You may have read a short article recently that has gone viral comparing the current COVID-19 pandemic to a storm. In the article it states, ” We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.” I thought that comparison was profound and one that rings true. Although we are “in this together” it is hard to truly understand what our friends, neighbors, co-workers, or acquaintances are going through during this unprecedented time. One thing I believe to be true is that we all are feeling an increased level of stress, and in turn, we are likely feeling less motivated to accomplish our goals.
Motivation is defined as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. In some cases, stress can actually motivate you to get something done. For example, if you are feeling stressed due to an important presentation at work you will likely be motivated to work hard to ensure your presentation is flawless. On the other hand, stressful situations which are out of your control, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic can leave you feeling anxious and unmotivated. First and foremost, I want to let you know that it is completely OK and normal to feel anxious and unmotivated now. You may wake up some days feeling great and productive, while other days it seems next to impossible to change out of your PJs. For the days when you just can’t muster the energy and focus to get anything done, it may be helpful to use the tips below to get motivated. I must admit that I used a number of these tactics to get me to write this blog post!
Look the Part
It’s hard to get motivated when you are wearing the same thing you slept in. Even though most of us aren’t venturing out of the house these days or seeing others, it’s important to get yourself ready for the day ahead. Be sure to at least brush your teeth, comb your hair, and put on some fresh clothes. You don’t need to look as great as you would if you were heading off to work or to get together with friends, but it will greatly increase your motivation if you look the part.
Do One Thing
OK, so I completely get that you have many things you need to get done on any given day, especially if you are working from home and/or have children living under your roof. It can be hard to motivate yourself to do anything more than the bare minimum just to get by. Weeks ago I was really focused on increasing my productivity. I kept telling myself that I should use this time wisely and get as much done as possible, however, I felt paralyzed whenever I looked at my never-ending to-do list. I would review it, feel overwhelmed, and then scroll Facebook aimlessly hoping the list would somehow complete itself. What I quickly realized was I was trying to get way too much done each day and I hadn’t identified what the highest priority items were. Each day ask yourself “What is the one thing I want to accomplish today?” Once you identify the one thing, make it your mission to accomplish that goal. If just one thing doesn’t feel like enough select two or three things, but be sure to put them in priority order and focus on one goal at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Break It Down
It can be difficult to find the motivation to start a project when it feels large and complicated. In these circumstances break down the project into small tasks. For example, imagine that you want to organize your master bedroom closet. Ask yourself, “What is one thing I can to do to move this project forward?” In the closet example, you could start by just sorting and organizing your shoes. Just do that next thing and once it’s complete keep asking yourself the same question. Once your shoes are organized you could focus on organizing the folded items on your shelves. Continue working on small pieces of the project until you realize you are done!
Just Five Minutes
I believe that the most difficult part of a task is getting started. Usually worrying about what you have to do and stressing about how hard you think it will be is worse than actually doing it. Tell yourself that you just need to do the task for 5 minutes and once the 5 minutes is over you can decide if you want to continue or quit. Most likely if this is a task that you need to do or really want to do you will continue on after the 5 minutes is up. Remember that momentum plays a great part in motivation, so once you start something it’s much easier to stay motivated than if you haven’t started at all.
Don’t break the chain
This tactic works well for anything you want to do frequently such as exercising or getting your 9-year-old son to read for 30 minutes (who knew this would be so hard?). Post a blank calendar somewhere that you will see throughout the day (fridge, bathroom mirror, etc.). Mark the calendar with a big X on the day that you actually exercised (even if it was for 5 minutes) or completed your task. As you start marking more X’s on your calendar you will feel compelled to keep the momentum going, and the thought of breaking the chain will keep you motivated. You can use this tactic for a number of different tasks by creating a spreadsheet or just placing different symbols on your blank calendar to represent the completion of each task. Also, this tactic works well with the next one of rewarding yourself.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to practice self-care and not be too hard on yourself. Many things we used to look forward to such as going out to dinner, seeing friends, or going to the movies is currently not possible. Make sure you reward yourself by spending enough time each day doing something you enjoy. If you are constantly working and trying to be productive you will become burnt out and your motivation will be zapped. Oftentimes when my important tasks are done for the day and my kids are either asleep or occupied it takes me a while to figure out what I want to do with my free time and before I know it, it’s gone. I recommend keeping a list somewhere of your favorite free-time activities and pulling from that list when you feel due for a reward.
Ask a friend or colleague to be your accountability partner. Check-in with each other to share what you each want to accomplish and then set a time to check-in on your progress. For example, if it’s Saturday morning and you have 4 loads of laundry to wash, fold and put away let your friend know that your goal is to finish it all by 5 pm. Your friend can share her goal with you as well. Plan to check in with each other at the designated time to see how you both did. Depending upon the task you can even take it a step further and text your accountability partner a picture of your progress in the middle of the project or once it’s complete. It will motivate you both to get things done!
I hope that some of the tips above were helpful to you. As a productivity consultant and professional organizer, staying motivated is something my clients (and I) struggle with from time to time, so you are not alone. If you need some accountability and guidance to get a project done please feel free to reach out to me to discuss. I am offering free virtual consultations through May 31, 2020, and would love to connect with you! I can be reached by phone or text at (267) 970-0769 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to being in touch!
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