Recently, I faced a struggling time. I am usually a productive guy (or at least I tend to think so). On any given day, I have a long to-do list and multiple projects (personal and professional) cooking away. And the first quarter of this year was particularly fulfilling because I religiously followed my system of planning and rituals, and got quite a few things started and some others squared off.
But some time back, the momentum started wearing off. I started to slow down, and lose the joy. Now that’s a horrible state to be in. Because all of a sudden I was not enjoying the things I like to do, not enjoying my work and suddenly I couldn’t feel any excitement for my plans and dream projects. And so, I started procrastinating big-time. I could hardly get thru the day accomplishing a few things. Around mid-day tiredness and fatigue would set in, and that would be the end of work as we know it.
Even coffee (that wonderful elixir of hope, energy and lofty creativity) would only supply short-lived bursts of motivation! If you know me, you would call that situation a disaster, no less!
So then how to get out of this morass? How should I get my mojo back, my energy and excitement back? I decided not to give up and go slip into suspended animation, because God knows if you do that, how long it would be before one can climb out of it (if one even manages to do that).
So here’s what I did to get my groove back, and what an approach anyone can try in a similar situation:
Keep pedaling: When you are cycling long distances and lose your steam, the worst thing you can do is to stop. Because then you lose any and all momentum, and to get it back up, the effort required will be that much more and painful. Instead, keep pedaling, even if its minimal, so that the movement continues.
Keep working at a level you feel you can, getting a few items checked off on your list daily, even if they are really small to-dos.
Unstructure: Many a times, you lose excitement when theirs is way too much structure and scheduling in your days. And over-structuring can overwhelm and create stress, causing even a simple project to seem daunting. So, go and unstructure. Spend your time without worrying about efficiency. Forget being systematic about your to-do list for some time. Do the thing you feel like (as long as it’s not something you will feel ashamed about!). Gather some ‘happiness’ points. Feel good. Chuck the guilt.
Do the next small thing: For the big projects and dreams staring at you, go pick up on the next smallest sub-task and work on it. Do it for only as long as you feel like. Then leave it and go goof around. Come back to it when you feel like.
Relax and renew: Shut your mental systems off for some time every day. Go grab a cup of coffee and stretch yourself out with a book. Or simply drive around and observe the inconsequential. Meditate. Walk. Watch a refreshing movie. Converse with friends.
Now, try getting back: Test out a little structure and scheduling. Build a to-do list. Check off items on the list one after the other, continuously. Regain that sense of accomplishment when you put check-marks on your list. Create some plans. Revisit your dreams. Inspire yourself.
I am now regaining my momentum and getting more stuff done. What’s more, the excitement is back and I am really looking forward to the next set of tasks I need to crank out. Can’t wait.
What are some of your strategies?