Back by popular demand, today's blog post is going to be all about how to get motivated and stay motivated, when you're just not feeling it! This topic is ringing true for me this week as I face the dreaded pile of 20-page essay's I have to write within a one week deadline. Yes, you read that right, two 20-page papers, one week. It's safe to say my procrastination level has been working on overdrive this week and my level of motivation is at an all-time low. As I'm currently in the midst of completing my Masters degree, I find that some week's are better than others in terms of my general level of motivation to complete everything. Between work, school, and trying to scavenge together any sort of social life, its only natural that our motivation level tends to reach their peak and quickly fall thereafter.
Believe it or not, before writing this post, I spent 6 hours straight writing a literature review on general anxiety disorder and as soon as I clicked "save", I immediatly wanted to write this post too! How were you so motivated, you may ask? Well, our trusty friend, Mr. Procrastination, loves to hit us when we're down, but when Miss. Motivation strikes, she really strikes hard! Now, to be hoenst, I've had 2 weeks to get those essay's done, but I slacked all this week because Mr. Procrastination was all up in my business and convinced me to put it off, one day at a time. Now, that's not to say I sat on my butt and watched re-runs of Friends on Netflix all day, I have additional work to do on top of those essay's, but I still didn't get going with getting those assingments done, which began to slowly but surely cause an increase in anxiety. Personally, I think motivation and anxiety go hand-in-hand sometimes. Without involving too much scientific jargon, there seems to be a positive correlation between low motivation and heightened anxiety. But what can we do about this lack of motivation and how can we work to stay motivated throughout the day, or even, throughout the week? Below, I am going to outline a couple of tips and tricks that might help you get motivated and work to keep you motivated throughout the day or week. Follow these steps, and you'll be golden! (At least, I hope! haha!)
Tip 1: Set SMART goals
SMART goals don't literally mean, set goals that aren't dumb, but insetad they stand for Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, and within a Time-frame. This differs from basic goal-setting by creating goals that are specific to your needs, measurable to where you can notice a difference being made, achieveable and realistic based on your current abilities, and completed within a particular time-frame. SMART goal-setting is a concept within many psychology practices and more specifically, within a counselling setting! For example, let's say you want to lose 10lbs and your goal is "I'm going to lose 10lbs in one month and cut out all bread, sugar, and dairy from my diet!". Now, just by reading that a couple questions go through your head, (1) how are you planning to shed those 10lbs?, (2) when are you planning to start this?, (3) "are you really not going to eat any bread, sugar, or dairy for a whole month?" Now, use SMART goal-setting: "I'm going to lose 10lbs in 3 months by going to the gym at least twice a week and cutting out bread, sugar, and dairy from my diet at least twice a week." Now, your goal is specific, measurable, achieveable, realistic, and within a time-frame that suits you and your lifestyle. By doing this, your more likely to be motivated to complete your goal AND stay motivated because you'll most likely see results. When goals are not realistic or achieveable to you and your lifestyle, you'll most likely experience the effects of failure, which work counterproductively to what you set out to do in the first place.
Tip 2: Get organized and stay organized!
Getting organized may sound simple, but staying organized is tackling an entirely new beast. When you're organized, you are more parpared to tackle a task and more inclined to start working and stop procrastinating. It may sound cliché but making a to-do list acts as a reminder and gives you encouragement as you check things off. Also, if your desk at work is a disaster, go to Staples, buy some office organization supplies, and make your space clean and organized. The brain lacks the ability to work in clutter because your attention is easily diverted towards distractions that may lie in wait. But, by cleaning the space and putting everything in it's rightful spot, our brain is more receptive to getting on task, and most importantly, staying on task. Also, establish a routine to ensure that you STAY organized. After you complete your work day, shut off your computer, put your pens/pencils back in their container, stack your loose papers at the end of your desk, turn off the light, and shut the door. Not only does this bring an end to your work day, but it allows the brain to shut down that part of itself so you leave work, at work. Also, when you come back in the morning, you are greeted with yet another clean and ready workspace!
Tip 3: Take frequent breaks
Now, as much as I would like to hop on a plane every month and chill on a beach with a piña colada in my hand, that's not really realistic (setting SMART goals haha!). Instead, break up your work into peices and take a short break in between. If you have a test to study for and feel overwhelmed at the idea that you have to spend X amount of time studying, study for one hour, take a 30 minute break. Repeat this until you're done and you'll feel more rested and retain more information. Also, we are more motivated to work when we are given an incentive to continue working. For example, if you have an entire day of household chores to do, break up your chores by allowing yourself a 30-minute break to watch a new episode on your favourite Netflix show or chat with your friend on the phone. When we have something to look forward to at the end, we're more likely to be motivated to get things done.
Tip 4: Practice self-care
What is self-care? Well, it is exactly what it says, taking care of yourself. This is a hard thing to do for a lot of people, as life and work get in the way and thats when we tend to make excuses for ourselves like "i'm too tired", "i have so much left to do", or "i'm just not in the mood". But taking the time for yourself can be beneficial for your ability to get motivated and stay motivated! Whether that is pampering yourself with a manicure, going to the gym, meeting up with friends for coffee, or enjoying a hobby, self-care is essential for both your physical and mental well-being. It also gives us a break in between a busy day and allows our brain to reset before we continue to tackle a new task.
Tip 5: Celebrate your accomplishments!
The feeling you get when you finally finish that exam, those house chores, or for me, that annoying 20-page paper, is one of the best feelings humanly experienced! But, a lot of the time, we fail to celebrate those accomplishments in a way that encourages us to tackle our next project. By celebrating a job well done, you are acknowledging that you have worked hard and you deserve a little celebration for it. This allows you to let your hair down, get out of the house (or in the house if that's more your cup of tea), and just have some fun. Life doesn't always have to be so stressful and serious and celebrating every moment allows you to stay more motivated over time and deliver a sense of encouragement for when your next project comes sneaking around the corner.
I hope these tips and tricks help you get motivated and stay motivated, regardless of any task you have to accomplish. Remember, it's natural to want to procrastinate every now and again, but letting it get out of hand can cause more harm then good, both emotionally and realistically. Comment by letting me know if you have used any of these tips and if they've helped with your motivation! Good luck!