It’s amazing what a three-day weekend can do to your morale when it comes to picking up that virtual pen and getting back to work on Monday. I won’t lie to you – my schedule sucks sometimes and this is definitely one of those days. My day started at 6 am, I was in a meeting on a Monday morning at 7:30 where I learned I’d be “privileged” to have groups of other teachers possibly coming by to learn from and question my teaching practices. What a way to jumpstart a Monday after a break, right?
The day continued in the usual way – six hours of teaching teenagers, stop by the gas station, a full round of grocery shopping and then back to pick up the kids. Put groceries away, make dinner, type in codes for Moshi Monsters and get kids fed. Apparently I ate at some point before bathing kids, reading books and celebrating when a tooth came out five minutes after the oldest was supposed to be asleep. (That delayed the schedule a bit, but it’s fun to watch your kids get older.)
Now it’s 9:32 in the evening, I’m rather sluggish, and I’m going to do what I do best – motivate myself to get back in gear. I’ve discussed a few favorite methods for waking up in another post, but there are only so many things you can do when the rest of the world is sleeping a room away – there’s no jamming out to music and power walking with mosquitoes and possums in the dark isn’t especially appealing. Yet despite this deadlines loom, so here’s my plan to kick my sluggish butt back in gear right now:
Do the Easy Stuff First
Long ago, I realized that stacking the deck in my favor makes Monday nights far more tolerable and productive. So I do the fun stuff on Monday. I have some blogs to write for a site catering to ‘tween girls and a couple of regular, small projects. None of it involves serious research, and I actually enjoy the topics on Monday. It’s like a (profitable) warm-up for the rest of the week.
It helps that I’m in my sixth or seventh year of working with these particular clients as well, so there isn’t much stress here – this is the easy night, and that’s highly motivating. (For the record, the hard stuff waits until Tuesday night when I’m most motivated and must be done by Thursday night when I start to drop off again.)
Stare at My Calendar and Move Stuff Around
I live by my calendar, and I play a game with myself almost every week. I put some projects on the calendar in a moment of highly productive drives. At some point last week I was convinced I was going to write some guest posts tonight.
As I spent five minutes staring at my calendar a bit ago, I realized that those posts aren’t likely to happen after all – plus they aren’t the easy, routine client work I count on for my Monday. So I drag those guest posts down a few days to an empty slot on Thursday. Presto! I have a lighter workload today, which feels good.
Be careful with this trick or you’ll get addicted to moving things around and fail to actually get them done. Since I know I’m playing mind games with myself and that the posts will get done by the end of the week (even if I move them to Friday when I actually need to finish them), playing around with the schedule doesn’t hurt anyone and makes me feel better about my workload.
Force Myself into the Zone
I only have a couple hours to work before I crash, rinse and repeat tomorrow. So I can’t afford to waste time or I’ll lose any edge I had. So I turn on music (softly) to keep me motivated, I minimize email and social media and I put my cell phone far away on the charger. I grab a drink, sit down and put myself in the zone.
There comes a point when you just have to force yourself to get started. Pull up the easy stuff, put some words on the page and focus exclusively on what you’re doing. The more intense the focus, the easier it gets to zone out into work. Short of a crying or vomiting child, nothing is going to knock me out of this zone for at least another hour or so. And that will be a productive hour at least.