Hmm, who am I to be writing about staying motivated?
Well, I am no one special but similar to yourself I’ve faced my own challenges with motivation. Perhaps my situation was unique on the surface having spent 15 years in a competitive sport attempting to qualify for the Olympics while studying at a top university and building a start-up. But I truly believe that underneath the surface level, we’re all human beings with emotions who face motivational ups and downs.
Nonetheless, I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing my own routines and habits in order to give myself the best opportunity to achieve my goals. That led me to study psychology, human behavior, motivation, goal settings, habit formation, and anything else that helps or doesn’t help us live up to our standards and goals. I am so far from perfect and have a lot to work on but below are some lessons I’ve learned along my journey that I wish to share with you.
Table of ultimate productivity:
- 1. Create a list of things you have to do daily
- 2.Learning how to get into a flow state
- 3. Use positive visualization of your goals motivate you
- 4. Get Rest
- 5. Take it easy on yourself and stay positive
- 6. Listen to your inner voice
- 7. Leverage technology to help you
- 8. Reach Out for some help!
Overwhelm often leads to inaction. Creating a list is a way to enhance focus, cut back stress, and give you a feeling of accomplishment when items are crossed off. It is this focus on the individual items that will allow you to make rapid progress on your work. Unfocused, undirected work is a sure way to lead to inaction and being unmotivated. Also, stress can drain your energy which is necessary to keep you going and finishing your tasks.
One form of list making that I use is the A, B, C, D, E List method:
- A - is the most important item to finish today. Don’t start anything else until A is finished.
- B - move on to B once you are done with A.
- C - move on to C once you are done with B.
- D - Delete or delegate to someone else or the next day.
- E - this is extra, if you have extra time and energy then finish it. But if you don’t eliminate it from your task list.
Lastly, always finish the day by making a list for the next day so your subconscious can start getting ready.
Once you have your task list ready, it’s time to get cracking. One of the most efficient ways to get your tasks done is to get into a flow state. A flow state occurs when you get lost in the work and time seems to pass without notice. However, getting into a flow state requires your work to be challenging but not too overwhelming. You have to find the sweet spot with your work because getting in the flow is the best way to reduce stress and get stuff done. Besides the difficulty of the workload, the next most important thing is to remove all the distractions. Distractions are the main killer of flow. Since we’re all working online - the best way to get rid of distractions is with BeTimeful’s free browser extension you can downloadhere. Lastly, give yourself enough time to get into the zone by blocking out chunks of time.
3. Use positive visualization of your goals to motivate you
Close your eyes and imagine achieving your goals. Imagine getting that GPA, holding your diploma, getting into that program or school, getting the dream job or promotion. Imagine what happens after you achieve your goals. Imagine getting congratulations from your friends and family or a new salary. Embody those feelings of success, pride and honour. Does that bring you energy? Most likely yes! That’s great, use that energy to roll up your sleeves and get working. Feeling stuck and unmotivated to finish your tasks? Bring up positive images of yourself achieving your goals, use that visualization to bring you the energy needed to finish your work.
4. Get Rest
Sometimes when your mind, brain, and body aren’t allowing you to get your work done it’s because you are lacking rest and recovery. In order to “Get stuff done” you need to be able to work for extended periods of and you need to be able to spend your energy. If you haven’t slept properly, eaten, drank enough water, been overworked and overstressed, perhaps you are simply lacking the rest and recovery your body desperately needs.
Did you know that many Olympic weightlifters are required by their contracts to have time in their schedule in order to sleep following a workout? Why do you think that is? That’s because scientists know that it is during sleep that your body recovers and prepares for the challenges to come. If you want to achieve your goals, perhaps it’s time to treat your mind and body like an athlete - take the time to recover, rest, eat, sleep and drink plenty of water and notice your productivity increase.
5. Take it easy on yourself and stay positive
Have you been overly hard on yourself? Is your schedule impossible for you to keep up with? Is your stress temporary or do you see no way out for the foreseeable future? Take note of your circumstances and acknowledge that if you created this situation for yourself, you can definitely pull yourself out of it. If you are experiencing extreme stress, find out when you can take a short break and look forward to the relaxation - use that visualization to keep you going.
If your strenuous situation is temporary, even better, acknowledge that you are stronger than what you’ve been challenged with and overcoming your challenges will only make you stronger.
Are you lagging behind work? No need to get negative and punish yourself. Doing so will only put you even further behind. Instead, remain positive and focused on getting through this period of stress.
6. Listen to your inner voice
Listen to your inner voice and acknowledge it. We all have an inner voice and the last thing we want is for that inner voice to be our enemy. Everyone should work on making sure that this inner voice is cheering them on rather than beating them up.
Changing your inner voice or your inner dialogue is a very important step toward staying motivated. When your inner voice is negative it can be very difficult to maintain positive emotions. The negative inner voice can be very powerful in draining your positive energy by forcing you to focus on the negative aspects. Changing your inner voice requires awareness and practice. First, you have to be aware of your inner voice and its negativity. Then you need to try to challenge it or perhaps find a situation where it might be wrong. Then you need to change it to something positive and see how your mood, motivation, and energy build momentum.
Let’s illustrate this process with an example:
For example, if my inner voice tells me “David, you’re stupid you will never be able to pass this test, why even bother studying.” First, I have to be aware of the voice. Then I need to find a way to challenge the logic of the inner voice so I will tell myself something like “ok, sure, but I can’t be that stupid, after all I did get accepted to the program so I must be at least a little smart.”
Then, I’ll try to change the voice to be positive and uplifting, “no, you know what, I am smart and I know that if I study hard, I can get a good grade.”
7. Leverage technology to help you
If you are struggling to stay motivated and productive, there are a lot of technology tools out there that can help you. Here is a list of the top productivity tools that we found to help you. For example, Win The Day Chrome extension allows you to change your first Browser screen to highlight your goals so you can keep your eye on the prize. Also don’t forget about using BeTimeful.com’s Brower extension that removes all distracting elements of social media, Reddit and YouTube. With Betimeful you can continuing using social media without getting distracted and don't need to block apps on your phone.
8. Reach Out for some help!
If you are having trouble staying motivated on your tasks, you can try to reach out to close friends and family. You’ll quickly realized that you are not the only one who is having a hard time staying motivated. Be honest with them and let your vulnerable insecurities be clear. Hopefully they too will express similar feelings. Not only will no longer feel alone carrying your burdens of negativity, but it will make you stronger and braver knowing that your connection with friends and family is a lot stronger.
Also, there are amazing top productivity coaches that we found such as Tim Ferris, Dean Graiosi, Chris Bailey, Jim Kwik and many more that you can turn to for inspiration. The most important thing that I want to leave you with is that you are not alone. You can also read one of our recommendations on the best focus books like my personal favourite, a summary of Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Productivity is something that we humans, as a society, are working on. Some are better than others productivity is only one element of being a human; just because someone is more productive it doesnt mean they are better than any body else.
What is your favourite hack to stay motivated?
Lastly, I want to leave you with a question - how do you keep yourself motivated?