways to make yourself work might help.
Brenda Wong
Brenda Wong

I count myself lucky. How so? Well, I’ve somehow landed a job in which I basically tweet for a living. Also, I’m passionate about the work I do, I have great colleagues, and my office is dog-friendly. I have all of this. So why is it still so hard to wake up for work in the morning?

Maybe it’s burnout. Maybe it’s the weather. Heck, maybe I’m just lazy. The fact is, my to-do list is longer than my arm and I need to get the heck going.

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to motivate yourself even with a ton of deadlines at your door, don’t fret. Here are some ways to make yourself work even when all you wanna do is binge-watch The Wire. 

1. Start your day right by… making your bed in the morning

ways to make yourself work

We hear you groaning, but trust us, this works.

Doing the same ‘good’ thing everyday is called building a “keystone habit“. Keystone habits essentially start a chain reaction of productivity that will put you on the right track towards productivity.

How does it work? Well, it gives you a ‘small victory’ to be proud of, and tricks your mind into craving more of them. Example keystone habits are drinking a glass of lemon water every day as soon as you wake up, meditating for 10 minutes, and doing a 1-minute plank upon waking. Basically, anything you think warrants a good self-pat on the back.

2. Create a dedicated work area/find a permanent work space


A photo posted by Buffer (@buffer) on

Sometimes, you just have to take yourself out of your comfortable space. As you associate places like your bedroom with sleep and TV, it can be very difficult to convince your brain to work there. Also, if you work in an office, open-plan spaces can quickly fill up with distraction and noise.

If you’re working from home (and have the space), take the time to build yourself a work area. Set it up with all the stationary/chargers necessary, and make sure you have something to keep you hydrated. Also – natural light helps!

If you’re working in an office, try asking your manager for permission to work in reception, or even the cafe across the road. Sometimes, becoming an island, if only for a few hours, could be just the thing to get all your shiz done.

3. Make a schedule and hold yourself accountable to it

Old school, but creating a work schedule or blocking off time in your Google Calendar for specific things does work. Heck, print a blank calendar out and do it by hand.

Having all of your deadlines visible is a great way to guilt-trip yourself into actually doing some work. Have a little compassion for yourself though: if you feel, realistically, that some things need to be pushed back, do so. At least you’ll have a better grasp of all of the things you need to achieve.

4. Tempt yourself into doing work

ways to make yourself work

We’ve covered temptation bundling in more depth right here, including some examples of how to do it. To sum it all up, temptation bundling is a method that combines the fun stuff you like doing with the boring stuff you should be doing.

Temptation bundling is so effective, because it bars you from doing the ‘tempting’ activities’ unless you’re doing it alongside something legit productive. Genius.

5. You can’t feel like a boss unless you look like a boss

ways to make yourself work

There are days where I feel so tired my eye bags have eye bags. The one thing that makes me feel better? Putting on my warpaint. Just the act of putting my winged eyeliner on makes me feel more ready for world domination.

Figure out what to wear to make you feel like you’re in charge. Whether it’s your best cufflinks, or your best pair of comfortable heels, dress for your success.

Read More: The ultimate guide to nailing the office casual wear look

6. Take breaks – and often

ways to make yourself work

Counter-productive? Actually, taking breaks have been proven to increase productivity. The Pomodoro technique, invented in the early 90s by Francesco Cirillo, encourages you to break large tasks down into short, timed intervals (Pomodoros), spaced out by short breaks.

Apparently, it can improve your attention span and concentration. Our favourite lil’ tool to help you kickstart your Pomodoro work style is this Pomodoro Timer Chrome extension.

7. Do the boring thing for just 5 minutes


5 minutes. That’s nothing, right? Actually, this is a sneaky brain trick. Usually, once you jump over the initial hurdle of starting a boring task (like writing an essay), you’d be surprised at how much you’ll want to continue doing it. I mean, you might as well. You’re at your desk anyway.

8. Adopt a ‘prevention focus’


If you’re suffering from anxiety, you might be prone to procrastination because you’re afraid of screwing your task up. Most of the time, we motivate ourselves using a ‘promotion focus’ – for example, “If I work out every day, my summer bod is gonna be amazing.”

The ‘prevention focus’ is a technique that’s more, let’s say, tough love than that. So, instead of going “If I complete this project I’ll get promoted,” it’s more like “If I don’t complete this project my boss is probably going to tell me off.”

Sometimes, there’s just no better way to motivate yourself than thinking about the dire consequences of not doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing.

9. Use an Internet blocker

It’s getting serious, kids. One of my ex-housemates used to make us lock away her phone because she went on Facebook too much and needed to revise. If you have housemates who can do that, we highly encourage it. (We actually took her mattress away too – she was a bit of a serial napper.)

However, in the digital age, using your laptop is pretty much inevitable if you’re working. In order to keep yourself distraction-free, use internet blocker apps.

We particularly like this very sweary one, but use it with caution around the office. Also, we also love ToDoBook, which turns your Facebook News Feed into a to-do list.

Whatever task you have to make yourself to today, go forth and carpe the hell out of that diem. We got you.

Feature image by the author, GIFS via Giphy
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