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Distracted? 10 Ways to Get Stuff Done Anyway

We all have days when it’s hard to get things done. Lack of sleep. Bad boss. Critical co-worker. Disappointing project. Relationship blues. The news. Or just feeling “off.”

09-23 Cactus a Little Blue

This is where self-regulation comes in, which is all about aligning your…

  • Thoughts
  • Behaviors
  • Feelings

…in a constructive way to take what might have been a wasted day and turn it into a productive one. Here are 10 well-researched ways to motivate yourself (or others).

  1. Set Goals You Can Manage. Set small, achievable goals. Break larger goals up into chunks. Focus on just the next small goal.
  2. Strategize Your Tasks. For your next small goal, list subtasks. Hand off tasks you can delegate. For tasks you will do yourself, start with the least attractive one if you can. Get it out of the way. Or, try an easy subtask first to create momentum.
  3. Use Imagery. Imagine yourself doing the tasks. Visualize a successful outcome.
  4. Be Your Own Teacher. Remind yourself what is required to complete the task(s). Give yourself little prompts and (quietly) praise your own efforts as you go.
  5. Manage Time. Schedule difficult tasks for your best time (morning, maybe). Take breaks, pace yourself. Keep after your work even if distracted. Don’t beat yourself up if your attention wanders. If you keep dwelling on what’s bothering you, try giving yourself permission to worry or be distracted for 5 minutes; then get back to work.
  6. Monitor Your Progress. Keep track of the progress you’re making. Note when you’ve completed a task or part of a goal.
  7. Evaluate How You’re Doing. Check your work. Review your progress.
  8. Give Yourself Little Rewards. Finish something? Take a little break, get a cup of tea, look out the window.
  9. Structure Your Environment. Assemble everything you need. Reduce distractions.
  10. Seek Help. Work with a partner to help keep each other focused. Exchange feedback. Offer and receive support from others.

By using some or all of these 10 strategies, you can stay more focused and get more done. They’re particularly great when you are having “one of those days,” or feeling a little “off.”

Have you tried some of these? Do you have other strategies that help when it’s hard to get things done?


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