Put your work in front of you

I have found that when I want to start working on something, but I’m not feeling very motivated or have a lot of energy to get started, one of the best things I can do is to pull up whatever it is I want to work on and place it front and center. I try to use the natural inclination my mind has to interact with whatever is in front of it to establish some forward momentum in that direction.

This is especially true if I’m working with a document or code. For example, if I know that I need to work on a script, but I’m not feeling especially motivated to get going on it, I will tell myself: “Just get it front and center on your screen. Then just navigate to the approximate area in that code where you left off last time.” Usually after I do this, I see something that makes me want to start working on it, and away I go.

Of course, if I want a particular task to be front and center and STAY there, I need to eliminate the distractions that can pull me off course. This is why I also close all programs that I don’t need to do the work (especially email), and try to maintain a clean and un-cluttered desk as much as possible.

You may think, “Well if I close all the other programs, it’s going to be a pain when I’m constantly re-opening applications that I need every once in a while. Besides, my computer has enough memory, it can handle it.” This might be true. If you have a newer machine (or upgraded your old machine), you probably have enough memory to run more applications than you need to get your work done. And it might be a pain to re-open applications more often, though not nearly as bad as you might think unless the program takes more than a few seconds to load every time, especially with keyboard shortcuts.

However, as you are switching between applications to get your primary task done, the five other currently unneeded applications you have open will be a constant source of distraction and clutter, which you will have to navigate around to get your work done. In my experience, the time savings of having an uncluttered and non-distracting digital and physical work space usually outweighs the additional time needed to re-open applications a few more times.

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