When you’re suffering from a lack of motivation or simply not feeling well, it can seem impossible to start anything productive. Sure, you can watch Netflix and browse Reddit, but the thought of getting anything done causes you to lose any energy you may have had.

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I Can’t Do Anything

To get through these terrible times, Mike Vardy of Productivityist suggests creating to-do lists based on energy. It’s often tasks that require a lot of mental energy that drain motivation, causing you to lose focus. But by putting together a list of things you can accomplish with your current energy level — instead of things you wish you could accomplish — you can start to build momentum.

The idea is very similar to the goal-based dash approach, which makes you set an achievable goal to help jump-start your productivity. So the next time you’re feeling down and out, think of one thing you have the energy to do — no matter how small — and do it. You may not know what it takes to prevent slumps of energy, but you may find a simple way out using this technique.

I Can Do Everything!

Alternatively, there are days that start perfect, and you feel like you can do anything and everything. If those are rare or you feel you squander those days doing relatively simple things, spend your time on high-energy tasks.

For example, I’d been thinking of building a new personal site for a while, and I noticed it was on my mind more and more often.  Normally, I would have scheduled a day to work entirely on it, likely wasting many hours pulling hairs and tweaking various mockups. On one of these great days, however, I decided it was a good idea to just get the ball rolling and start messing around with design. Because I had a plenty of energy and motivation, I was able to complete a mockup that I was proud of in only a few hours.

Vardy admits that this method “requires honesty,” as you may try to “cheat yourself by doing something lightweight instead.” And, that’s true; it’s very easy to waste a great day on things you could do anytime. So get in the habit of being honest with how you feel, and use that your advantage.

Energy, Time, Priority, Work/Life: 4 New Ways To Organize Your To-Do List | 99u via Lifehacker


Image: Rob Warde