Sometimes you need to get started on a project right away. Maybe you’ve been procrastinating for days, or even weeks, and now you’re down to the wire on an unforgiving deadline. The threat of not completing the job on time should be enough to motivate you to get moving, right? Wrong. Often, even knowing the consequences that exist for not completing a task aren’t enough to push us forward. Fortunately, there are some tangible steps you can take in order to give yourself a boost when your usual routine isn’t working.
Keep reading for some of the best ways to improve your motivation fast. Adding even a few of these to your bag of tricks may help you to overcome that slump when you need a motivational jumpstart.
One way to convince your brain that an activity is worth starting is to look ahead to the end result. Think about the money you’ll make a from a freelance gig, the feeling of satisfaction you’ll get from handing in your portion of the monthly report to a nagging co-worker or the freedom to begin your two-week semester break when your last paper is submitted. No matter what the project, visualizing the result of your efforts can improve your focus and motivation. Consider adding an actual visual such as a photo, magazine clipping or other image to motivate you.
Confession time. This is what got me to put the finishing touches on this series: vacation starts next week and then we jump right into back to school. Get this series done and let it run on auto-pilot while I enjoy time at the beach in the photo on my computer wall paper. (Don't worry I will still be checking comments 😉 )
If you’re feeling sleepy or even restless, you won’t be able to focus on that pressing task. A solution can be to move your body. Exercise has been shown to increase mental clarity and decrease stress, just the combination for working on a complex project with a looming deadline. Taking a brisk walk or heading to the gym for a quick step aerobics class on your lunch hour can be just enough of a jolt to get you in prime thinking mode. Be careful not to overdo it or you’ll be too exhausted to do much of anything.
Walking or stationary cycling often helps me with blog posts. The repetitive action helps me focus and I usually have an outline for the post done by the time I finish.
Take a Rest
It’s also possible that a quick rest can restore your clear thinking. If your brain is feeling cloudy or your thoughts are cloudy, a short nap might be a better course of action than exercise. Put your head down on your desk or stretch out on the sofa in your office for 10 or 20 minutes. When you wake up from this power nap, you should be feeling rejuvenated and ready to work.
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Listen to Music
Upbeat tunes might be a solution that leads you to start tapping your toes and feeling more alert. If you are able to work with background noise, you can keep the music going. Perhaps changing to a mellower playlist or instrumental songs might be a better option for you than fast beats. If you require silence in order to concentrate, put on just a few of your favorites to shift your mood, and then get to work.
A method that is often successful in tricking the mind to move on a task is to start with a small portion of the whole. Using the above example of the monthly report, you might wish to begin by gathering your data and other supplies necessary for completing the job. This small action can put you in the right mindset to keep working on the rest. Getting started truly is half the battle.
These suggestions can, and should, be tailored to fit your personality, preferences and lifestyle. Experiment a bit. Use the ones that work for you, and throw out the rest. You’ll likely be surprised by the significant effect a simple action can have on your productivity.
Put it into Action
How can you use some of these strategies to tackle your to do list? Do you have any other tricks you like to use to get motivated quickly? Let me know in the comments below.