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Forcing Yourself to Be Productive at Work

by Money Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Many of us have found ourselves in a situation at work where there's just nothing that urges you to work. No inspiration and no energy - days when it's total zilch on the productivity front are the worst. It sucks, to be honest, because you don't really have a choice and you have eight hours' worth of work that needs doing.

Freakonomics, a famous podcast about the hidden side of life, offers insights as to how to overcome non-productivity. In one part of the episode "How to Get More Grit in Your Life", guest and psychologist Angela Duckworth brought up the case of Olympic swimming gold medallist Rowdy Gaines. She said that when she asked Gaines if he loved practice, he practically said no; no to the early morning routine, no to the cold water, and no to being at the very limit of his physical ability. But, in the end, he loved the whole thing.


Looking for the Big Picture


This is the lesson in the Gaines story: learn to look at the results, conclusion or the big picture. You don't practice getting good at work, and you don't have that much space to commit errors, but it's the premise of pushing to achieve results that you have to learn. Those days will come where your body is just going against the things you need to do, and though it's not so frequent, it's still important to know that you can grind out results even though your body clearly doesn't want you to.


Speaking of grind, let's get into MMA and the value of going through hell for a paycheck. One of UFC's most famous slogans, though unofficial, is "Embrace the Grind". Whether it's in training or the actual fight, you should never surrender until you're truly spent. It's unimaginable for regular people to do the training these athletes do, and considering the fact that they have to train in multiple disciplines, that involves a lot of improving in areas of fighting they have no clue about. That's all in the name of the paycheck, so in a way, you can compare it to grinding results at work.


Learn to Love


In most cases, this is the most important thing to learn. A common trait among the most successful people in their field, or at least in their work, is that they have passion for it. But, it's also undeniable that many people work to survive. Love isn't in the equation. A lot of times, that should be enough. In the long run, however, it's better to learn to love what you do.


That's easier said than done, of course. 99% of us are not fortunate enough to be working in an industry we love. Our tip: find one aspect of your work that you love, and focus on it. Find your true-north, and discover what gets you up for work everyday. Perhaps it's the opportunity to exercise your creativity? Or interaction with your great colleagues? Find that small thing that motivates you, and use it to push your productivity.


Keep At It


One sure way of loving your job is by exerting the extra effort to make sure you are good at it. There's a satisfaction in knowing that your bosses can count on you. More than that, if you like this particular company, their ways of going about things and the people, then you have more reasons to push yourself to do better in all aspects.


Achieve professional excellence through deliberate practice. You will find your forte, regardless of the line of work you're in, and it won't be long until you perfect it. Getting better also means improving in areas you do not excel in. Rather than doing the same thing you're already good at, try your hand at tasks you find challenging or less exciting. Your well-roundedness will improve, you'll become even more indispensable, and you'll learn to love your work one excruciating detail at a time.


Don't Get Haggard


Looking at the whole thing, this is something you will have to do constantly. Working hard without productivity will leave you haggard in no time. Take breaks regularly to energize yourself. What usually works for us is either a short coffee-break, or a quick trip to the comfort room to blast our face with a refreshing splash of water.


Still, knowing that you have the grit to grind out results will make you more confident. The best that will come out of it is that this ability to get things done will not be exclusive to work; you can do the same on a personal level, too.