Productivity & Motivation, Well Being & Mental Health

5 Ways To Get Motivated (When You Just Can’t)

Have you ever had that feeling where you just can’t? You want to go for a walk, clean the kitchen, write a new blog post, and watch that latest YouTube video on self-development from your favourite vlogger, but when you try to get going, some sort of invisible force just blocks you. No matter how hard you try, you find yourself slumped on the sofa, scrolling through your phone and watching reruns of that sitcom you’ve already seen 10 times.

We’ve all been there, and when you’re in the midst, it can feel like you’ll never get out. But I promise, you can. Recently I’ve had a few of these slumps during the pandemic. Every time it’s like my body and brain turn to mush, and I lose the ability to focus on anything for more than 3.5 minutes. The day passes in a haze, and come bedtime I have no clue what I’ve been doing for the past 15-16 hours.

If I’m having one of those days and I get up from the sofa, tie my hair in a messy bun, and do the washing up, I find it much easier to get more things done

A couple months ago I wrote about Hitting Refresh and I’ve definitely used those tactics a few times during the course of lockdown. But sometimes I don’t want, or can’t spend a few hours doing a complete overhaul. Sometimes I just need to do something to get me moving forward again. They say that action inspires more action, and I definitely find that to be true. If I’m having one of those days and I manage to get up from the sofa, tie my hair in a messy bun, and do the washing up or something, I usually find it much easier to continue with the productivity and get more things done. Then once I’ve ticked a few things off the ever-looming (at this point ever-growing) to-do list, I can do a reset if I want to. So how can you get yourself started when you’re in a slump? I’ve learned 5 tips and tricks that usually help me:

  1. Lucky Dip – I’ve written before about my Self-Care Lucky Dip but the same tactics can be applied to chores/tasks. I got this idea from a friend on Instagram. Write down everything you need to do on a piece (or pieces!) of paper. Then go through and number then one by one. Next, either use a virtual assistant like Google, Alexa, or Siri, or you can find the same thing online to randomly pick a number between 1 and the highest number you have on your list. Now go do that thing! This is great if you struggle to know what to do first, or get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things you have to do.
  2. Top Three – If you’re able to prioritise and pick which tasks are most important/most relevant to your current circumstances this is a great way to get started in a more bite-sized, manageable way. Pick the top three tasks from your list; the ones that either must get done now, or are the easiest to do for the time of day/location/weather etc. Now instead of a long, unwieldy list of everything that needs to get done, you have just 3 tasks to complete. A quick note – make sure the tasks aren’t all really big, long ones. If you give yourself 3 mammoth to-dos you’re likely to not finish them all, which will just make you feel even more demotivated. I like to pick a small, easy thing first when I’ve been struggling to get going!
  3. Accountability Buddy – Some people need external accountability to help them do things. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I personally do some much better when I’m working alongside someone else, or I’ve shared my goals/objectives with others. Pick a friend or family member who you know will hold you to task, but in a loving way and let them know your plans. This works best if you have clear, tangible goals that you’re working on. Instead of ‘make sure I’m productive today’ say ‘check in with me and make sure I do a load of washing and write my blog post by 4pm’. That way the other person knows exactly what you want from them, and can easily check in with you and see how you’re getting on.
  4. Public Accountability – This is similar to above, but with a bigger audience! If you’re active on social media, publicly declare what you’re going to be working on. This could be a tweet, a post on Facebook, or a graphic on Instagram. I’ve made a simple one you can use below, or you can create your own! When you’ve told a bunch of people what you’re going to do today, it can give you more motivation to post that ‘done’ message at the end of the day.
  5. Give Yourself A Break – Sometimes we have days that are too hard. For whatever reasons, we don’t feel like doing anything and nothing can persuade us otherwise. When that happens it’s easy to beat yourself up, feeling even more bad at your lack of productivity. If none of these tactics work, or you can’t even bring yourself to try, that’s ok. There’s no shame in resting, and sometimes we all need a day off. If you’re battling with yourself to even get dressed, and the hours are slipping by, let yourself have a break. You can take a day to rest, relax, and do nothing. The world won’t stop turning, and most likely nothing really bad will happen. If you’ve got other people or animals counting on you, then doing nothing may look a little different. Do the things you need to do, then if you can delegate some things, like getting your partner to walk the dog, or asking a parent to help with the kids, it will help ease your load. If you don’t have anyone relying on you give yourself permission to turn off your phone, log out of your emails, and just chill. If you have to go to work, or work from home, figure out the bare minimum you can do to keep people happy, then switch off. (It’s a good idea when you’re feeling better to make a small list of the essential tasks/activities you have to get done on any given day, then you can refer to it on struggle days)
A graphic titled 'Sh*t I Need To Do Today/This Week:' with five blank boxes to add your goals/objectives.
Save this to post your accountability on Instagram!

Hopefully some or all of these tips will help you when you find yourself struggling to get going.

Do you have any other tips or tricks that help you get out of an unmotivated slump? Share them below or over on Twitter!

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