5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Finish What You Started

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There must be a reason why many people quite often start projects or tasks, big or small, and at some point while working on the tasks they feel overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed, so much so that in the end they quit or feel like quitting.

When they are in a state of overwhelm or frustration their motivation to keep working is hindered. Their enthusiasm to finish off what they had started is greatly reduced and may lead to stop working on the project altogether.

So what do most of them do?

They mosey on to the coffee machine grunting under their breath, and once there they find someone to vent on. They spend a few minutes in idle one way chatter, complaining about the project or task that they have to do.

And as soon as the complaining session is over they reluctantly go back to their desk and stare at the project with great distaste wondering how they are going to get it done.

Rather than you falling into the same predicament of overwhelm and frustration, there are 5 ways I found that can really keep you productive and motivated to finish off what you started, where you can get things done from beginning to end, and feel great while doing so.

Here are the 5 ways that you can use today to easily finish off anything that you started, and to do so with great enthusiasm and motivation:

1. Break down the project into smaller pieces. The size and type of the project is irrelevant. To be more productive and remain motivated to finish off the project, you simply have to break it down into smaller, more manageable portions.

By breaking the project into smaller pieces, it will not seem so daunting. And what’s more, as you complete one step and before going to the next, you will have a sense of satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, which feels wonderful, psychologically.

This alone will motivate you to move onto to the next chunk or piece. But, before you move on to the next piece, be nice and give yourself a reward.

Go to the coffee machine and pour yourself a well-deserved cup and celebrate that achievement.

Once the celebration is over, go back and finish off another chunk. Notice the difference in your mood. You will be more productive than before and you will also feel more motivated to work, looking forward to receiving another reward.

2. Utilize the snowball effect to your advantage. What has the snowball effect got to do with motivation? In one word, momentum. Find the easiest and most enjoyable part of the project and start there.

This way you will finish off that portion of the task quickly and easily. It will give you the added buzz of accomplishment, and it will also increase the level of your self confidence and motivation.

What a huge sense of achievement. Even if that chunk was small or petty, the motivating sense of accomplishment is still there. It is to be recognised and, better yet, rewarded.

3. Avoid multitasking as best as you can. Perhaps you cannot avoid distractions, but at least make an effort to stay clear of multitasking.

Focus on what is at hand as best as you can.

The main benefit from this is that when you focus on the project that you are working on, not will you only be more productive, your motivation level will also increase as you will more than likely finish off the project sooner.

4. Take breaks. If at any point as you are working on a project you feel your motivation is slipping, perhaps because you still have a long way to go, or the remaining work is harder and more time-consuming, I suggest you finish off the chunk that you are working on and walk away from the task.

Get up and go for a chat, have lunch, call someone.

The objective here is to take your attention away from the project. This will ease away the frustration or annoyance that you may be feeling. And when you get back to the task, you will feel more relaxed, refreshed and motivated to continue.

5. No, seriously… take breaks. Yes, take another break. Where possible, figure a way for you to take a 3 – 5 minute break after every 40 – 45 minutes of continued work. Preferably get away from your desk or your work area.

Use your imagination here!

Research says that after 40 – 45 minutes of continuous work the brain tends to get tired or slow down. Perhaps that delay is not that noticeable, but it is there. In time, it will be obvious when you feel tired or drained, or you cannot focus as well.

Go for a stretch, a drink of water, a stroll.

Whatever way you can come up with to take a break will be highly beneficial. I am only talking about a short 3 – 5 minute break.

And, again, once you go back to the task, your brain will have had a rejuvenating break. You will feel well rested, refreshed and more motivated to continue.

Make these 5 ways an integral part of your life, where you will have the satisfaction of doing more and in less time, and you will do so in a more enthusiastic and motivated way.

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72 Responses to 5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Finish What You Started

  1. Great post, thanks.

  2. If you don’t finish what you start, your success rate will always be zero.

    Great article. I’ll stumble and tweet it for ya. 😉

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  4. Vincent says:

    I find that things get done easily whenever the momentum is going but when we break our momentum, it will be hard to get it back again. Great article!

