Do More by Doing Less

Yesterday I was talking with one of my developers, who has been a bit erratic in his work lately.  He’s been vanishing for days at a time, not getting things done.  After talking with him, it became clear the issue was one of motivation.. And how he sometimes completely loses motivation to work.

This has happened to me too, and I suspect it happens to everyone who works independently from home.  Here’s what I learned through experience (and what I suggested to my developer):

One of the biggest causes of demotivation is TOO MUCH work, and not getting things done.  You make a big checklist of things to do for the day, and by the time you’re 2/3 of the way through the day you’ve only done 2 items, with 12 more remaining.  You don’t feel like doing the other items because its too much work and you’re already behind anyways.

This pattern can set in place for days at a time, very easily.  For some people I suspect it can last even longer.

The trick is to do less work each day, especially if you’re really demotivated.  All you need to do is make a list of 2-3 things you can get done that day.  And do them.  And finish the day early.

Then, come back the next day and do 4 things.  Slowly increase the load.  But always make sure you’re scheduling far less things than you think you can actually do.  The important thing is to gain positive momentum, and get things moving forward day by day, and finishing the day on a very positive note, since you accomplished your goals for the day.

This is a form of positive reinforcement, which is talked about in “Don’t Shoot the Dog” (see my review here: