Ready to Throw in the Towel? 5 Ways to Get Your Productivity Back on Track

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You start off your morning with the best intentions of checking off every task on your to-do list, only to hit a mid-afternoon slump that completely derails your chances of leaving the office feeling accomplished.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time you try a new approach to getting stuff done. Five entrepreneurs share the unique ways they motivate themselves to stay on top of their work.

Do a one-hour sprint.

To combat multitasking fatigue, front load your most difficult project so you can make a dent in it in one sitting. Alexandra Levit, president and founder of workplace improvement business Inspiration at Work, likes to pick the toughest task of her day, and dive into it for exactly one hour.

“This approach will boost your motivation: After all, it’s only an hour. During those 60 minutes, do not give in to distractions or interruptions.” she says. Once that time is up, Levit likes to reward herself by doing something she enjoys at the end of the sprint.

Implement the Pomodoro Technique.

If a one-hour sprint proves too much for you to take on at one time, perhaps working in shorter sets (and taking shorter breaks) would be more feasible. James Simpson, founder and CEO of video game development company GoldFire Studios, utilizes a concept you might have heard of: the Pomodoro Technique.

“I always come back to the Pomodoro Technique whenever I’m having a hard time getting going,” says Simpson. “You commit to extreme focus for just 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break and repeat. I usually need a few of these before I’m back in the right frame of mind and can be productive for the rest of the day.”

Take a yoga class in the middle of the workday.

In addition to being co-founder and president of private investigation service Trustify, Jennifer Mellon also teaches midday yoga classes, which she finds is a useful outlet for taking a pause before getting back to the grind.

“As a yoga teacher and student, I see the benefits firsthand from my students and in myself after a midday yoga break,” she says. “Getting a workout, centering and clearing your mind is critical for productivity, motivation and health.” Mellon encourages co-working spaces and employers alike to adopt this practice for a midday respite.

Try a hot-cold circuit.

In addition to physical exercise, sometimes a blast of hot or cold air is all you need to gain a jolt of energy. Brian David Crane, founder of phone call app Caller Smart, has an unusual way he re-centers himself: It’s called a hot-cold circuit.

“It starts with a trip to the sauna, then the steam room, and then a cold shower,” he says. “This circuit doesn’t take any physical effort beyond sweating. And after the cold shower, I find I’m much more relaxed and capable of getting something important done.”

If all else fails, leave the office.

Want to be more productive? Instead of trying to cram so much work into your day, allot part of your day to completing personal tasks. Jared Brown, co-founder of time-tracking software HubStaff, advocates for spending at least a few minutes outside of the office every day getting errands done.

“Do something small and easy, like going to the grocery store to pick up supplies for the week, or go to the post office and mail a postcard,” he suggests. “It’s impossible to be productive at work all day every day, and no one expects you to be. Getting simple, non-work-related things done can help you get over your rut.”