This 20 Minute Fix will get you on your game when you’re feeling sluggish or unmotivated. I love this strategy because it is extremely versatile – I use it on anything from writing a blog post (I’m using it now!) to cleaning the house in the evenings.

Next time you are feeling unmotivated – or just unsure where to start – with your work flow or to-do list, follow this simple, effective plan for productivity burst that will keep you on your game long past the initial 20 minutes.

1

Start by peeking at the clock. Give yourself a 20-minute deadline, and commit to being 100% focused until you reach 20 minutes. Put your phone in the drawer and eliminate as many distractions as you can. Take a big ol’ sip of coffee (or water, if you are one of those mysterious mythological creatures who doesn’t require a constant flow of caffeine…)

2

If you are unsure what to tackle first, grab a pen and paper and do a quick brain dump (if you have a task in mind, skip this step). What needs your attention today? Don’t spend more than 3 minutes on this. You know what’s on your plate – just get it out of your head and onto paper. You may like to use a prioritized to-do list like this one if you’re completely overwhelmed.

3

Choose the right task. Your productivity burst should be spent on something that can actually be completed in 20 minutes. If you have a larger task in mind, break it down into something specific and achievable. For example, instead of “work on presentation”, decide to “create bullet-point outline” or “find four articles that support my topic”. This way, when your time is up, you will have actually be able to check something off of your list.

4

Hunker down and get it done. You’ve got 20 minutes, and you’re going to use every one of them. Try not to stop to think for too long. Just keep swimming, Nemo! You’ve got this. If you’re less than 5 minutes in and you are still completely stuck, choose a task that feels more natural and start your 20 minutes over.

5

Ding ding ding! You’re done. Check it off your list. My favorite thing about this strategy is that about 90% of the time, once the 20 minutes is up, I find that I’m motivated to keep working, even though I started out totally uninspired. The intense focus required to complete the first task is INVIGORATING! If you’re on a roll, maximize your enthusiasm and keep going. 

Now get to work, my friend!