Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs.com
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox and Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery
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Get Enough Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is essential to having good memory, concentration, energy and mood. It is also one of the easiest things to improve. View the video on improving sleep
Your body makes the brain chemicals needed to help you focus and stay motivated from the foods you eat. You don't have to be a health nut, but getting adequate protein and a variety of dairy, grains and vegetables is essential.
Begin with the end in mind
You are going to be more productive if you have a clear vision of exactly what you need to achieve overall as well as what you need to achieve that day. When I plan my garden I have to visualize how it will look when everything has bloomed to make sure I plant them far enough apart and with shorter things in front. However when I go out the first day, I envision where I need to till to make the rows. The second day I lay out the weed suppression fabric. Having a plan with an overall goal, I don't have to waste time redoing things. By envisioning the daily goals I am able to gather everything I need for that project so I don't have to run back and forth to the barn to get tools or supplies.
Know your temperament
Some people need more structure than others. Some people perform better if they are surrounded by others (like in a library or open group setting), while others do better when they can work alone (scientists, accountants etc.) Another consideration is if you are a broad-strokes or a detail oriented person. We need the dreamers who visualize the projects and the detail people who work to fine-tune it. Know which one you are and work with someone who has the opposite preference. It is all about balance. Finally, know what motivates you….Why exactly are you doing this task—To please your boss? To get a good evaluation so you get a raise?
You have your strengths and weaknesses, so do other people. Capitalize on that. Partner with people who have skills that compliment your weaknesses.
Productivity means you need to understand exactly what needs to be done. If you are completing a task for someone else, you need to understand what they want. You also need to be able to express what you need to complete the task and what you want other people to do. If you cannot communicate clearly then there will be a lot of mistakes and false starts. People with different temperaments communicate in different ways. For example I am a broad strokes person, but my son is a details person. If I tell him to plan how he will study for a test the result will be very general. What I wanted was a week by week break down of exactly which chapters he would read etc. If I communicate effectively with him then I tell him exactly what I want the finished product to look like.
Email, social media, youtube videos, trips to the break room all slow you down. When you are working on a project, eliminate those things that will switch your focus.
See yourself successfully completing the project and how awesome it will be when it is done. This helps keep your motivation going.
Set SMART goals with deadlines
Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Limited help keep you on task. The deadlines keep you from lollygagging.
Give yourself a reward each time you stay on task. For example, I may resist going to get another cup of coffee until I finish a “chunk” of a task like writing this post. If you get your tasks accomplished for a day, then reward yourself by doing something you enjoy that evening.
Learn Why, not just what and how
Understanding why the task needs to be done and how it benefits you will also help maintain your motivation.
Happy people are more able to focus and concentrate and tend to have more energy to be able to focus. Make your work environment as pleasant as possible. On your breaks do things that make you happy like watch the birds, listen to a comedian, call a friend.
Create competition and rewards
Some people thrive on competition. This gets them motivated. My daughter just got a fitness tracker and we compete on steps and intensity minutes each day.