Thought of the Day: Motivation – How to get stuff done

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a positive week and a great Easter holiday. I was looking at all the different ways people celebrated Easter around the world on Instagram, it is really amazing seeing all the different traditions. Admittedly, I just used my bank holidays to laze around and not do very much. I had so much time on my hands but didn’t manage to post or record a vlog, so I apologise for my poor scheduling and lack of consistency.

However, it did spark an idea for this post today. It has been over a year since we have started our first lockdown in the UK. We have been through this very boring and tiring cycle of lockdowns and we seem to be finally opening up again for good (famous last words), which is exciting and daunting at the same time! I am definitely getting lockdown fatigue but more so, I have noticed my lack of motivation to do anything has gotten worse. I really struggle to do anything, there is a feeling of sluggishness and my mind is in a little fog. As you know, that is not how I roll, so to help myself, and hopefully, to help those who are interested, I wanted to delve into what lies behind motivation and how to keep up with momentum!

What does goals have to do with it?

Motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining one’s objectives

We need motivation to get things done; whether it is to get up in the morning to start your day or to start your own business. It is the thought process which leads to action towards a particular goal. The keywords are action and goal. Goal setting is fundamental to getting the right level of motivation and, it goes without saying, action is how you are going to get there. Therefore, you need to start off with the goal in mind – if you want to learn more about setting goals for success check out my previous blog post and YouTube video. Once you have that sorted, we need to move onto how we can translate our goals into action.

Control vs. Concern

My willpower is fickle and elusive. I have found myself becoming increasingly lethargic, I often blame the weather because I am a flower and need sunshine and warmth. However, I have plenty of things to get on with (such as working out … ) but why can’t I just get my ass in gear? On the other hand, there are times where I have laser-like focus and I am in my flow. I absolutely love that feeling – I feel good about myself but like I said, motivation is fickle and my frustration is procrastination is very hard to beat.

There are external and internal forces that would impact our levels of motivation, the pandemic being the biggest external forces that I have experienced in my lifetime. It is important to distinguish these different forces and what is within your control, influence and concern. The pandemic is obviously something we would have concerns about, but we have to understand there is a lot that we cannot control given all the different restrictions. If you focus too much on things that are outside of your control, you will be spending most of your time reacting to things rather than being proactive and getting going.

An example is, currently in England the gyms are closed (but not for long), which is within your circle of concern if you are worried about your physical health. What is within your control is whether you decide to sit on the sofa until the gym is opened again to work out or you do a home work out or go for a walk.

It is really liberating to sit back and assess what is within your circle of control and influence and then let all the other things go. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you want to do and achieve, but spending a bit of time at the beginning of the week/month to note your thoughts and what challenges might hold you back from success and then break it down to what you can control, just gives you that little motivation to keep going.

Systems

If motivation is fickle then we have to find ways to minimise our dependency on our own willpower and motivation This is where systems are so important – routine and discipline. The idea is act now, feel motivated later. Below are a few tips that I have found useful and helpful as I tried to crack the whip and get things going.

M.I.Ts

There have been times where I have been inundated with things I had to complete, both in my work and personal life. It was just a long shopping list of things that were not categorised or sorted. A list of things that I translated from my thoughts to paper. However, the 100 or so items in physical form were incredibly daunting. Lists can be great, but not if they are just a laundry list of everything and anything. As you can imagine – you can’t get motivated by that, it just stops you in your tracks!

This is when I came across the concept of MITs – Most Important Tasks. Turns out that this is used a lot in the design world, which, unfortunately, had not translated to my side of the corporate world. The concept is incredibly simple. Each morning before I start my day, I put down a few (c.3) tasks that I have to complete. If I complete those things, I know that I would be happy with myself and that it was enough. My friend who owns Rama Publishing has this wonderful Daily Review Goal Planner which helps you focus on your MITs and works as a “the coach you carry with you” which I really recommend. [Not an ad – I just love her stuff!].

This thought process and habit of writing the top three things I wanted to achieve helped with my motivation because tasks became achievable. It drives to me to act now and think about motivation later, if at all. It forces you to focus on what is most important. Time is precious, what is worth doing? It goes back to Essentialism and the concept of the One Thing you want to achieve in the long term and does that task on the piece of paper get you there?

Be brave – be brutal.

Protecting your time

The calendar on your phone/outlook is the key tool for this. Now that you have made a list of the three things you need to achieve for the day. You have to block out time in your diary and mentally for those tasks. During the workday, I make sure that I block out gaps in my diary where I don’t have any meetings to say “Focus Time – Task X”. I have found that most of your colleagues respect this and try to give you your time to actually work. For personal tasks, especially on weekends, I make sure that I use my personal Google calendar to block out time to align with the tasks I want to achieve. It is a great way to build focus so you don’t need the motivation to get things done.

You should also identify when you work best. I am a morning lark, so if I wanted to get anything done, then I need to do it between 6AM to 12PM; as I know that I would not be as effective after that. After I have achieved my key tasks in the morning, I can do less mentally intense tasks, such as laundry or reading papers/documents for work. I reward myself later in the evening by winding down, reading and watching TV, but only after I completed my MITs. However, I would never be able to do that or build a routine if I did not protect my time.

Let go of the guilt

Guilt does not fuel motivation, do not use guilt as punishment when you have not completed something and then use it as motivation to get moving. This is a vicious cycle and guilt is not a sustainable motivator. Indulgent eating one day doesn’t mean you should be starving yourself the next. You need to let go of that guilt and have the confidence in your abilities to get back on track with the goals you have set.

Stop punishing yourself, move on. Revisit your goals, review what is within your control, make the list and carry on.

Don’t Break the Chain

Now that you have started doing things, it is important to not break the chain. Consistency is critical and something I know that I am not great at (just look at my YouTube postings). Take advantage of momentum. Once you start, it is easier to continue. Form the habit/routine and keep at it. After that, it will be like riding downhill.

Best of luck! Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips you have found useful to help find your own motivation or just something that pushes you towards action.

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

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