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The Practical Guide to Breaking Out of a Funk

by Sean Ogle | Last Updated: August 21, 2014

Photo is the view from my run this morning…that’s worth waking up for.

If I’m being totally honest, for the last few weeks I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong, or bad. In fact, things have never been better with my both my business and personal life.

The problem is I’m just lacking the motivation to do much of anything.

I wake up and do the same routine that for the past few weeks has looked like this:

I’ve fallen back into a trap that I’ve been very proud to have broken out of for the most part, and that’s sitting in front of my computer because I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do – even if I’m not getting much done.

Now none of this is really a cause for alarm, as it happens a few times a year (like in January)- usually after a big come down. Between WDS and our anniversary promotion, I gave myself some time to just chill – but now I’m finding it hard to get back into all of the habits I usually find both enjoyable and productive.

This post is a reminder for myself and for how to break out of a funk. It’s all stuff I subconsciously know, but I felt that I really needed to write it out in order for things to truly click.

1) Change of Scenery

When all is said and done, I’ll have traveled for a grand total of about 3 months this year – which is way more than the average person does. Yet, since I bought my house, I’ve found that I’m spending more time working here at my house, as opposed to all of the other places I used to often go: Coffee shops, cafes, golf courses etc.

The past couple weeks I really haven’t gone out much since I’ve been both working on the house quite a bit.

It’s that change of scenery that helped kick me out of my funk in January, and it’s what I believe will help now. Over the next month I’ll be spending 10 days in Bend, and two weeks in Scotland, which should be just the refresh I need to get re-motivated.

That being said, you don’t have to fly around the world to bust out of your slump, often a simple change in your working environment can go a long way. I think it’s time to head down to Starbucks…

2) Focus on Basic Personal Habits

To kickstart your creative juices and positive habits, often the easiest way to start is with personal habits.

Things like making sure you’re flossing everyday, drinking lots of water, and exercising is a great example of this.

I notoriously dont drink as much water as I should. However if I have one glass, it makes me want to have another, and another. This translates to wanting to do good, productive things in other aspects of my life as well. It’s usually the days that I drink 8 glasses of water and go for a run, that I also tend to get the most work done, and waste the least amount of time in front of a computer.

3) Don’t Force It

Trying to force yourself to work is a terrible idea. For me it just leads to more pressure and frustration to get stuff done. The last couple weeks I’ve been trying to force it, when I should recognize what’s happening, head to the golf course, and not feel guilty about it.

Sometimes it takes just one day of not even thinking about work to get you back in the game – unfortunately I haven’t allowed myself to do that.

4)  Focus on One Task – Not the Whole List

Much of the guilt comes from my inbox that has been piling up. I can always maintain my stuff, but when I feel guilty for not responding to readers and friends it makes the guilt worse. By recognizing that’s where much of the stress comes from, I could bang out emails, and not worry about the rest until I’ve regained my mojo.

For you, pick the one task that is causing the most stress, and just get that done. Don’t worry about the rest.

Yesterday I had a handful of errands that I’d been putting off for weeks, it was amazing how just getting that done made me feel better.

This leads in to number 5 well…

5) Do Something Productive that Isn’t Work

As with the positive personal habits, by focusing on things that are still productive (but might not be construed as work), I get even more motivated to continue the productivity streak.

Over the weekend I repaired some shingles on the house and hung some shelves we’d been wanting to hang for awhile, with each finished project I became even more motivated to start and finish the next.

Even writing this post, has me thinking about what I can do next to keep the feeling going.

It often just takes one positive action to cause a tidal wave of further actions.

6) Break the Routine

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been following more or less the exact same routine for the last couple weeks. After awhile the internet searching and slacking off just becomes the thing you’re supposed to do.

If this is happening, mix it up. Wake up and instead of throwing on sweats and a pot of coffee, go for a run. Or in my case, I could hop in the shower and go down to a coffee shop to work, where I have fewer distractions.

7) Internet Sabbatical

I think this is a big one that I’ve honestly never really done for any serious amount of time.

I think for myself, and many of us, the nature of these funks is due to our reliance and ease of the internet. It becomes the ultimate time kill, and we get caught checking the same sites on our phones and computers dozens of times a day.

To take a few days and completely disconnect from the internet and just focus on writing, planning, or playing is probably the best thing you could do for your mindset.

UPDATE

I wrote this earlier this week, and now it’s 8am as I’m finishing up the post.

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon/evening with my friend and business partner Nick Ramil – who is very rarely in Portland. We checked out some of the finest happy hour spots in town, before bbq-ing out on my deck.

He talked about how every single day, no matter how much he doesn’t want to he wakes up and immediately goes on a 2-3 mile run.

He said I should do the same thing.

Of course I had excuses like “I’ve done that and it just makes me more tired.”

“Did you eat anything?”

“No I don’t usually eat breakfast.”

“Of course you’re tired…idiot. You just used all of your body’s energy.”

Ok, I get it.

So this morning I woke up at 6:30 went for a run, came back and made breakfast, had two glasses of water, and now here I sit, having done the things I’d been struggling to motivate myself to do for weeks.

And the odd part?

It was easy.

I’m not saying I’m totally out of the funk, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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