    Personal Development Blogger

  5. Motivational says:

    Taking breaks is really important, just make sure whatever you do on your break, it’s not too fun, otherwise you’ll be doing it for way too long. So I don’t know if I agree with going for a chat or calling someone, I guess unless if it’s someone you don’t like talking to for very long, then I guess that would work :) Good Post.

  6. Breaking projects into smaller pieces is what really works for me. I’ve even had to break down small pieces into even smaller pieces! But it works. Sometimes, the scope of a project can be overwhelming, so much so that it can bring you to a stand-still. Small steps add up to big steps.

    Taking breaks is really important also and can easily be scheduled between small steps.

    Good suggestions Hani – thank you!

  7. This is great advice. I find breaking big projects into smaller tasks makes them manageable.

  8. Hi All,

    Thank you very much for your great inspiring comments and feedback.

    Bless you all.

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  12. Anca says:

    The truth is that the first problem is to start a project or something; We all, or at least the majority of us, tempt to procrastinate. One advice, that should help everybody: even if you feel unmotivated and uninspired, act anyway. Get moving and motivation and inspiration will follow.

  13. Amazing Post! This is absolutely true to succeed in any area of life. To become a better husband, wife, parent, or business person we should concentrate on these simple strategies. I really like your perspective.

  14. Hi Anca and Brian,

    Thank you both for your comments.By even taking the first small step, that alone gets the momentum going, and you will be more motivated to take more inspired action.

  15. bp says:

    I think the point about taking breaks is the one that most people overlook.

  16. Courtney says:

    Condition yourself until it becomes a habit…its the only way to ensure the change you want will be a life-long one

  17. David Cain says:

    “The size and type of the project is irrelevant.”

    So true!

    Every project is nothing but single actions, none of which take very long. Sometimes we think of the whole project as if it’s some huge thing we have to do, but you can’t “do” a project, you can only do its constituent single actions.

    Learning that opened major doors for me.

  18. Darrine says:

    I just had to comment, I have been using a very similar process and have found that once I started making reasonable goals for my self. I started being productive this in turn took some of the stress out of my life and I started to feel so much better about myself. Thanks I enjoyed your article!

  19. Paul D says:

    I think breaking up the project into smaller steps forces a person to think about exactly what needs to be done and to consciously accept the level of effort that will be needed to complete the project.

  20. Gerardo says:

    yeah i start with so many project i get overwhelm

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  23. Nat says:

    sounds easier said than done. I feel like I live in a Dilbert cartoon. At my office, I submit a report/letter to management, yeah…done! wait, not so fast, I receive comments from management, revise the report….done! wait, more comments….argh!!!

  24. Ahmed says:

    That is a really a good article, it will help. breaking a project into parts, taking breaks and dont forget time limit. Dont forget to appreciate your work .One thing that really helps is that you make a reward for your job.

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  26. Kevin Touhey says:

    I think Step 1 (Break down the project into smaller pieces) is the most important. Sometimes thinking about all the things that need to be completed can be overwhelming. But when you break it down and tackle it in small pieces, your productivity is bound to increase. Great post!

  27. Jeremy S. says:

    Amen! The last few weeks I’ve found myself going through the exact frustration pattern you’ve mentioned here, though tea instead of coffee.

    Yesterday I finally realized I had to stop complaining and take action. Step one was to list all the variables. Thank god for mind-mapping programs such as FreeMind (which is free/open source).

    Wished I read this posting last week.

  28. Melissa says:

    One favorite I have used and recommended is “Little Voice Mastery,” by Blair Singer. The “Little Voice” lives in that short, six-inch span between your right ear and your left ear. This book really hit home for me and gave me some great ways to recognize what my little voice is saying and what to do about it on a daily basis. I just didn’t know how to utilize this knowledge till after reading Blair’s book. The author even offers a download of a free chapter in pdf or mp3 on his home page.

  29. Omar says:

    Naps help me finish my projects because I feel energetic and recharged.

