What are some things that you can focus on when you just literally can’t even?
Regardless of what’s going on in the world, sometimes it’s all you can do to muster up the tiniest bit of energy. When that happens (and it happens to all of us at some time or another), you know there are things you should be doing but just the thought of looking at your to-do list makes you feel overwhelmed. And sometimes, despite all of our best efforts, we’re just in a slump. We know we should be working on our businesses but just can’t seem to get a handle on it and feel like caving in and watching the Golden Girls instead.
So what’s the answer?
What are some things you can do when you have no motivation and can’t focus?
First thing, first – you need to give yourself some small wins – some gold stars. That’s going to give you a quick burst of adrenaline and help you feel like you’re working towards your goals & mission.
Secondly, give yourself permission to “fail” a little bit.
One concept that I learned from Liz Kraft who does a podcast about writing in Hollywood is to “fail” at something. During pilot season in Hollywood, the writers have an incredibly short window of time to write the pilot episodes for the next season of shows. They know there’s no way they can manage everything they normally do. So they cut themselves some slack by having a guilt-free “fail”.
What does that mean?
Maybe they don’t go to the gym as much or they have to skip a bake sale or dance recital or. They choose something to fail at so it gives room for something else (in their case the scripts for the upcoming pilots) to succeed. Their official term is the ‘Season of Sacrifice’.
What I take from that is that it’s ok to cut yourself some slack for not doing everything 100% all the time. You’re not choosing something to ‘fail’ because you don’t think you can do the work or reach your goals. You’re just cutting yourself some slack when you can’t focus and you’ve lost your motivation.
For us, as online entrepreneurs, it may look like not going live or posting Instagram stories. Or maybe you back away from your inbox for a little while or give yourself permission to ignore some of your notifications.
It’s about being okay with not being perfect.
On the other side of giving yourself permission to drop the ball a bit, give yourself credit – a gold star if you will – for your small wins. Just acknowledging your baby steps can make a huge difference in your mindset and your attitude.
Give yourself credit for making the conscious effort of knowing what you’re NOT going to do.
Maybe right now that new blog post just isn’t going to happen. By recognizing what you’re going to sacrifice and letting it go, that’s progress. That’s one less thing to beat yourself up about and drag you down even further. You know you’re not going to do it, even though you “should”, and you’re perfectly okay with that.
Another thing you can focus on when you don’t have it in you to do anything is what I call the ‘teeny-tiny finish’ task.
Ideally, it’s either something you’ve been putting on the back burner that you can get done in 10 minutes or less, start to finish, and then you never have to worry about it again.
If you’re like me, there’s about a million little nagging things that need to be taken care of that aren’t that vitally important. You end up pushing them to the side so you can focus on your money-making activities and before you know it, they’ve all piled up.
It’s always a good idea to get those things on paper so they aren’t running through your head randomly. I call it a brain dump. As you know I love Trello so much I’ve created a course around it so of course, I have a Trello card just for brain dumps. If Trello isn’t your thing, Evernote is also great for keeping track of random notes (and it’s searchable too!)
When you’re not at your best and you just can’t focus on the big picture, cross off one of those things in your brain dump list.
It’s perfectly okay to pick the tiniest, easiest thing you have on that list and take care of it. Maybe it’s cleaning off your desktop. Or deleting Chrome extensions you don’t use anymore. Or backing up your email list. When you need a little adrenaline boost throughout the week, pick something simple and easy, and just do it. And then give yourself a gold star bonus.
Here are some ideas for ‘gold star’ tasks that can make you feel productive even when you’re not:
- Create a pretty link for one of your affiliate programs
- Reply to one email. Or maybe two if you’re feeling like two gold stars.
- Clean up your Chrome extensions
- Tidy up your desktop
- Watch a training from an online course
- Delete your old temporary files
- Empty your recycle bin
- Create an extra Pin for an existing blog post and pin it on Pinterest
- Post on Facebook
- Do an Instagram story
- Update your WordPress plugins
- Delete old files
- Research new software
- Look at Insta or Pinterest for content ideas (and put your notes in Trello or Evernote)
Ok, awesome! You did it. It’s over. Gold star for you!
Now you can celebrate your win for getting something accomplished. Just remind yourself that small accomplishments add up in the long run. Even doing a teeny tiny task helps move your business forward.
Feeling even just a little productive can sometimes make all the difference in the world, especially when we’re having an off day or week (or month).
That “downtime” you take today to just scroll through Instagram and get content ideas could be the very thing that sparks your creativity to come up with your next big money-maker. Or not. And that’s okay too.
Give yourself some credit for taking action, however big or small. It’s going to help lift your spirits and that’s what matters most.