Feeling lethargic and slow? Can’t seem to get started on that presentation due this Friday? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Studies show that the habit of putting things off has justifiable psychological roots. Author Frances Booth even tries to trace the common reasons behind procrastination.
Booth explains that sometimes, putting off your work is just the most reasonable thing to do. If you don’t find yourself identifying with the more severe cases of procrastination, then it may just be a matter of getting yourself up on your feet and motivating yourself to start doing things again.
There isn’t one surefire way to get motivated. Different people respond to different stimuli in a number of ways. However, there are a few rules that majority of people can benefit from. We’ve listed down some of them here:
1. Set Goals
Goals are key motivators. If you want to achieve a certain objective, you’re more likely to devote yourself to what you’re doing. Having something to look forward to especially if you’re really intent on getting it, pushes you to keep moving forward everyday.
At the same time, make sure to have a specific plan that comes with achieving your goals. As one top motivational speaker Stephen Covey says, “Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” Staying grounded in a realistic schedule helps track your progress and saves you from beating yourself up over unrealized plans.
The human body may be durable, but it won’t be able to perform its best if it’s worn out. You can’t give the same amount of effort you did at the end of the day compared to when you were still fully rested. Give yourself time to recharge and relax before getting back to work. Your body will thank you for it. Sleep alone already has numerous benefits – it gives you time to rebuild minor physical damage, replenish your energy bank, and prepare you for the day ahead.
Taking a break also doesn’t always mean taking a nap. Engaging in recreational activities like acquiring a new hobby or getting into sports for fun can help take your mind off things. Sometimes taking a step back from everything gives you a fresh perspective and new insight. Spend some alone time and get to know yourself better with meditation, or go out and have dinner with friends – these can also help recharge your mind.
3. Take What You Can
A common problem with overly enthusiastic people is their tendency to bite more than they can chew. Somehow, productivity has become synonymous with quantity, rather than quality. But the numbers can be overwhelming, and the anxiety it gives can seriously paralyze you in your efforts to get anything done.
If you want to progress, weigh the pros and cons of every task you’re committing yourself to. Make sure you’ll be able to give 100% of your attention to it. Otherwise, leave it for the next person to claim. Trying to do too much at once is a counterproductive strategy that pulls you two steps back instead of forward.
4. Leave Room for Improvement
Similar to the previous tip, perfectionism is another cause of progress paralysis. Health Day’s Odette Pollar notes that while perfectionism is often associated with a keen eye and good output, it’s actually very stressful for the person experiencing it. In a world that constantly pushes for ‘perfect’ output, this behavior seems necessary.
But, as Pollar points out, “Perfectionism and a pursuit of excellence are not the same thing.” Always give your best efforts, but when it’s over and done with, learn to step back and say I did what I could. There will always be room for improvement, and that’s fine. Mistakes are the spaces that help you grow, and learning to accept and embrace them are part of the process.
5. Challenge Yourself
Lack of motivation can also partially stem from too few challenges. Once something becomes routine, it can get boring. You’ll be more likely to put something off if you’re no longer interested in it. However, a new twist can pique people’s interests and get them to engage with the challenge.
Fictionist Robert Heinlein advices one generation to the next: “Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.” Find creative ways to do things, constantly innovate, reinvent, and challenge your surroundings for a more fulfilling and productive life.
6. Look Back on Your Progress
Sometimes people don’t go any further because they feel stuck. Their time and effort feels wasted on something that they may have spent days, years, and even their entire lives on, to no avail. But the truth is, they have improved, they just don’t see it. Looking back on your progress is a great way to motivate yourself to keep going, especially when everything feels hopeless.
Remind yourself that you’ve moved so much further than where you started out in the beginning of your journey. Trace your growth from a few weeks ago to the present, and notice the changes. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or immediate. In ResumesPlanet editor Daisy Atwood’s words, “The most substantial changes rarely happen overnight. They take time to develop their strong foundations.”
7. Start a Routine
Once something becomes second nature to you, you won’t even know you’re doing it. This can also be applied to motivation. Start the day off with a few morning rituals before setting out for work or class. You can choose to exercise, read a book, take a shower, or simply stroll outside to clear your head of self-doubt and anxiety, and mentally prepare you for work.
This last point shows that aside from being applicable in developing a habit of motivation, routines also make it easier to get through the day. Following a regimen helps discipline your body and mind for the day ahead. Hitting the ground running as soon as you get out of bed can be disorienting and stressful. Make it a habit to ease yourself into the day and project a more confident and impressive image.
The Takeaway: Motivation Starts Within
There are a number of ways to motivate yourself, but at the end of the day it still has to start with your personal will to do better. Set realistic goals and constantly challenge yourself to transform a lethargic lifestyle into a productive one. At the same time, don’t forget to recharge and leave room for improvement. You learn as much from the mistakes as you do from the victories.
Make sure to reward yourself for every milestone you’ve fulfilled. It doesn’t have to be grand, just remember to practice self-care. Start a routine to discipline your mind and ease yourself into the day before setting out with your tasks.
You don’t need to push yourself to your physical and mental limits just to be able to do something everyday. You only need to make a few adjustments in your outlook and lifestyle to get started.