  30. I definitely agree that breaking down a task into smaller bits is the most important. Anything you can do to make things more manageable will definitely help you stay motivated. I also agree with Omar’s comment. While naps wouldn’t work for me, doing something that makes me feel energetic and recharged would definitely help me to feel motivated. For example, I just cleaned my apartment and I feel completely energized and ready to take on the day!

  31. Anelly says:

    I definitely agree that multi-tasking in the same time, must be eliminated. People are unproductive if they choose to do more things because they are not finishing all and because they are not focusing on a certain problem solving.

  32. Spencer says:

    I complete agree with your post on eliminating multi-tasking. In my day job I am a Fortune 500 facilitator and deal with this every day. Leaders think they are too important to shut off their phones while in a meeting. We use guidelines and a gatekeeper to keep this activity at a minimum. We also use third hand information to shut down multi-tasking. Sometimes we have success and sometimes we sound like broken records. Try to work on one task at a time and you will have more success over time.

  33. Thanks for your advise! ;-))

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  35. Multitasking is a true killer. On other hand there is so many distractions surround us [BTW, I am my biggest distraction 😉 ]. Good discipline tat helps focusing on one thing helps a lot in finishing what was started. Covey’s quadrants (important/urgent) help a lot

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  37. Thank you for this darling list on staying motivated. I am one of those people who personally finds it hard to stay motivated. I will improve myself though!

    My post on motivation:

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  39. Ken says:

    Great Post….I break it down into smaller tasks by picturing the finished task and break it down backwards.

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  41. Hi,
    Good article, the best way that I have found to stay motivated is to be clear of the pleasure experienced by finishing, and the pain caused by not finishing. By actually taking a second or two to think about this instead of just doing blindly doing, my chance of success finishes greatly.


  42. arshad says:

    You made me your fan.Great article it will definately help to everybody to still motivated in tuff times.

  43. Lovelyn says:

    Great tips. The two things that really help me are breaking down projects and focusing on the task at hand. It’s so easy to get distracted and do a little of this and a little of that when should be doing something else. Focusing helps you complete the task more quickly.

  44. Liara Covert says:

    This blog post reminds each person he or she is in charge of how every moment unfolds. What is on your radar screen, what you notice or not, is completely up to you. If you sense nothing is wrong, you do not change. You see no reason to, and yet, reasons exist.

  45. Matt Herndon says:

    Great post Hani! I often feel overwhelmed when I begin large tasks, and these are excellent tips to keep things manageable. I find it particularly vital to break down larger jobs and take frequent breaks to maintain focus.

    I found another site that also has some valuable information on motivation and personal development. It is a blog created by Joan Marie Whelan, an extraordinary lifestyle transformation coach and inspirational author.

    Apparently, she is having a special event on Twitter called “How to use GI (Gut Instinct) to Unleash Your Entrepreneurial Spirit in Tough Economic Times.” It is scheduled for May 21st, 8-9 pm EST. The details are on her blog, but you can
    bookmark the tweetgrid HERE. Sounds interesting!

  46. Vince says:

    Hi! Great post! These tips are really good! I really hate not being able to finish something I started. I didn’t know that our brains get tired after 40-45 minutes of continuous work. I’ll be sure to take a short break every now and then. Thanks for the post! Will share this with friends.

  47. Hi Vince,

    Many thanks for your feedback. Yes, research says take a break after 40-45 minutes. You will be able to continue to work longer than the 45 minutes, but you will be less productive.

    So, where possible, schedule in a break


  48. Excellent advice to take breaks. I couldn’t agree more. I recently wrote a post about some of my financial struggles and how desperately I needed a break! Many times, people forget to take care of themselves and just move on to a different task for a few minutes. Thanks for the wisdom!

  49. Paul ryder says:

    As a coach it’s great to see a blog as good as this one, very helpful and informative and one ill definitely be coming back to!
    Fully agree with the post, if we never take time how can we ever have time!

