Do you often find yourself waiting for motivation to kick in?
When it comes to tackling your to-do list, there’s nothing better than feeling that surge of energy to get you pumped.
Your mind is focused, your energy is at its peak and your enthusiasm is at an all-time high. When you’re in that zone, it feels like you can accomplish anything.
The problem with this is: motivation is inconsistent and unreliable.
Unless it’s something we absolutely love, many of us would much rather put off working. We tell ourselves that we’ll find the motivation later but, more often than not, later never comes or it comes in sporadic bursts that disappear as quickly as it appears.
So, rather than sit there idly waiting for something that may or may not happen, here’s a better approach to getting things done.
Prioritize your tasks
Does your to-do list only grow with each passing day? Does it feel like there’s never enough time to finish everything you need to get done?
Then prioritizing is essential.
Think about the important goals you want to accomplish. Are the tasks on your to-do list bringing you closer to achieving those goals?
If not, audit your time and find out where you can do less of the things that don’t bring you closer to your goals and more of the things that you do.
Break your goals down into smaller steps and make those tasks a priority so you can be sure you’re using your time in the best way possible.
Make a commitment and stick to it
How often do you add tasks to your to-do list and end up not doing them?
That’s why, once you’ve prioritized, it’s important to schedule the tasks you want to accomplish for that day.
If you operate better scheduling a task at a specific time, go with that. Otherwise give yourself some flexibility by scheduling them at a general time—for example, first thing in the morning, before lunch or immediately after work.
After setting a time, make sure that you actually commit to doing it. Block out that time, get rid of distractions and do whatever it takes to make sure you get it done.
This is about knowing what works for you and having the discipline to follow through.
Don’t think, do
Tasks can be painful, and most of us will use whatever means necessary to avoid that pain.
When you think about a task for long enough, it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing it. You start to imagine the effort you will have to put into it and the time it will take to complete and, before you know it, it’s game over.
It’s like waking up in the morning. If you sit in bed thinking about whether or not to get up, chances are you’re already falling back to sleep. But if you hear your alarm in the morning and get out of bed without even thinking about it, you’re ready to start your day.
So when it comes to tackling the items on your to-do list, put your mind on autopilot to avoid talking yourself out of it.
Oftentimes, the thought of doing something is much worse than actually doing it.
Get in the zone
Set yourself up for success by creating an environment conducive to concentration. Whether it’s a little nook in the corner of your apartment or a dedicated office in your home, the goal is to work in a space that allows you to focus.
So get rid of any and all distractions and have a routine that signals that you’re there to get work done.
That could involve making a cup of coffee and enjoying it while on your computer, popping in some noise-canceling headphones or whatever else tickles your fancy.
The objective here is to create a routine that signals that it’s time to work and nothing else.
When you have a mountain of work ahead of you, where you do begin?
If the thought of taking on your to-do list leaves you feeling overwhelmed, try building momentum with smaller tasks first.
If you can, break down your larger tasks so they are smaller and more manageable. Then check off these smaller tasks first to help get you into a workflow that builds up your confidence and energy.
It’s a mental trick. You’re still completing the same tasks that you had set out to do from the beginning, but you’re making them appear easier. This gives you the push you need to get things done.
Once you’ve completed several of these small tasks, you’ll feel pumped and ready to take on the bigger tasks ahead of you.
Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you weren’t sitting there waiting for a stroke of motivation to hit you?
While it’s nice to feel those moments of pure energy and inspiration while performing a task, those moments are far and few between.
There are always going to be tasks we have to do that we don’t necessarily want to do. Rather than waste time by putting off the inevitable, follow the steps above and take action instead.
Through her own spiritual wellness journey, Sonya aspires to help millennials use mindfulness to thrive in today’s world. Sign up for her free guide the Worry Detox for instant access to tips for adding more peace and calm into your daily life.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. 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.