My productivity tends to go in waves.
There will be certain days or weeks where I feel like I’m totally crushing it. Then there are days where almost nothing gets done, and laundry, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, or *gasp* cleaning the bathroom…all sound more interesting than my project for work.
Have you been there, too? If so, read on to learn the six reasons we lose motivation, and how to find it!
6 Reasons We Lose Motivation, and How to Find It.
I often get frustrated with this cycle of productivity, and I find myself asking, “why can’t I maintain consistency?” It seems like there are simply good days and bad days, productive weeks and weeks of struggle, and that there is not any rhyme or reason to the pattern. And occasionally, I believe this is true. Sometimes we are just in a rut, or we are simply having an “off” day.
That being said, I have started thinking more closely about these productivity waves and why I am lacking motivation during specific times. And you know what? It turns out there is a pattern. In fact, I have found six reasons why my motivation takes a nosedive, and these include:
- Burn out
- Comparison game
- Fear of failure
Once I finally identified these six main culprits, I have been able to tackle these challenges much more efficiently.
Let’s start with the number one motivation crusher that I face:
Getting completely overwhelmed
I often run into this roadblock when I am beginning something BIG: a research project, creating a new course, when I am staring at that dreaded blank page on day one of a writing project.
Similarly, if I have a massive to-do list and I don’t know where to start, I get that all-too-familiar rush of panic that squelches my motivation. Does this ever happen to you?
If so, rather than allowing anxiety creep inside your chest, try taking it in stride by following these four simple steps:
1. Begin the day with your most challenging task, but start small.
I know this sounds a little contradictory, but hear me out.
If my task is to begin a new research project, for example, I get incredibly overwhelmed when thinking about everything such a massive process entails. So much so, that I would rather do any other (read, easier) project instead; it makes me feel like I am getting something done, but in reality, I am not working toward the most important goal.
So now, instead of wasting my energy on these easier – though less important – tasks, I force myself to work on the most challenging project on my to-do list. The main difference is that I break the monster down into smaller steps.
Then, I select one tiny portion of my bigger assignment, and I work on that for the day.
By creating a more manageable task, you remove much of the intimidation factor, because you know can complete it in one day. Additionally, you are still working toward your big-picture goal, which makes it easier to muster up the motivation.
2. Set a timer.
If you are looking at one of your least favorite things to do, and you simply cannot find the motivation to do it, set a timer. Tell yourself you need to work on this project today, but you only have to do it for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.
Set a time limit, and once your minutes are up, you are done for the day. Again, you have worked toward your goal, you did not put it off, and you are moving in the right direction.
Essentially, you are taking the pressure off a little bit. You are creating a realistic goal that, upon completion, provides an important boost of confidence (read motivation!) that keeps you going the next day.
If you do not set a time limit, it is easy to freeze up before you even begin. Your thought process might look something like this: “Oh my gosh, I cannot finish this entire project today. Why even start?”
When you set a time limit, you make a realistic and attainable goal. In fact, I am willing to bet that if you set a goal to work for 30 minutes (rather than an open-ended “work until I’m done framework) your response will be: “Bring it on!”
3. Reward yourself.
Did you complete that hour of research? Did you dominate that smaller task? Then reward yourself for your hard work! Peruse social media for 10-15 minutes, go for a quick walk, make a cup of tea, chat with a friend and share your accomplishment. Despite your lack of motivation, you stepped up to the challenge and faced it head-on. That is fantastic! Celebrate it.
4. Reflect and regroup.
Think about your accomplishment, and take some time to reflect on why you were dreading the task so much. Ask yourself, “was it really so bad once I got started?” Chances are, it wasn’t.
The takeaway: keep your steps manageable, and keep yourself moving.
Little steps lead to big strides with consistency.
[bctt tweet=”Little steps lead to big strides with consistency.”]
My other major motivation crusher happens when I’ve been working non-stop on a project without rest.
In other words, I completely burn myself out.
You have been there, right? You’re all-in and ready-to-go at first, but then suddenly that drive dissipates; you ran out of gas in the proverbial tank.
When this mindset seeps in and restricts my productivity, it is a sign to me that I need a break. So that is number one when you are facing burnout. Take a break.
1. Take a break.
You know the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?“ I think this statement is especially pertinent here.
When I am working incredibly hard on a project, and I suddenly face burnout, I often have trouble seeing the bigger picture. I fall into tunnel vision, and I get swallowed up by the minutiae. This, in turn, leaves me frustrated, overwhelmed, and completely unmotivated. Have you ever experienced anything like this before?
I’ve finally learned that when I hit this barrier, I simply need to step back. I need to allow my brain to refresh, so I can return to the project with fresh eyes.
2. Work on something different.
I must also note, that stepping away from your project does not mean that you have to stop working completely. In order to maximize your productivity, try tackling the next project on your to-do list. And when you do, dive in head first.
If you completely absorb yourself into something different and forget about the original task at hand, you are giving that portion of your brain a rest while still maintaining your productivity.
In other words, it is OKAY to step away. By continuing your work on something else, you’re still moving forward, but also allowing for that much-needed rest.
With all of that being said, if you are completely burned out and cannot find the motivation to do anything, then you might simply need a vacation. I completely support this idea, too. Read more about that here.
3. Consider what you have accomplished, and return with fresh eyes.
After you have tackled the other items on your to-do list, and you are ready to return to your original project, take a minute and reflect on all that you’ve accomplished.
Look at those pages that were causing you such trouble, go back to those lesson plans that were driving you mad, and read through them objectively. Now that you have taken some time away, it is easier to pinpoint problem areas or think of new approaches that you couldn’t see before.
[bctt tweet=”You can now see that forest.”]
Have these tips been helpful? Are you interested in learning how to defeat the other 4 motivation crushers: comparison, disinterest, fear of failure, and impatience then click here for a FREE guide, which will help you rediscover your motivation, increase your drive, and maximize your productivity today!
Do you ever reach this burn-out phase? What do you do to keep your motivation up? Let me know below!