Tuesday, 4 February 2014

What to do when you can't get motivated

Why is that some days you feel like you could take on the world and the next it's a struggle to get out of bed? Hormones? Energy levels? Weather? The prospect of an unpleasant list of chores ahead?
Perhaps it's a combination of all of the above.  But here's the thing: For most of us, nestling back down under the duvet isn't an option.
Assuming that you've managed to get up and dressed, how on earth do you motivate yourself if you are having one of those types of day?
I'm no stranger to the struggle to "get out the bit" as we say here in Scotland. And, like so many of you, when there's work, family life and other commitments to juggle, I almost always have a to-do list lurking, waiting to be tackled.
For this reason, I've eagerly absorbed every crumb of advice involving procrastination and the art of knuckling down to work. Forums, self-help books and, you guessed it, other blogs are thankfully full of suggestions. 

Here's my own consolidated set of techniques to help you on your way... As ever, I've included what I think is a decent mixture in the hope that there's something here for everyone.
Keep it short
Getting started is almost always the worst part so I've borne that in mind here.  If you can just get going and feel that you've achieved something, chances are that you might feel good enough to tackle the next task in hand.  It's therefore sometimes a good idea to start out with a job that you know you can complete quickly. As the queen of home management, flylady, says: "You can do anything for 15 minutes."
Keep it simple
On a similar note to the above suggestion, if you need a "quick fix" achievement, then you could do worse than to choose something easy as a starting point on your to-do list.  No matter that it doesn't take much brainpower or physical effort, you'll have done something (albeit something simple) when you were in the mood to do absolutely nothing.
Keep it mechanical
If even simple tasks seem like too big a mountain to climb, go for something that really is a "no brainer" - something repetitive and mechanical. That pile of paper that needs shredded, those socks that need paired, the envelopes that need stuffed. If that's all you feel up to - and it needs done anyway - go for it.
Keep it physical
If paperwork features in your 'to do' list but you simply can't concentrate, you may have to put it to one side temporarily.  (I appreciate that this isn't an option if you work in an open plan office!) If your schedule has the flexibility, go and do something active instead.  I'm a homeworker so I'll often go and disgruntledly hoover or mop a floor to try and power my way out of my bad mood.  These things usually need done in my house anyway, so at least I've gone some way towards tackling the chores.
Keep it incentivised
Promising small children a reward for completing a mundane task might be frowned upon but this time it's up to you! If you can't get yourself going, why not promise yourself something nice if you succeed in knuckling down for a certain amount of time?  It doesn't have to be anything major - even just a break for a cuppa, or a chat on the 'phone with a friend.
Keep it nasty
Bit of a wildcard here at the end! (Just wanted to check that you were still reading....)  Sometimes, when you are in a real grump anyway, it's worth considering doing the polar opposite to suggestions one and two. That's right:  Pick the big task you are most dreading and immerse yourself in it.  After all, if you are out of sorts you may as well be out of sorts properly!

Do you have any techniques for dealing with days when you simply "can't get out the bit?" If so, please comment below.

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Shared on Works-For-Me-Wednesday (WFMW).

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