We all have those days we had big plans for – we were going to write a blog post and a chapter of our novel, and clean the car – that we ended up spending in our pyjamas, binge-watching shows on Netflix. I mean, sometimes we have whole months like that because motivation can be a fickle thing. Sometimes you’re feeling it, and sometimes you’re just not.
So what do you do when you feel unmotivated but have tonnes of stuff you need, or really want to do? Well, here’s a few tips for dealing with lack of motivation (something I’ve been experiencing quite a bit recently!):
- Try and figure out where your lack of motivation is coming from.
Sometimes we’re just having an off day or week, and just need a bit of downtime, but other times a lack of motivation can have a deeper reason. Perhaps your lack of enthusiasm about carrying out certain tasks stems from a fear of failure or lack of confidence in your own abilities?
Understanding the underlying problem can help you work through it, and get your motivation back!
- Break things up into smaller tasks.
Sometimes our lack of motivation comes down to feeling overwhelmed by what we have to do, and so we avoid it. Therefore it can help to break up bigger tasks into smaller ones so that it feels less scary.
For example, if you’re writing a novel, don’t put it down on your to-do list as ‘write novel’, put it down as, ‘write 500 words of Chapter 4’. That breaks it down into a smaller, more manageable chunk, and you can think of your project for that day as 500 words, as opposed to chipping away at a 90,000 word book.
- Set a timer.
When you really, really don’t want to start work on a task, the easiest thing to do is set yourself a deadline so that you know exactly when you’ll be finished, and free to do whatever you want. For example, often with my writing, when I’m reluctant to start work on what I know is going to be a difficult scene, I just set a timer for 20 minutes, and write as much as I can, until the alarm goes off.
The great thing about this method is that number 1) you know you have a cut off point, which motivates you to get it done now, and number 2) often once you’ve done the initial time limit you’ve got into the flow and want to continue. Starting is the hardest part, so often once you’ve broken through that barrier, you feel more motivated to continue.
- Use a rewards system.
So you really like chocolate cake? Or binge-watching TV shows? Well, use it as a reward!
Often the reason we find ourselves procrastinating when we have a task to complete is because we get distracted by things like Netflix (‘just one more episode and then I’ll do my writing!’) or social media, so it’s actually best to do that after you’ve completed your tasks, and use it as a reward instead of a procrastination tool.
So if you’re a Twitter addict, for example, tell yourself you’re allowed twenty minutes of scrolling, but only after you’ve written your next blog post, or completed your daily word count.
- Go for a walk.
Doing something other than the task you’re unmotivated to do may seem counterproductive, but sometimes I think the best thing you can do is step away from it, and get out of the house for a while. Sometimes I think those sluggish, lazy feelings can be due to having not got out much, and not having enough stimulus, so a nice walk out and about in your neighbourhood can really help.
I also find that when I’m out walking my dog, I do a lot of thinking, and often find myself coming up with loads of new ideas, or finding the answer to a problem I’ve been struggling with for a while. Therefore when I get home, I’m usually excited to get to work!
So how do you deal with feeling unmotivated? Do you have any tips and tricks?