Monday was Labor Day, and if your office is anything like ours, you spent the holiday celebrating a brief respite from your overcrowded email inbox. And while that’s all well and good, I’ve found that short work weeks are particularly taxing on productivity levels.
I’ll set the scene. You show up (or log in) for work on Tuesday. You stayed up a little late last night celebrating, so you’re a little sluggish to begin with. You open your browser to find your inbox crammed with twice as many messages as you usually start the day with, but you also have twice as many meetings to attend (because you moved yesterday’s meetings to today), and you have a long list of clients who are each still expecting you to work X number of hours for them by Friday even though you have one less day to get it all in.
You try to start a task, but the to-do list feels a little overwhelming, and to make matters worse: your head and heart are still firmly planted at Monday’s block party. Sound familiar?
How’s a person supposed to get motivated under those conditions? I’ve heard so many colleagues and friends over the years say they consider short work weeks a complete wash. They approach the week in a holiday daze, find themselves frozen by the deadlines looming ahead of them, and Friday rolls around before they are able to get their head in the game and get moving.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are steps you can take to make sure you do your work well, even if you’re feeling unmotivated. If Labor Day has you in a funk, try these tips for staying productive:
1. Get rid of unnecessary commitments.
Sure, some of your work is urgent, but unless you’re a trauma surgeon, it can’t all need your immediate attention. After a holiday, you’re short 20% of your work hours (and mental capacity, let’s be honest). Take a minute to figure out what work can be delayed until next week, and boomerang that stuff right on out of your life until next Monday.
Don’t forget! If this work involves a client, communicate with them about any adjusted deadlines. If you set expectations now, you won’t find yourself in a sticky situation later during the week.
2. Rotate between fun and tedious tasks.
No matter how much we all love our jobs, some parts of our day are just plain boring. If you’re feeling unmotivated, it could be because you’re trying to slog through too much tedium at once.
Look at your to-do list for the week and organize your work into items you’re really excited about (picking out a baby shower gift for your client) and items that bum you out (database maintenance for someone else). For every monotonous job you get done, reward yourself with a fun project you enjoy doing. It will give you something to look forward to — and that alone makes the day go by more quickly.
3. Treat yo’self.
Coming down from the high of a long weekend can make your professional life seem bleak, even if you have an awesome and rewarding career. To keep the good times rolling, take a little time out of each day this week to treat yourself! Swing by your favorite coffee shop in the morning, have a beer with lunch (unless it violates your office’s policies, obviously), or pop in your headphones and listen to some good tunes while you crank out emails.
With these simple tips, stressful short weeks are a thing of the past. By prioritizing and adding a little flavor to your day, you will break up the tedium, stay focused while actually enjoying yourself, and make it to the weekend in no time!
How did we treat ourselves this week? By creating an awesome work themed playlist, of course! Enjoy!
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