“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
– Chinese Proverb
The world is a busy, stressful place, and many of us struggle with a never-ending list of tasks. If you’re lacking motivation, you’re not alone. Chronic procrastination, however, can interfere with your ability to get even the most basic work done. This can prove to be a vicious cycle. You might feel unmotivated, not get any work done, and then feel so defeated that you’re unable to achieve your goals the next day, and so on. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are a few simple ways to increase your motivation and boost your productivity:
#1 Plan Your Time
If you don’t plan your time, then it’s hard to even know what you’re trying to motivate yourself to do! Your first step should be to create a ‘To-Do List’ and write down exactly what you want to achieve. Be specific and break your goals into small, actionable steps. Make a list of monthly, weekly and daily goals. At the end of each day be sure to refer to your ‘To-Do List’ and update it so that you have a list of things to do tomorrow. This way you’ll be focused and motivated from the get-go.
There are many ways to create a ‘To-Do List’. For the tech-savvy among us, there’s a plethora of smart phone apps that can be used or inbuilt task management features in programs like Microsoft Outlook. Then there’s the old-school way of writing your list on paper or on post-it notes. It doesn’t really matter how you make your ‘To-Do List’, just be sure to make one and use it regularly.
#2 Schedule Some Fun
If you work long days, spend your weekends slaving away, or are constantly facing stress over your job, finances, or family, this can quickly sap your motivation. Commit to yourself that you’ll do something you enjoy every day, no matter how busy your schedule is. Schedule some fun time as part of your daily activities. If you take a little time for yourself each day, you’ll be able to get off the motivation-sapping treadmill of constant work. This, in turn, can help you work more productively during your scheduled work time, and avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and hopelessness.
#3 Get Physical
Exercise doesn’t just keep your body healthy; it also has powerful effects on the mind. Several studies have shown that exercise can be just as effective as medication at treating depression and anxiety, which are often associated with procrastination. Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, or cycling is particularly helpful. To maximize the benefits, choose something fun. Try working out with a friend, enrolling in a sport, or going to a high-energy exercise class.
# 4 Defeat Negative Self-Talk
Many people struggle with a nagging voice telling them that they’re not good enough and that they’ll never get it all done. Positive self-talk plays a crucial role in both self-esteem and motivation, so take time to weed out those negative thoughts whenever you hear them. For every negative thought you think, actively counter it with a positive thought, as if you’re having an argument in your head. Taking this one step further, consider using self hypnosis or meditation to ward off any negativity. Hypnosis is a wonderful tool for increasing your motivation and productivity and it makes sense to direct any change work where the problem lies and where it is maintained, which is your unconscious mind.
#5 Be Inspired
Dare to dream big dreams and remember what it is that truly inspires you. Use your inspirations as means to ignite your productivity. I’m sure we’ve all seen the cliché motivational posters that adjourn the walls in work offices, consulting rooms, and the dentist’s waiting room. There’s nothing wrong with these posters, with their positive quotes and sayings, but what is it that inspires and motives you? Maybe it’s to earn enough money to buy your dream home, a yacht, or maybe to travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Perhaps your motivations are more modest. Whatever motivates you, use it for daily inspiration. Hang photos or posters on your walls or change the screensaver on your computer. Put these reminders anywhere and everywhere.
#6 Go Offline
I’ve heard it said that a computer without the internet is like a bowl without food. There’s some truth to that. But the internet can also be a huge distraction, particularly if you work from home. To spend more time focused on your work, consider turning off those automatic alerts every time a new e-mail arrives in your inbox. Avoid Twitter, Facebook and YouTube during your work day. Better yet, why not take a week-long sabbatical from such social media sites? Unless you actually need the internet, consider putting your computer on ‘airplane mode’ and go offline for a few hours. Turn off any distractions and actually pretend you’re on an airplane, just with more leg room and no turbulence. Your feet maybe firmly on the floor but your productivity will soar to new heights.
I hope some of my suggestions resonate with you. Just remember, with a little bit of planning and organization you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.
Barrie St John is one of the leading authorities in the field of clinical hypnotherapy and counseling. Barrie’s self hypnosis CDs and MP3 downloads can be found at HypnoShop.com.