Ok, so I am probably one of the least qualified people to write on this topic, as lack of motivation is something that I fight with ALL.TOO.OFTEN. On the other hand, maybe that actually makes me qualified to write on it after all, since hey, the below are things I’ve had to figure out and am telling myself on a regular basis to get my butt into gear!
Following are a few suggestions (that I personally have used on myself) to help get motivated when I have no motivation whatsoever. I hope some of them can help you as well!
1. Do something, anything.
That’s it. Just do something. It really doesn’t matter what it is, but if it can get you off the couch, or out of bed, or off your computer, or anything just to get you up and started, then perfect!
Start small and pick only one tiny thing that needs to get done. Commit to only that one thing. If that one thing inspires you to do something else, well, then by all means, follow through with the momentum and keep doing stuff! But if after doing that one tiny thing, you just can’t bring yourself to do anything else just yet, don’t push it. Otherwise you’ll never be able to convince yourself again in the future to do just one thing. 😉 You can always see if some of the other things listed help get you back up to do something else.
2. Reward yourself.
Can you think of something that’d you’d really rather be doing right now? Other than the obligations you should you should be doing? If what you really want to do is holding you back from what you really should be doing (and depending on the practicality of what you want to be doing), try offering yourself that want-to-be-doing activity as a reward for completion of the should-be-doing activity.
Or offer the reward to yourself in chunks. If you do the dishes, then you can read your magazine for 10 minutes. Or after you call and deal with the insurance company, you can go outside and sit in the sun for a little bit. If you have a young child in tow, while your rewards might be more limited, try offering yourself a reward your child can participate in as well. Instead of going outside yourself, walk down the street to the park and sit in the sun there, for example. You know yourself and your situation best; choose a feasible, small reward that works for you. Even if the reward seems silly or unequal in comparison to the small task you’re getting yourself to do, hey, the goal here is to get yourself up to do ANYTHING. Whatever it takes! Since most of the time, the hardest part is getting up and getting started, whatever it takes to get your started deserves to be rewarded!
3. ‘Journal’ out an exhaustive to-do list.
For myself, the times when I’m the least motivated are often because I’m the most overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. So the thought of even getting started on something seems so impossible because I just don’t know where I should begin. When this happens, I found that my best plan of attack is journal/vent out a to-do list.
To do this, I sit down (or you could stand up and pace, I guess it doesn’t really matter, as long as you can write) with a notebook and just start writing, in bullet form, everything that I either need to or want to get down. I write the tasks down as I think of them; there is no structure or order to the tasks. Some of the tasks don’t need to be completed with any urgency and are just things I’d like to do someday (i.e. organize the baby clothes in the garage) and other things need to be completed today (i.e. figure out what to make for dinner). But it doesn’t really matter. I just write down EVERYTHING that I can think of.
Once I have everything down on paper, I usually feel like a small weight has lifted off my shoulders, as now I no longer have the additional responsibility of trying to keep all my obligations sorted in my head.
If you want, and if you like that sort of thing, once you have your huge list, you can prioritize it, or transfer it to another form. For myself, I just keep the whole thing (when I make these lists, they are usually quite a few pages long) and flip through it to find something small I can do now. Then, when one task is done, I’ll cross it off, and start on another. I usually keep these master list around for weeks at a time, or until I’ve accomplished most of the important get-done-now stuff. By that time, I’m either ready to make another huge master list, or I’m not feeling as overwhelmed.
If you’re a person who likes planners or schedulers (and will actually use them!) then here is a great list of online To Do List websites. 20 Best Online To Do List Apps for Freelancers The only site/app on this list that I have personal experience with is Todoist. I actually really like the simplicity of Todoist and like how I can organize my whole to-do list into smaller projects or categories. When I’m feeling organized, Todoist is always open in my browser so that I can add tasks as I think of them.
Another great resource I’ve found is The Confident Mom. While there are plenty of online household management printable, the Confident Mom offers a really great FREE weekly household planner here. What’s so nice about this planner is that she lists suggestions of things to accomplish each day. Things like “wipe out that microwave” or “change the kitchen towels”, so that overall household tasks seems broken down into much, much, smaller chunks that an actually be accomplished each day/week. (Unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve followed my own advice and used her planner as much as I should…but it’s something that I’m working on getting better at and I still think it’s such a great resource and that others would get a lot of use out of too).
4. Do something nice for others.
This was a last-minute add-in. If you’re lacking motivation, try doing a random act of kindness. Why? Why not? It would be something different, something exciting, and hey, it still accomplishes the goal of at least doing something, anything. And it might not only inspire YOU to have motivation, but it might also inspire the person you helped to pass on the kindness.
For example, just this morning, while I was working on this blog post from Starbucks (my husband watched our daughter for a few hours so I could get out of the house), I overheard a couple of young guys at the next table working on some Algebra homework. The Algebra teacher in me perked up and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. It sounded like they were struggling. I was about finished with what I was working on anyway, so I stopped by their table and said
“Hi. Excuse me, and you can totally tell me to go away, but I’m an Algebra teacher and it sounded like you guys were having some trouble – would you like some help?” They said sure, and I spent the next 15-20min. working with them on some math.
Who knows if my mini tutoring session will help them in the long run or not, but they thanked me, and if anything, it made me feel like I did something good. And it totally inspired me to come home and do something, anything else. Talk about a motivation booster!
5. Don’t beat yourself up.
If you start falling behind or have a bad day, try to remember that every day is a new day and you can start again tomorrow. Letting yourself beat yourself up over what you feel are your failures will only make you feel worse and have even less motivation tomorrow!
I’m sure there’s many more ways to motivate yourself when you have no motivation, but the above are ways that I personally use and continue to use. Leave a comment with any other suggestions you have or strategies you’ve used. Maybe I will eventually update this post with additional reader suggestions!