I know I've mentioned before that sometimes I really struggle with my productivity. I'm a vicious procrastinator. For me, deadlines are targets, not last resorts, and quite often they're my main source of motivation, too. Most writers know the power of a looming deadline to break them out of writer's block.
It's not always ideal to wait until the eleventh hour to work on something, though. For me, working on it sooner requires a little bit of tricking myself. Basically, I need either motivation or momentum, so when the motivation is lacking I need to find a different way to build up some momentum.
For me, a good way to get going is to start with something smaller. Like this blog post. Blogging is often a good "warm up" exercise for me, since it's a way to get my writing muscles going, so to speak, without jumping straight into the deep end. (And yes, I'm blogging right now as a way to warm up to writing an article for a client.)
Another trick I often use is prioritizing my to-do list. Lately I've been keeping my to-do list in Google Calendar, which works well for me as it puts my to-do items and my schedule all in one place. If my day gets hijacked or I find myself having a hard time getting to work, it helps to rearrange the items on my to-do list so that I'm thinking about what's most important to do next. Once I'm thinking about what I need to do, often it's a little easier to slip right into doing it.
The final trick that I find helps sometimes is working on something in small bites. I've found if I tell myself, "I'll just work on it for ten minutes," I get myself moving and often even forget I was only going to do ten minutes-worth. Or, if I know I have a lot to do and the size of the project is overwhelming me, I'll work in small chunks of time with short breaks in between.
Of course, sometimes none of these tricks work, and when that happens, I rearrange my to-do list, try to shake off my feelings of failure, and hope the next day will be better. I think we all have off days, and it helps nothing to be hard on yourself about it.
What tricks do you use to get yourself moving when you're struggling with your motivation?