How to Motivate Yourself to Be More Productive

April 17, 2012 Permalink

If I’m one thing, it’s productive.

In fact, yesterday I wrote an entire post lamenting my inability to take some time for myself because I pretty much always think that there’s something better I could be doing; something I could be writing, homework I could be doing, calories I could be burning, blogs I could be commenting on – guys, I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again, shit’s crazy.

Case in point:

I’m frequently asked, by many different people, how I get motivated to do all of this stuff. So I thought I would give you an overview of how I remain motivated and productive from day to day without burning out.

 

Don’t Give Yourself the Option

One of my favourite strategies if I want to get something (or many things) done is that I just don’t give myself the option to not get it done.

I don’t think Well, I could either watch Teen Mom OR do the dishes. I think I can’t watch Teen Mom until I do the dishes. 

Sometimes, admittedly, this is hard. Especially in situations where the task is optional. Doing the dishes isn’t really optional; eventually, it has to get done. However, going to the gym is optional. So in this case, I skip down to the next thing.

Go Through the Motions

With the optionals that I really want to do, I get my motivation up to get them done by prepping myself to do them.

For instance, going to the gym. I’ll be thinking about how I don’t want to go, about how I’d rather be doing something else; I’ll be making excuses in my head and complaining about it to my boyfriend, but as soon as I put on my gym clothes, I get the motivation to go to the gym.

Another example is writing blog posts. I love writing but when I feel obligated? It’s not fun. It’s also optional, so sometimes my motivation wanes. I make sure to sit down, open a new post draft, and set myself up for success by ensuring I have no excuses.

I pour myself a glass of water so I can’t wander away from my draft because I’m thirsty. I make sure my book is in the other room or the TV is off and the remote is out of arms reach. And I just do it.

Envision Your Goal

When my motivation is waning and I’m starting to feel drained, but I still have a lot on my plate, I re-center myself.

I take 5-10 minutes to remind myself why doing that task is important to me. Blogging is important to me because it’s an outlet – it is important to me because I’ve worked my ass off to build this blog to what it is now and I would never want to see that work go to waste; homework is important to me because my education defines my financial future; cleaning the house is important to me because I don’t work well in clutter; exercise is important to me so that I can still enjoy the food I want and remain healthy.

I envision my life without these things and that’s usually enough to get me back on the productivity train. I spend some time envisioning my life if I do these things successfully, in the future, and that really helps me refocus.

Taste Testing Can Add Up

That title is deceiving, but I remember reading in this magazine somewhere that parents of young children are more likely to struggle with their weight because they don’t realize how quickly taste testing/temperature testing/sampling the kids food can add up to a lot of extra calories.

I translate this into productivity. I’ll tell myself that, since I won’t have the energy to do something all at once, I’ll just taste test it – for instance, if I have a 40 page paper to write, I’ll first go to my course website and read the rubric. I’ve taste-tested my task, and then I’ll do something less torturous. Then, I’ll set myself another test-testing limit – I’ll tell myself I only have to do 20 minutes of writing, and then I can take a break.

If you do this for an afternoon (such is my reality as a student), it ends up adding up to quite a bit of time, and quite a bit of productivity.

So, in a nutshell, those are my tips for success. Any others that you can think of? Do you struggle with productivity?

27 Comments
  • Earth and Money
    April 17, 2012

    I think the internet is the greatest deterrent to my productivity. Its so easy to get pulled off on any of a million tangents on the internet, that I can go for an hour or two before I even realize how far away from my actual task I’ve gotten. So I will often go somewhere to work where there is no internet access, and that helps me get stuff done. Of course, when what you want to get done is writing an internet-based blog, that can be problematic :razz:

  • The Happy Homeowner
    April 17, 2012

    I love this post; kudos to you for having a system to help you keep afloat-stumbling along will certainly get you nowhere.

    I give myself working time and break time. When I really get going, I’ll do 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off for anything work/computer/writing/school-related. For fitness, I set running “dates” with my friends so we can socialize and workout at the same time.

    For everything else and general motivation, I create my own version of mood boards filled with inspirational quotes, pictures, marathon bibs, etc. I have one in my office, a picture collage wall in my house, and virtual one on my Pinterest account. Whenever I’m feeling particularly fritzed, I take a breather and look them over. A bit cheesy, but it works every time!

  • Mackenzie
    April 17, 2012

    Envisioning your goal is soooooooo important! If you don’t, you lose the momentum to finish the task in the first place.
    I’m working on losing weight & I’ve done pretty good so far. But if I didn’t have an ending goal weight, I would get frustrated.

  • Poor to Rich a Day at a Time
    April 17, 2012

    Loved this post, although I will admitt I have struggled more as I get older to find that balance of getting things done and taking time off for leisure to renew my batteries or I burn out from being too motivated! Was not so much an issue when I was younger!

  • This Aggie Saves
    April 17, 2012

    I struggle with productivity all the time. I have entirely too many distractions (hello, blogging!) “Just doing it” is the only way I can get it done.

  • Anthony Thompson
    April 17, 2012

    Interesting! Most people with ambition and fortitude are productive. They set targets and deadlines for themselves, work very hard at reaching them, and yet seem to make it all look so easy. This is why we admire them. However, even the most ambitious of us struggle with staying motivated from time-to-time.

