How To Stay Focused When You’re Unmotivated

This article includes rabbits.

Ken Marshall
Dec 20, 2017 · 6 min read
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They are creatures that like to dig. Rabbits burrow underground to form tunnels and nests for protection and shelter.

Hence why it’s appropriate to compare a rabbits behavior with my own whenever I stumble on YouTube when i’m supposed to be working...

I just keep digging deeper and deeper.

“Going down a rabbit hole” is when you start out doing something, and then completely lose focus in another direction. You decide you’ll harmlessly watch one or two videos (yeah right), unwillingly get sucked into Youtube’s gravitational pull, and by the time you look up, you’re watching giraffes making a blueberry cobbler with Martha Stewart.

That very thing happened to me last week (the losing focus part, not the giraffe video part).

I was getting some quality work done, like a responsible business owner should, when I decided that the living room would allow me to supercharge my productivity.

Huge mistake. I blatantly lied to myself.

Turns out, the couch was not an ideal place to work. I ended up playing with the cat, watching 8 clips of episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast, making myself a sandwich, checking my emails 158.7 times, and generally doing everything but working on the task at hand.

The last email check got me. I realized how silly I was being and slowly but surely got back on track.

Even though it is one of the most frequently cited keys to success, staying focused until you’ve finished working can be incredibly difficult for most of us.

As your brain gets exposed to an ever expanding and constant stream of external stimuli and more sources in your environment battle for your attention, keeping yourself from getting off task is tougher than giving your cat a cold bath without getting scratched.

Good luck with that…

So how exactly do you stay focused long enough to build your Hello Kitty chocolate bar empire?

That’s an excellent question.

I’m glad you asked.

Here are the most helpful techniques you can deploy to stay on task when you’re unmotivated, and how to regain your focus after you’ve lost it.

Concentrate on how much better life will be once you’ve accomplished the task

Think about things you currently deal with each day that you hate.


Your coworker who always smells like feet.

Choosing between gas money or food for your kids.

Those are all powerful motivations in disguise. If you’re losing your desire to get things done, create a list of your 5 biggest frustrations, and keep them visibly next to your work station at all times.

This will serve as a powerful reminder of what you can get rid of if you stick to your guns, get things done, and start accomplishing more to bring yourself success.

Get up and move around

If you feel yourself losing energy while working, you might literally be tired.

Sometimes your body and brain need a bit of a simulation and a hard reset. The best way to do that?

Ooh. I like that…

Anyway, moving around and getting exercise before or in between periods of work is insanely beneficial for 2 primary reasons:

1. It improves your ability to think clearly. Your brain loves when you exercise. It helps stimulate the release of chemicals that help you form new brain cells, and keep the current one’s healthy. If you’re not getting enough exercise, count on your cognitive performance suffering big time.

2. It breaks up the monotony. Sometimes, work can be boring. Exercise can provide a physical break from the task at hand and allow your mind and body to reset.

Building a company means dealing with contracts, hiring, policy documents and emails.

So many emails…

A good way to break out of the boredom that can accompany these tasks is through lite exercising. I suggest at minimum taking a 10 minute walk. This can be around your house, to the end of the street and back, or even powering up a few flights of stairs.

The point is that you need to periodically move more than just your eyes and fingers.

Personally, I also enjoy doing a few pull ups, push ups, or lunges to get the inspirational and creative juices flowing.

Make sure you find what works for you.

Stop procrastisnacking so much

This one’s huge, but subtle.

We’ve all been guilty of using food as an excuse to take an unnecessary break.

Shame on us…

Despite that chips and salsa calling your name from the kitchen, most people’s bodies don’t need a snack every hour.

Procrastisnacking is at an all time high and doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. My suggestion?

Get a water bottle.

Make it a big one too. Think 24 ounces or more. While you’re working, keep it within arm’s length of your work station or computer (just don’t spill).

Why you might ask?

A. It keeps you hydrated, which is going to give you more energy and keep you alert.

B. It will also help to curb your hunger attacks and keep you on track.

You don’t have to let procrastisnacking win. Figure out your ideal eating schedule as well, and plan meals around periods of work so that you’ll always have enough nutrition to keep you moving along.

Get reacquainted with your goals

It’s a rare occurrence, but sometimes you need to pay attention to and assess your lack of motivation.

It could be a sign that your work isn’t meaningful and that you’re just going through the motions.

If this is the case for you, taking a goal mapping break should do the trick.

When you’re feeling this way, stop what you’re doing and take out your journal, a piece of paper, a slab of granite and chisel, it doesn’t matter.

Write down your most significant goal and desired outcome for the future.

Then write down 5 ways in which what you’re currently doing will lead to the development of that. If you can’t come up with anything, then you’re way off base.

Even boring emails can have purpose if they are beneficial to your business.

From there, write down how you can shift your focus or what new processes you need to create in order to get closer to that primary goal.

After you’ve figured that out, You’ll have a lot less trouble staying focused. I promise.

Obey the 3 tab rule

This is one of my north stars of staying productive and getting things done. Especially when i’m feeling unmotivated.

In order to stay focused and maximize your effectiveness, it is crucial that you implement this one rule.

No more than 3 tabs at a time.

I’m talking about web browsers folks, not drugs…

Part of this rule involves your understanding of the fact that despite you thinking that you’re multi tasking, you’re really not.

Your brain can’t actually do that. Science says so.

What’s really going on is what’s known as rapid attention switching. Or in other words, not fully focusing on any one thing and spreading out your potential effectiveness between multiple objectives.

Bad idea.

Get one thing at a time done. Then switch tasks. Keep it to 3 tabs or less.

Hi. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it!

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PS…..are you a business owner looking to grow your website traffic and inbound leads?

Start by downloading your FREE copy of my WordPress SEO guide that I use to grow my own company or get in touch with my content marketing and SEO agency. We’ll take care of ya.

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The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

Ken Marshall

Written by

Founder @ Best Freelancer Tools. Every tool, software, and resource you need to win at freelancing. Period. Check us out:

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

Ken Marshall

Written by

Founder @ Best Freelancer Tools. Every tool, software, and resource you need to win at freelancing. Period. Check us out:

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

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