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How To Prevent Your Next Productivity Boost From Eventually Losing Steam

Source | FastCompany : By ART MARKMAN

Some days you work at your best, other days you just don’t. Your good days probably outnumber your bad, but chances are you know how it feels to really slog through work inefficiently. That’s why lots of us try productivity hacks and strategies in the first place. And a lot of the time, they work—at least for a little while.

But they tend to wear off. The most truly productive people manage to make progress on their most important goals consistently. And while there are multiple reasons why, psychological research on motivation suggests a few steps you might be able to take to not just boost your productivity but hang onto it—depending on the way you already view your work.


Most of the time, people motivate themselves by focusing on a particular goal. Important goals create motivation because people value the outcome of achieving them. They contrast where they are right now with where they’d like to be, and that creates energy to get to work.

It doesn’t always last, though. That’s because your motivation is project-based—you’re engaged in your work mainly because this or that individual project is important. This tends to make you more enthusiastic at the start of a project, because it’s new and the reasons for doing it are fresh in mind. But then you hit a wall. Toward the middle, your motivation wanes. It can be hard to see that you’re making progress toward the goal, and the goal that once seemed so desirable may feel distant and less important.

This is the period that few productivity strategies successfully address. If you’re thinking of your work as projects, you need a technique that doesn’t try to pry you out of that mind-set—which usually will only cause more mayhem. Instead, create sub-goals, mini “projects” that can help you track your progress on the bigger one. If you look forward to (and celebrate) the completion of those smaller tasks, you may have better luck keeping your productivity consistent all the way through.

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