Motivation can be a tricky thing. When it comes to DIY projects, my motivation to begin them is ceaseless; my motivation to finish them ebbs and flows. And sometimes, when the work day is extra long and I have school projects due the next day, finding the desire to do anything at all is damn near impossible. So when it comes to forging ahead, what can you do to get yourself going? Here are my favorite tips:
Say it with me: It’s OKAY that I’m not feeling very motivated today.
If you take ANY advice from me on this (mini)series whatsoever, I want you to stop giving yourself a guilt trip when you simply can’t find the energy for one. more. thing. It happens to everyone, and it’s totally normal to look at a pile of laundry and think, “No. Just no.”
Giving ourselves grief about the things we’ve yet to do only makes the list look longer. It makes it harder. It serves no functional purpose. But it is so easy to look at our tasks in a negative light. We ignore the things we’ve already done and focus on what’s left. And then we make ourselves feel bad for it. SO STOP IT. I’m no stranger to feeling this way, but I find that when this happens, I am quickly on my way to feeling overwhelmed. I start thinking in more sweeping terms of never and always, which is just as defeating to say it to myself as when I say it to another person (next time you find yourself in an argument, pay attention to how quickly emotions escalate when you use generalities like that).
So stop it. It’s okay to get the “ughs” every now and then. When you accept that it simply happens, it’s easier to pick up where you last left off.
I don’t sleep for a consistent amount of time each night. I wish I could, but on certain days with approaching deadlines, I burn the midnight oil. I’m naturally a night owl and find that I write best when it’s really late and quiet. I have honed procrastinating like nobody’s business (I consider it a skill because not everyone is good under last-minute pressure, and this is sometimes very necessary in the entrepreneurial world I’m trying to enter). But when I’m especially tired, I’ve learned that it’s sometimes better to close the computer instead of trying to keep up. Rebooting is good for me and my computer!
And when it comes to sleep, I’m not a catnapper. (Wait, that makes me sound like a person who steals kittens.) I don’t take naps. At least, not short ones. I have a difficult time falling asleep, but once I do, I’m out. I’ll be down for at least two hours, which is why I usually spend my lunch hour running errands or trying to take care of other things in favor of taking a long nap once I get home at night. It also means that if I have a day off, I give priority one to sleeping. Even if that means every Sunday I’m napping at noon (since the other six days are consumed by work or school). The house and everything else can wait until I feel more refreshed; and I don’t feel guilty!
The point is, I am learning better that stepping away and allowing myself to simply shut down, shut off, etc. is just as much of a part of goal-keeping as actually finishing something. It allows me to recharge and approach my projects with more energy when I wake up, which is actually more efficient than fuzzy-braining it for weeks on end. And keeping my mind clear results in fewer stubbed/broken toes. And fewer wrinkles.
On particularly bad weeks, I look up the latest spa discount on Groupon. No further explanation needed here.
Switch up what’s being exercised.
In some ways, it seems odd to me that exhausting myself physically helps me re-energize mentally, but that’s exactly what happens when I go for a run. Again, I’m disconnecting from the real task at hand, but I’m also creating momentum… literally. I feel more optimistic (probably thanks to endorphins). It’s shown that running helps lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. I try to go for a run the night before any exam – and it really seems to help get the blood flowing for maximum knowledge absorption. Side note: this is doing it wrong.
Even if it’s not school that’s getting me down, running also helps to get me off my butt and out of the house. When I get back afterward, I’m more successful at not sitting down. I almost always work on something after coming home.
Take one step.
Create momentum by starting on a new, simple project that can be completed in an afternoon, like my recent agate slice wall art. I created the art while watching TV, and set it on my chaise in the bedroom until I finished the walls. And then the bright pink color caught my eye every. single. day. I told myself that all I needed to do was just roll that one part of the wall where I knew it would hang, and finish the rest of the wall if I felt like it. Instead, I wound up painting the remaining walls upstairs, crossing off a few more walls from the overall list. Then I hung the art. And now I have something to smile at every day going up the stairs – which inspired me to go out the very next day and begin collecting materials for my next project.
By taking one small step, I created a little momentum and excitement to keep on going. And I got more done than if I had focused on the finish line of getting all of the walls painted.
“It will all be over by __________.”
This is a tip I have used time and time again with school projects. I tell myself, “just think, by next Friday, this will already be done.” It may seem strange to look forward to a deadline, but I find that by trying to focus on the reward (having it DONE and OUT OF MY LIFE) in just a few short days/weeks helps me to stay on task. Instead of a deadline being something that looms over me, it’s my light at the end of the tunnel. Once the deadline has passed, I will either have turned it in or not; and either way, it isn’t likely going to be a life-ender. And then I can hit the spa or grab a beer to celebrate.
So now, it’s your turn. What do you find gets you re-motivated, so to speak? And also, how are you liking this miniseries so far? So many have asked about how I get things done, but I don’t think any one thing I’m doing is cracking some secret code of time management. So here’s your opportunity to give me some honest feedback and let me know if we should stop this train before I get too far off the track :)