How do you get your motivation back?

feb 17 - recession / creation / mouseHere’s what I’ve been doing since I finished up Laundrysplosion 2010:

[crickets chirp; obligatory tumbleweed rolls by]

Okay, it’s only been a couple of days, and to be fair, those days have been gray and rainy (giving me an excuse for some much needed catching-up with my down comforter).

The first rainy day was quite nice, but after three days, I was starting to get crabby about it: I had stuff to do, that needed to get done, but I couldn’t find it in myself to get up and do it.

Instead, I was frittering my day away (hello, stupid Facebook games!) until suddenly, it was late afternoon, I hadn’t done anything much, I still had no motivation and now I was annoyed/depressed about having wasted most of the day.

So… what sort of little tricks do you employ when you can’t seem to get started?

Do you set a timer for 15 minutes and tell yourself you’ll conquer a chore for at least that long? Do you bribe yourself with a small reward during or after a task? (Self-bribery via potato chips is what got me through several laundromat trips last week.)

Leave your suggestions in the comments below — check in with the gezellig-girl.com Facebook page to see my top picks.

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6 thoughts on “How do you get your motivation back?

  1. Oh, lord. I’m constitutionally lazy, so I’ve had to learn a variety of tricks; patchworking them together will generally allow me to accomplish some percentage of what needs doing.
    The first is listing–what absolutely must get done? It goes on a big legal pad, and if it’s a big chore, it gets analyzed into component tasks–and if I can’t do all the component tasks, I do some (or one) of them, so as to avoid the whole “Ooooh, I don’t have time to get X done” justification. That is to say, when I can’t do everything, I’ll do *something*. But listing can sometimes substitute for actually doing stuff, so I set myself a two minute time limit for making the list.
    The second (and weirdly useful–talismanic, even) tool is a variety of motivational phrases. While “Grip it and rip it” is helpful, “Get off your fat ass” has been one of the most effective.
    I also have to turn the computer all the way off, not just put it to sleep, for large blocks of time. If there’s something I think I need online, I just move on to a task that doesn’t require the ‘net for a while.

    That timer thing works, too.

    1. [I was going to say we could start an organization for the constitutionally lazy like ourselves, but then realized by our very nature, it would never get done.] I should really set myself a time limit for making a list. I love making lists and most of the time they’re invaluable, but I can easily list stuff for ages and sometimes I then look at the massive list(s) and go, oh my frigging god I will never get all this done so just forget it.

  2. Oh, yeah — the timer-for-15-minutes thing is a great one when the house is a mess and I don’t know where to start. I tell myself that I can’t shift focus (if I’m hanging up clothes and putting away shoes, I can’t get distracted by papers, or vice-versa) until I hear the “ding.” Then I reset the timer, either to continue the task or switch to a new one. It’s a great way to keep track of time when it’s limited (say, you have guests coming in two hours and you’re still cleaning AND preparing food). It’s also very rewarding to see how much you can get done in small bites, especially as they add up.

    But for longer or more complex tasks that I really need to gear myself up for — such as writing cover letters for resumes, or doing a blog post (which, ahem, I admit I haven’t done in awhile) — it can be harder. I tell myself I’ve got a nice dinner at a friend’s house to look forward to that night, so I should spend several hours working without feeling isolated or deprived … but it doesn’t always work. (Besides, I know I’m going to go to my friend’s place for dinner whether I get stuff done or not, so it isn’t really a bribe!)

    1. With complex tasks like those, I’ll think of something I’ve been looking forward to doing, but not something that has a hard and fast start time (like dinner at a friend’s house). If it’s something I’m really looking forward to, I find that the enthusiasm for that can spill over into the less pleasant task. For example, if I know a new episode of ‘Doctor Who’ (which I love) will be available to watch online at 6 pm, I can quite gladly get a lot of stuff done before then, although I might not finish the tasks until 7 or 8.

  3. Bribery doesn’t work for me for some reason.

    What does work, sometimes, is pairing task I don’t want to do with something appealing, like listening to podcasts while shoe shopping. Background music/podcasts help me a lot.

    Also playing competitive games with myself can help. Can I whittle this email down to 1 paragraph and still say what I need to? Can I get my round of errands done quicker than ever before? Nerdy but effective. (I partially blame reading the book “Time’s Up!” by Florence Parry Heide as a kid for this).

    Sometimes if I do some trivial tasks first – neatening the work area – it gears me up to do something bigger.

    And sometimes I have to realize when it’s hopeless and be lazy. B/c if I’m that resistant I’ll probably F up the task and have to redo it anyway!

    1. Podcasts are as essential as soap and water when my husband washes dishes, while I have an iTunes playlist of music called Cleaning. I also find that if I put some small/simple tasks on my Things To Do list (“polish nails,” “take out trash,” etc.), it creates a momentum that helps to get the rest of the things done.

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