It’s time for our second round of tips for increasing motivation.
- Manage your to-do list
It’s tough to feel motivated and get things done when your to-do list is overwhelming. If you feel like there is no hope in getting it all done, you might feel so unmotivated that you end up doing nothing at all.
If you haven’t already, try writing down all the things you feel that you need to do. How long is the list? Are there some things that aren’t essential right now? Can you prioritise what is the most important? Or can you make separate ‘must-do’ and ‘to-do’ lists to help you prioritise your tasks? Some tasks might need to be done right away, whereas others can probably wait for a few days, when you are feeling less busy.
Exercise doesn’t need to last for hours, and sometimes you don’t even need to schedule it into your day at all. When it comes to exercise, it can be easy to forget that you can fit 5-minute bouts into your daily life. Fit in a few minutes of star jumps whilst the kettle boils, a quick walk around the block whilst the rest of the family are in bed or stand up 10 times every time you receive an email. When you are feeling short on time, and overwhelmed with your to-do list, it can be a good idea to break up your exercise time, and these few minutes might be enough to help you to feel good too!
- Practice self-care
Sleep-deprivation, a poor diet and lack of leisure time (AKA FUN!) are just some of the things that can make getting through the day more difficult.
Creating a healthy self-care plan can allow you to take care of your mind and body alongside helping you to feel more motivated too.
Some healthy habits that may help you to take better care of yourself:
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink water and eat a healthy diet
- Make leisure time more fun
- Use healthy coping strategies to deal with stress
- Avoid unhealthy habits such as binge eating and drinking too much alcohol
All of these healthy habits reflect MIND’s Five Ways to Wellbeing. It should come as no surprise that increased feelings of wellbeing are closely linked to increased feelings of motivation.
- Be active
- Take notice
- Reward yourself
Taking the first step and persuading yourself to get a task done can be harder than it seems sometimes. You’ve done a great thing and should be proud of your achievement, whether it was starting a new task, getting through a tough patch or finally finishing something you have been meaning to do for a while. It is important that we recognise the times that we have done well and reward ourselves for our achievements. You might find that if you know a reward is coming, you are more likely to get the task done too!
For example, if you have a long paper to write for a deadline, you might tackle it by taking a 10-minute break every 500 words, or going out for a drink with friends when you have completed it. If you are looking for motivation to get active, you might find it helpful to have a good dinner to look forward to when you get home, or set 30 minutes aside after your workout to relax in the bath. (Just make sure your rewards do not sabotage your efforts.)
For some, small and regular rewards work best for motivation, whereas others prefer having something bigger to look forward to at the end of a task. Find what works best for you.
- Keep yourself accountable
Sometimes you lack motivation when the stakes are unclear. You might set off down one path, lose focus, and then start down another path instead.
‘Why can’t I stick at anything?’
This happens to us when we are only relying on internal motivation. Some people can work well under this kind of motivation, whereas others need some form of external motivation to get them through a task – something or someone outside of themselves to keep them accountable.
A common example of this is a workout partner. If you are someone that struggles to find motivation to workout, working out with somebody else is a great way to increase that motivation. If you know that someone is relying on you to do something, (especially if it’s a 7am exercise class!) you are more likely to do it because you don’t want to let them down.
Even if you don’t have a workout partner, there are other ways for you to create external motivation. You could hire a coach or personal trainer to keep you accountable, or you could tell someone else that you are going to do it. These people are your cheerleaders; they want the best for you and will understand how important a task is to you. Friends and family can also be great at ‘calling you out’ when they know that you are not doing the things you say you want to achieve.
- Seek self-help
If your motivation remains low for a few weeks, and you have done your best to try and get out of it, it’s always best to seek professional help, especially if your lack of motivation is affecting your daily life. This lack of motivation could be the sign of something more serious, so it’s always better to get it checked out if you are worried. Your GP may want to rule out any medical conditions that may be affecting your energy or mood.
Remember to take care and be kind to yourself. Try out some of these tips and let us know how you get on.