    The key to staying motivated is constantly reminding yourself of the alternatives. You either study for the test and get a good score, or don’t study for it and fail. The biggest motivators are those where there is success or failure associated with them. Nice post!

  • AverageJoe
    April 17, 2012

    I’m a do-er, so I don’t have problems with productivity. My problem? Doing the right tasks that will get me furthest ahead. Write a post on that next!

  • From Shopping to Saving
    April 17, 2012

    Hahahha that shit crayyyyyy. Uh yeah, I really needed this post. Thanks D! My motivation is waning since I just got back from a short trip. Those always throw me off. I like to write down notes everywhere when I think of topics for blog posts. For studying, I make sure to get rid of any and all distractions. I also announce it to everyone – like on twitter. I’ll say I’m studying! But that could also be bad… I have to stop my addiction to twitter.

  • Savvy Scot
    April 17, 2012

    I love ‘Taste Testing’. I think this describes exactly how I work. I love to do bits of each project at a time. Blast out intense periods of concentration etc. then move on to something new. – Great Post :D

  • bogofdebt
    April 17, 2012

    I love doing the taste testing when I’m at work! That way I’m breaking my huge project down into itty bitty steps and get a lot more done then I would if I just sat there and tried to do the whole thing.

    For fitness, I’ll make myself get into my clothes and go to the gym or go outside. I find that even if I didn’t want to at the begining, I’ll feel better about it at the end.

  • Young Professional Finances
    April 17, 2012

    I definitely go through the motions (and combined with taste testing I guess) when it comes to going to the gym.
    “Ok fine, I’ll just drive like I’m going home but take the exit for the gym. I can just drive right past it.”
    “Ok so I’m at the gym. I’ll just change in my car and then I can still go home.”
    “Well I’m already in my gym clothes and at the gym, might as well just walk on a treadmill.”
    “Ok I’m walking on a treadmill, guess I could run for a little.”
    And so on. Makes it so much easier!

  • MommaStar
    April 17, 2012

    Totally made my day with that Koala. :mrgreen:

  • Fig
    April 17, 2012

    I so needed to read this today! It’s something I struggle with a lot!

  • Katie
    April 17, 2012

    I love doing the “taste testing” with homework. I feel like I get so much more done when I do things in timed intervals. Way better than sticking with one task all day.

  • Michelle
    April 17, 2012

    I think you are awesome, Daisy! I try to be superwoman, but I think there can only be one. You’re it, girl!

  • Jai Catalano
    April 18, 2012

    Being self employed is tough. Sometimes people ask me if I fall asleep while working from home. I ask them if they sleep at work. Also I gained 16 lbs due to taste testing my kids food. I am now on the insanity program and blog about it daily. The results are very good only 16 days in.

  • MyMoneyDesign
    April 18, 2012

    I think No. 1 “Don’t Give Yourself the Option” is it. Once you mentally force yourself into believing that failure is not an option, you probably won’t! Similarly, I like to make a list and then not stop until the list is done. It is amazing how much you instantly budget your time and prioritize once the tasks are on paper staring back at you.

  • Kylie Ofiu
    April 18, 2012

    Great tips. I find envisioning my goal really helps me be motivated as does a vision board so I can really see it all before me.

  • Country Girl
    April 18, 2012

    I absolutely struggle with motivation and productivity. I’ve got a lazy streak in me that drives me nuts. I’m going to have to try the taste-tasting method. I’ve got lots of different tasks to do and they might not seem so onerous if I tackle them bit by bit.

  • MoneySmartGuides
    April 18, 2012

    I don’t struggle with being productive. I do have my days where I don’t feel like doing anything and I let myself indulge in the nothingness. I justify it because I am so productive all of the other days.

  • Charlotte@EverythingFinance
    April 18, 2012

    I used to do a lot of sitting around watching television until I started blogging. Now between working 10-12 hours a day, reading blogs and writing post, I’m very productive.

  • Karma
    April 19, 2012

    Setting goals and making to-do lists are my best advice to stay productive. I’m always adding things to my lists and I feel great everytime I get to scratch one thing off my list :)
    – all the best!

    Check out: http://karmacopia.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/budget-2012-update/

  • Marissa @ Finance Triggers
    April 21, 2012

    I like the idea of taste testing. I have a really bad habit of avoiding the unpleasant task until the last minute.

  • MaryAnne @ Parenting and Money
    April 22, 2012

    This is great. I like this post. Not giving yourself other options is definitely true. When we allow ourselves some leeway, it often takes us in a different direction.

  • Rianka D.
    April 23, 2012

    I absolutely love this post! Especially about gym being optional so I move down to the next task – BUT – when I put on my gym clothes, turn on some good music, I am ready to go kick butt! Well kick the treadmills butt. LOL

    I also agree with changing your mindset – not giving yourself an option will give you no other option ’til you get err done!

    Thanks for the great post!.

  • Savvy Scot
    September 25, 2012

    This is the best post I have read in a long time!! Well done Daisy! I love all the different ways you have summarised some of the things I do and battle with. Taste testing (love that name) is something I do a lot. Try and find out the scale of the task and then I think about it in the back of my head while I do something else! Love this! Well Done :)

    • Savvy Scot
      September 25, 2012

      Ok this is slightly embarassing… I just realised that for some reason this is not a new post and I have read it before. HEY at least my comments are consistent.. right?

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