You know that feeling you get when you start a new workout plan, or you start building a side business?
The excitement, drive, and motivation!
It makes waking up early easier, working late tolerable and excuses hard to justify.
Then a few weeks go by…
And the harsh reality sets in.
All of a sudden, you don’t “feel like it” as much as you did before. You still want the results, but you’ve lost the desire to get started with the work.
This is normal, and it happens to everyone.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make it better.
1. Handle the Worst Things First
According to the research, willpower is a limited resource.
Imagine you have a daily budget of willpower. Each challenging task, whether mental or physical, requires you to use a bit of willpower.
You slowly spend your daily budget of willpower as you go about your day.
As a result, our willpower is strongest in the morning and weakest at night. (Ask yourself: do I make better decisions in the morning or at night?)
This is why you want to handle the worst tasks first while your willpower is strong. Putting off that email you’re ignoring or firing that client you don’t like is only going to get more difficult as the day goes on.
Instead, you can handle it while you’ve got willpower on your side. Plus, you’ll also build momentum that carries forward throughout the rest of your day.
2. Leverage Your Energy at the Right Time(s)
We have a tendency to romanticize the idea of being a morning person as if that is the secret to success.
In reality, you have to figure out what times work best for you.
I can get the most work done in the early morning and late evening. My energy levels (towards work, that is) are sluggish in the afternoon.
Maybe you don’t get much done in the morning, but you blast through work from 1-5 pm. Instead of trying to change what naturally works for you, why not use this knowledge to your advantage?
Schedule your high-value tasks for the time of day you are most productive. Then handle low-value tasks in the hours when you are coasting.
In other words, try to get the most work done in the times where you do feel like it, and schedule lower-priority objectives for the times when you don’t.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method created by Francesco Cirilio that’s intended to help you get more done in less time.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose one task to work on
- Set a timer and work with zero distractions for 25 minutes
- After the timer goes off, take a break for 5 minutes and then start again
- After four pomodoros (25 minutes of focused work) take a longer break of 15-20 minutes
The Pomodoro Technique is perfect for the times you aren’t in the mood to work because you know you only have to commit to 25 minutes of focused work at a time. Knowing that you’ll get a break quickly makes it easier to get started.
The best part is how much momentum this technique builds and how quickly it ramps up your motivation!
4. Cut Off Social Media
Humans have always found ways to waste time. Social media is our preference in the modern age.
However, social media is more than a distraction — it’s an addiction. In fact, research shows that Facebook addiction activates the same areas of the brain as drugs. (Source)
Unless you record yourself throughout the day, you probably don’t realize how much time you waste with social media. Think about how many times you open Instagram or Snapchat throughout the day.
Each time you check your social media you are throwing your mind out of flow with what you need to accomplish. (Unless your job requires you to use social media.)
The best solution I’ve found is to turn off ALL notifications from social media apps and only check social media at certain times of the day.
As fun as social media is, it doesn’t bring the same satisfaction as getting things done!
5. Incentivize Yourself
It’s funny how motivated you get when there’s money on the line.
Sometimes all we need is a little incentive.
There’s a company, stickK, that’s 100% free and allows you to bet money against yourself and be held accountable. You set a goal to bet on, pick an amount of money to bet, and then select a referee to approve or decline your bet based on whether you stuck to your goal or not.
What makes it interesting is how you can set the stakes. For example, many people choose to have their money donated to a charity they despise or to a person they don’t like. In other words, they give themselves a convincing reason not to fail.
Another tactic for this strategy of incentivizing yourself is creating a competition with a friend or family member – a method I have personally used many times successfully.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I would rather win bragging rights from a friend than take their money. That said, when they’re willing to put both on the line, I’m more than happy to take both.
6. Force Yourself to Get Started
Motivation comes and goes.
Sometimes motivation finds you and other times you have to seek it out.
The mistake too many make is thinking you are supposed to be motivated before you start working.
Unfortunately, this won’t always be the case — but it’s ok because you don’t need it.
All you need to do is get started, and the motivation will come to you.
If you can just hang in for 10 to 20 minutes, you’ll reach a flow state and find your motivation.
The only time this doesn’t work is when there’s something bigger going on…
7. Check Your Health
Burnout is real, and you want to avoid it.
If you’re experiencing prolonged lack of motivation, there might be some underlying health issues.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly?
Are you staying hydrated?
Sure, these are common sense, but I have a tendency to get caught up in the hustle and forget to eat. Perhaps you’re skipping something that’s important for your health.
Remember, health is number one. There’s nothing more important than your health.
You’ll do your best work when you’re performing at your best.
When your body and mind are prepared to perform, you’ll be surprised how often you “feel like” getting things done!
KW Stout is the author of Health Mind Power — a website dedicated to improving your life through habits and your daily routine. You can download the FREE eBook, 99 Habits For Those Who Want it All, at his website!
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.