Tricks for getting back into the swing of things

This is just a simple list of tricks that I use to get myself back into the swing of things. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive in any way but my hope is that it'll give you at least something to incorporate into your day that can help you shake off the cobwebs and get the juices flowing.

  • Music. Boy howdy music can get me motivated. I recommend getting some fantastic, great sounding headphones (I prefer and recommend the Grado Headphones), and a soundtrack that gets your blood flowing. Here's a list of my can't miss music:
  • Water. Stay hydrated. This can be one of the biggest barriers to productivity and can contribute to feelings of tiredness and being worn out.
  • Permission. Many times we don't give ourselves permission to work on the things that we want to work on. There's plenty of other things that we could be doing instead. Consider this your permission slip to just go and work on these things for a bit.
  • Distraction-free workspace. Find somewhere that you can work without distractions. This means turning off your notifications, closing your email and messaging applications, and letting your social media disappear for a bit. Many phones have a "do not disturb" functionality that you can use to turn off notifications. On mine I can put it face-down on the desk.
  • Most important things. Make a list of your 1-3 most important tasks that you want to get done today. (Note that this list isn't the most urgent. Those usually take care of themselves.) These are the things that will help you further along your personal and professional goals. For me it's been working on my game designs and furthering the work in interactive storytelling.
  • Choice. Choose one task from that list of 1-3 most important tasks. Let the other ones disappear for now. They no longer exist for the next few minutes. You can return to them later but for now they might as well be on Mars. Give yourself permission to focus on this one task. If you have trouble selecting one use a die or play "eenie meenie miney moe". Just pick one.
  • Create space. Set a timer and allow yourself to just be with your chosen task until the timer finishes. While that timer is running you focus on that task and nothing else.
  • Notice the stories. Notice what feelings you have. You'll notice things like "I should be working on other things" or "I need to check my email" or other stories your mind will concoct. Suddenly you'll want to clean a drawer or rearrange your desk. Remind yourself that you've set aside this time to be with this one task. You'll get to those things later. If need be write those things down on a pad of paper or in a separate text file and just return to your task.
  • Pour yourself into this task. Let yourself be sloppy, creative, and immersed into this task. Leave your editor behind (unless your task is editing. Then bring your editor.) Give yourself the permission you've lacked up until this point.
  • Gratitude. When the timer finishes give yourself gratitude for working on this task. If you want to reward yourself feel free to do so, but regardless let yourself savor the accomplishment.

I hope this list helps out. Feel free to adapt this however you wish. If you'd like more tips on focusing I can recommend Leo Babauta's book Focus, which can be found online.