There are days where you seem to have an unending supply of motivation and then there are days where you simply cannot find the drive to get things done. While you will always have your ups and your downs, you can set yourself up to have as many motivated and productive days as possible by learning to balance your daily victories effectively.
The Psychology of Progress
Whenever you accomplish something meaningful, your outlook almost always inevitably brightens. Suddenly reaching a milestone or finishing a project has made the rest of your day feel more manageable and maybe even that impossible, looming task doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. Harvard researches call this phenomenon the ‘progress principle.’ They found that, “of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”
The good thing about this principle is that it applies to even little victories. So, whether you clear your inbox, call a client, or finish an ongoing project, you can benefit from the positive impact of making progress.
Starting Your Day Off Right
Based on this insight, it is a good idea to start every day with at least one or two small victories. Rather than starting your day off working on the complex, ongoing project – which you’re liable to put off as long as possible by checking your social media or having that second cup of coffee – you should work on a couple simple tasks that you can accomplish quickly. Doing this, you’re less likely to dread starting work, and the feeling of accomplishment will help motivate and prepare you to tackle the bigger projects.
Another added benefit is that with a few small tasks removed from your plate, your day will likely feel less overwhelming. You will be able to focus better on the task at hand since you are less likely to waste time worrying about what else you have to get done.
A Balancing Act
Balance is crucial when planning your daily victories. Filling your morning with victory after victory may give you the faulty feeling that you have accomplished enough for one day, or it may even give you a burnt out feeling. Both of these scenarios will almost inevitably result in a dip in productivity. For this reason, it is often unwise to complete all of your smaller and easier tasks first while planning on working on that bigger project later. Not only will you have that big project looming over your head all day, but you will also be more likely to put it off until the next day if you feel like you have done enough for one day.
Not every day is going to go as you plan, and there will be days where you feel like all you accomplish are setbacks. Still, if you write your daily to-do list with the concept of balancing your victories in mind, you will be setting yourself up to be as productive as possible.