  50. Yeah, avoid multitasking
    it’s only give you more and more task, never ending tasks

  51. Vince says:

    Hi! It’s me again. That advice to teak breaks really is effective. I’ve been trying it since yesterday and I’ve already got more work done. Thank you so much for that advice!

  52. Vince says:

    Oh sorry that’s take not teak.

  53. Hi Vince,

    I am very happy to hear that it has worked for you. Keep it up and you will be more productive as the days go by.

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  55. Vince says:

    Hi Hani! I like your post so much I’ll be putting a link to it on my blog. Keep up the good work! I’ll be looking forward for more posts like this from you in the future. =)

  56. Patrick says:

    Hani,I wonder what about reviewing what the your trying the achieve in the first place before continuing with the task itself?

    There are reasons why we become unmotivated in the first place. Maybe the situation changes and the task that we wish to complete ins’t really worth it anymore. Maybe we discover that we have more important things to do. Maybe, the task that we do is harder that we initially thought and a complete revise of the strategy plan is needed.

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  60. prom gowns says:

    i always cant finish what i started

  61. wonderful piece of information, I appreciate it that you share something
    useful for the readers here

  62. Duddy says:

    For 20% of the population, the real issue is clinically significant procrastination.

    I’ve discovered that overcoming procrastination and thus thinking more positively and being considered more reliable by others, is really a simple process of transferring motivation from the things we love to do and do often, over to the things we don’t like doing and that we avoid often.

    With some basic time-boxing and motivational re-harnessing, you can literally start to enjoy your high procrastination task as much as one of your daily favorite activities. To many mangers and motivation coaches leave out the motivational component because they don’t understand it.

    That’s because the best way to overcome procrastination or under-performance is as simple as it is counterintuitive. You have to do it to see it work, and it gets faster and easier each time you apply it. From a behavioral perspective, it’s all about positively reinforcing manageable approximations to realistic high-procrastination tasks (performance goals).

    Overcoming procrastination involves the same motivational processes that underlie the evidence-based treatment of clinical depression and the cure for autism. Talk about leveraging the brains rewiring ability!

    Borrowing motivation from high-probability behaviors is also the basis of effective performance management systems in the best organizations. But usually they do it but can’t explain it.

    The evidence-base says behavior/environment change is far more important than cognitive/thought change. The capacities for sustained positive self-talk and work-performance thrive in positive-reinforcement rich environments (see activation therapy, and meta-analytic component analysis for depression treatment analysis for depression treatment).

    Thanks for your thought provoking article. I hope to be back soon to read more. Greatfully, – Duddy (Professional Counselor and Behavior-Change Consultant).

  63. The author has written an excellent tips or so called advice but self determination is the only way out.

  64. I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites.

  65. Post is nicely written and it contains many good things for me. I am glad to find your impressive way of writing the post. Now it become easy for me to understand and implement the concept.

  66. Quotes says:

    Wow, that’s
    great. Thanks for sharing about “5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Finish What You
    Started”.  I think you’ve made
    some truly interesting points. Not too many people would actually think about
    this the way you just did.


  67. Timothy says:

    “Overwhelm” is a VERB, not a noun. Please correct this in your writing habits. It is very annoying.

  68. Carrington Tammy says:

    It’s like I can’t focus my brain is a blank now is not the time I’m about to take a big test I’m so nervous

  69. Acharyaanupam16 says:

    tip: “Average people discontinue in adverse circumstances but the highly
    successful people keep moving forward. The ability to keep moving forward makes
    all the difference. In fact, it is the difference in itself. It is the game

  70. Chochiku says:


  71. Really good points here. Splitting work into smaller tasks looks like a good way to eliminate procrastination. On top of these points, I’d like to add that switchtasking is also a dangerous enemy. In our recent survey on working habits, people named interruptions as the no.1 productivity threat (http://www.wrike.com/news/wrike-survey-overworking-has-become-habit-forming). If you get interrupted when you were focused on one task and need to take care of another asap, it might be really hard to get back on track…

  72. Leela says:

    Reminds me of my mother telling this to me as a child, and I obeying her , thanks for bringing it back to me in such a concise manner :) It still works!!!

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