Motivation. It seems to me that a lack of motivation is a REALLY common problem amongst, well…everybody.
I know that’s an exaggeration, but honestly, I can’t think of one person with whom I regularly interact who doesn’t in some way struggle with motivation issues. This is just as true for me as it is for most.
Before I start in earnest, I should probably specify that I’m going to be talking about being motivated to do things that are in one way or another good for yourself. Motivation to do homework or a career-related task is a different matter, as the source of motivation is external, namely the fear of repercussions.
As with most topics like this, there are whole boatload of sources for this struggle. I’m going to try to communicate my primary struggle, and share some of the ways that I’ve learned or am learning to combat it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with a brief admission. For as long as I can remember, I have had the diagnoses of AD/HD attached to me. Some people really chafe at this label, as they feel like ADD and AD/HD are grossly overdiagnosed, but it personally doesn’t bother me, maybe because I feel like it does well at encapsulating the way my mind functions. I tend to flit about from subject to subject and task to task, and my train of thought can be hard to follow. Because of this, sitting down and working on a particular task (such as a blog post) can be a struggle, even if I want to do it. Distraction is the enemy.
In order to combat those tendencies, I find that creating a structure to the day can be really beneficial. I don’t always do it (I don’t know why), but when I know I have things to get done, I try and physically write out my day on our whiteboard. It could be laid out any number of ways, but as long as I’ve taken the time to identify what I want to be doing from, say, 9am to 2pm, I have started to build that motivating force.
All of this really comes down to breaking up my days and my tasks into small enough blocks to process without any hiccups. After I decide how I want to structure my day, I further specify what part of that project I’m focusing on. Now, it’s one thing if I need to do the dishes. I go until the drying rack is full, easy enough. It’s an entirely different thing to tackle a multi-stage, multi-year project, and that’s where a second, related source of procrastination rears its ugly head. The feeling of being overwhelmed is so very common, and a lot of people get crippled by the enormity of tasks they’ve either been given or taken upon themselves. I can’t stress enough how critical breaking things up is. What you or I are doing today is not writing a novel; what you or I are doing today is working on chapter 16 in that novel, wherein the hero realizes he left his sword leaning against the grinding wheel in the blacksmith’s shop. You get the jist of it. One small, manageable goal at a time.
So now you sit down, coffee cup in hand and ready to get crackin’. You start typing, and in a blaze of glory crank out half a page of material. And then you stare at the screen for the next 45 minutes and all you have to show for it is that you changed the word “shine” in to “shimmer.” This is my newest lesson learned.
Take frequent breaks. There’s this marvelous little device that Katie showed me called the Pomodoro, or Tomato Timer. It’s really quite simple. Work for 25 minutes. Take a 5 minute break. Rinse and repeat four times, then you get a 10 minute break. It seems insignificant, but it makes a tremendous difference.
With these tools in hand, I’ve really been able to make strides in my productivity, and what’s more, by doing so I’ve been able to create some amount of internal motivation. Slowly but surely, the satisfaction of progress becomes its own reward.
Thanks for reading,