If you’re feeling sluggish, unfocused and frankly worthless at work, it can be hard to get up and get at it each day. We all have off days and it’s especially easy to get sidetracked during the summer when there are so many festivals happening, days of beautiful sunshine and such a contrast between work and what you could be doing. Don’t let your demotivation win though. If you instill a few easy tricks in your day-to-day routine at work or at home, they will help you to maximize your productivity and motivation in the office. Taking breaks, prioritizing, asking questions and making your to-do lists at the most opportune time of day are four simple steps that can change your work performance almost instantly. So if you’ve been falling behind, read on for my quick tips.

1) Make your to-do list at night

Yes, you read that right. Think about it: At the end of the day, you’re thinking about everything you didn’t get done during your shift. But by the next morning the urgency is probably gone. So chances are your to-do list will be more thorough and inspired if you take five minutes to write it after work each day. This also helps because you already know what kind of day you’re going to have even before you take your first (vital) sip of coffee.

2) Prioritize your tasks

When you’re making a list, either physical or mental, don’t just throw everything together. If you to-do list looks like this: paint nails,watch yesterday’s episode of Big Brother, clean kitchen, schedule interview, pay bills, get dinner with long-time-no-see BFF — you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed. There reaches a point when we need to prioritize our lists of what to do. This doesn’t mean that painting your nails or that dinner with your friend aren’t important, but just that they aren’t at the top of your list. Split up your tasks into urgent, important, and personal. You need a healthy mix of each, but knocking the urgent and important tasks out of the way will lead to less hectic and more manageable days at work, as well as weekends full of personal time. Prioritizing from the start will make your days better overall.

3) Take a lunch break

Listen, we know all too well that it can be tempting to just eat at your desk. Ask any of the editors and they’ll admit they’ve personally have struggled with this too. But breaks from your desk are just plain good. You can definitely still pack your lunch, but stepping out of the 12-foot radius that you spend most of your day in isn’t just a stress reliever, it also lets your brain take a break and your creative juices reload. When you step back into the office you should be more motivated, more creative, and you should be less sick of your surroundings. It’s worth it, trust me.

4) Ask for help

Once again this is super straightforward, but when you get too comfortable in the office or too anxiety-ridden, it’s something that can be easy to forget. If you forgot how to do that task you were assigned a while back, it can be embarrassing or frustrating to reach out with questions, but we guarantee your boss will be happier when you admit to your progress and confusion than if you send in work that’s incorrect or uninspired. Human error exists, but reaching out to others can eliminate a ton of it in the office. And, once you get more comfortable reaching out with questions, the questions will be easier for you to ask in the future and for your co workers to ask as well.

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About Christine Elizabeth Cauthen

My name is Christine, and I love all things music, writing and fashion. I'm a graduate of the University of Missouri with a major in magazine editing and a minor in Sociology. I love to read, watch documentaries about the ocean and have stimulating conversations with friends. Say hello.