How To Be Productive When You're Not Motivated

I can't tell you how many times this technique has helped me go from not feeling like doing any work, to being super productive - in 15 minutes or less.

I’ve got productivity on my mind.

And I suppose that’s not so strange, since I’m in the middle of finishing my upcoming online course on productivity techniques. (Give me a week or two!)

Anyway, I figured I’d share one of my personal favorites with you today.

I use this technique several times a week.

Every time I feel stuck. Every time I don’t feel like starting a task. Every time I feel demotivated, uninspired, or lazy.

Ok, maybe not every time. I’m by no means perfect and I’ll stop pretending to be ;)

But regularly enough that it helps me get things done more often than not.

The technique is called a mini-sprint, and it’s very simple.

All I do is choose something to work on as hard as I can for 15 minutes. Preferably something related to the bigger task or goal that I’m working on that day, though it doesn’t have to be.

My goal during the sprint is to block out everything else. So I put my phone on Do Not Disturb. I close the door to my office. I closedown everything on my computer that I don’t need. And so on.

Then I open the task, look at the time, and give it my all for 15 minutes.

Because even when we don’t feel like working, we are adults and do have the self-discipline to get ourselves to do something for a measly 15 minutes. Right?

They key to this productivity technique.

It does not matter at all if the work you do during them is good or not. So kick your perfectionism and fear of failure and all that to the curb.

If I’m writing an article, for example, I don’t care about type-o's. I don’t care if the content is good. I don’t even care if it makes any sense. If it's an important task I'm working on, I'll just go back and fix it later when I'm feeling more motivated.

(This does mean, of course, that you should choose a task to do during your sprint that you can do poorly without causing too much trouble for yourself or others. So, you know, if you’re a surgeon – don’t do surgery;)

The goal of the sprint isn’t to make a big dent in my to-do list. It isn’t to do good work. It’s just to get my work-juices flowing. It’s to create a slight sense of accomplishment.

In reality, it’s to get the reward system of my brain to activate. And to create a feeling of accomplishment. Even if it's just a tiny one.

The 3 ways you become productive.

Whenever I use this productivity technique, I end up with one of three results:

  1. I end up working for far longer than 15 minutes.
    Either because I get into the groove of it and forget about the time, or because when I notice that the time is up I don’t care because I’m on a roll.
  2. I finish the task before, or around, the 15-minute mark, and feel ready to take on a different or bigger task. So I end the sprint and start doing "actual" work.
  3. The 15 minutes end and I still don't feel ready to work. So I take a 5-10 minute break, and then I do another mini-sprint.

In the absolute worst-case scenarios, I end up doing 3-4 mini-sprints over the first hour to an hour and a half before the effect kicks in. But even then I’ve at least gotten some work done.

But those days are rare.

This technique tends to get me motivated to do productive work far more efficiently than half-assing my way through work on those slow, demotivated days.

There’s something about that give-it-your-all 15-minute sprint that tends to really get you going.

Just make sure you’re well hydrated, fed, and got enough rest. Because if you’re lacking in those departments, most techniques I could share with you will fall short.

Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.

Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.

I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.

Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.

Come join me in my Facebook group, follow my Instagram, or subscribe to my YouTube channel for fresh content on a regular basis.