April 30, 2023
You know the feeling. You have the best-laid intentions, all the hope and promise in the world, you’re feeling focused and driven. The question is will they stand the test against “the slump”?
You might relate this feeling to the most famous of the workday slumps: 3:00 pm. That time of day when you’re past breaks, almost but not quite done with the work day, and lost for motivation. It’s that time of day when you wonder why you ever complained of naptime in kindergarten. You might start grasping at tools to distract you from the tasks at hand and help the time pass more quickly.
Then there are more long-term slumps. The kind that hits when you start out a project with zeal, completing the first few steps with vigor; only to have that passion fizzle as you correct drafts and wait for approvals. As time passes and critiques come up you hit a slump and wonder if you want to complete the project at all.
Finally, there’s the slump that comes in the face of defeat. Maybe you lost sight of goals, or you have to admit that a goal was not achieved. You’re bound to slow down as you wonder where to go from here, asking “What comes next”? If you don’t have an answer to that question you’re in for a really hard slump.
So, what can you do about it?
There are plenty of skills and techniques to help get you out of whatever slump you’re in. We’re here to offer you three things you can do, no matter what kind of slump you’re in. Whether you’re looking to hit long-term goals or just trying to make it through the workday we’ve got you covered.
1) Think of What You’re Looking Forward To
What brought you to this point? It could be anything from a belief that you are making the world a better place to the promise of a paycheck. Sometimes both and anything in between. Once you remember the “why” that brought you here, reflect on the next thing that you’re looking forward to. Dinner when you get home? A concert on the weekend? The success of completing the project? Imagine that each thing you do to break out of the slump will bring you closer to that thing.
There’s an integration between the personal and the professional that often gets overlooked. The two often need to work together for a person to feel truly satisfied in either. When all you want to do is sink into a cup of coffee, lose yourself in a phone screen, and take a nap, remember that none of these things will bring you long-term satisfaction. Visualize the things that you are looking forward to following the slump and take the next productive step toward getting there.
2) Do Something…Anything
The hardest part about wasting time is, well, doing nothing. You feed a cycle of frustration and lost productivity. The good news? That cycle works the other way around. We like to place the reminder that sometimes the hardest part is getting started. So, get started. Pick one task, maybe the hardest, or maybe the simplest thing and just start. Once you have a little bit of momentum, usually the motivation to finish the task or to continue working on the project follows. You don’t need to have the whole path clear to just get one thing done. The other benefit to this is that time doesn’t just fly when you’re having fun. It flies just by offering yourself an alternative to watching the clock! You’ll be more productive AND find yourself on the other end of the slump before you know it.
3) Focus On What You Can Do, Rather Than What You Can’t
It’s easy to get into the mindset that you can’t move forward without a response to your last email, or without a software install, or until you’re clocked out of work. Oftentimes that means feeling gridlocked against the things that are on your mind. In these cases, try to think outside the box to see if there is anything you can do to free up your mental energy and move forward in productivity.
If you’re distracted with other things, do something to get it off your mind. For instance, a 10-minute break may not be too taxing on your workflow and can allow you to make phone calls or write a list of personal items that are keeping your mind off your workday. You might find that a short break frees up stress after leaving work while allowing you to keep your mind on office tasks more easily.
If you’re blaming others for the sense that you’re unable to move forward on any task or project, take action. Is there anything you CAN do before getting their feedback? Do you need to follow up with them, or send a gentle reminder? Are there other parts of the project, or other demands on your job that you can address now so that they aren’t taxing your capacity later? Wasted time can’t be gotten back, but the time that you’re forced to wait can be used to place a sort of investment in future time.
Whatever the thing is that has you feeling mentally drained or stuck there’s always a path out of it. Take control of your mentality to reclaim your productivity and raise above the feeling that you’re waiting for time to be over. Your energy levels and overall mood might just improve as a result.
If you’re feeling like your business is in a slump and needs to be refreshed with the right personnel, tech systems, and organization practices, that’s our area of expertise. Sometimes the next step to approach a productivity slump is to just consider it done.