You wake up, and the entire atmosphere seems to welcome you into the early hours. Energy flows through you like fuel. Goals and objectives sit at the forefront of your mind. You open your laptop and a blank document, or take out books, paper, stationary. The next two hours, in which your thoughts are transported into actuality and your knowledge is strengthened by new information seem to fly by. At the end, you receive the satisfaction of getting a task done in a timely manner.
On a different day, you wake up and everything feels grey. It takes an hour of stumbling about and getting yourself together just to get your workplace in order. You stare at a blank page with a similarly blank mind, succumb to a distraction, spend a further twenty minutes scrolling through social media. As the day passes, each task feels like summiting a mountain. You question yourself and your abilities, and spiral into self-deprecation.
A key ingredient which may differentiate between the two days above is motivation. Like ‘productivity’ and ‘wellbeing’, motivation is a buzzword in modern discourse. When thinking of what it means, we picture a reservoir which fluctuates in accordance with factors that seem rather elusive. Sometimes you wake up brimming with a drive to finish your tasks. Then there are the days when minutes feel like hours. Procrastination turns from an occasional nuance to a major hurdle between you and your objectives. For many people motivation determines the quality of their work and the extent to which they succeed in meeting their goals. It can, therefore, broadly be defined as an inner drive that facilitates goal-seeking behaviour, that makes it easier to overcome challenges and do what you want or must (or a mixture of both) with genuine enthusiasm.
However, motivation is notoriously vague. Striking randomly and often in short bursts, it makes a dangerous precondition for your commitment to start and finish something. With most tasks bound by time constraints and a world which moves quicker every day, we can hardly rely on sporadic visits from our muse to write, do our homework, finish projects, go to the gym, educate ourselves, etc. First and foremost, discipline and habit should be developed as key drivers of productivity. Or, we can take steps to create motivation. How motivation turns a task from a chore into an enjoyment makes a combination of the two an enticing option.
And as with anything else, creating motivation calls for an active approach. Finding yourself in a slump, don’t wait for it to come on its own. Make a conscious choice to reinstate your inner drive, approaching your daily endeavours with energy and liveliness. As well as keeping a daily focus on your long term goals – which make powering through difficult yet necessary activities worthwhile – there are certain habits and exercises we can implement when at a low point instead of turning to distractions and underestimating our power to get things done.
Ten Exercises to Renew Your Motivation
EXERCISE 1: Work on a task for two minutes
As compellingly articulated in an article by James Clear, ‘every goal can be started in two minutes or less’ – two minutes is all it takes to tackle your inhibitions. When the motivation just isn’t there, getting started is by far the hardest part of a task, in particular when you expect it to be difficult.
You find yourself catching up on social media, watching a YouTube video, responding to emails for much longer than necessary. If this happens, take a step back and work on your priority for two minutes. The prospect of 120 seconds need not require a wave of motivation in the same way as three hours of focused work. However, after the two minutes have elapsed, you are likely to find yourself transitioning to the latter, regardless of where your motivation may have been at the start….