How to motivate yourself to get to work

By Brittany Taylor

Right now, I’m staring at my computer screen wishing I wasn’t writing a blog post. I’d much rather, say, watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the 50th time. Or scroll through r/relationships. Or stare at the crack in the ceiling.

But right now, I’m forcing my fingers to move over the keyboard. I am writing this blog post. And because you might be hanging out on the internets wishing you didn’t have to a work thing, either, I am going to write a blog post that tells you exactly how to motivate yourself when you really, really don’t want to.

‘Cause apparently, adulthood is a thing and it includes doing things other than binging Harry Potter movies.

Damn it.

action plan

How to motivate yourself

I’m one of those people who loves to read…until you assign me a book. And I love to write—I do! Really!—but sometimes, when I know I have to do it, it becomes the most awful activity in the world.

Still, business is business and work is work, and that means doing things you don’t necessarily want to do at the time. So, onward together!

This is how I psych myself up to do the stuff I don’t really want to do—or, at minimum, begrudgingly do them, anyway. Steal these motivators and get shiz done, yo, ‘cause that’s what adults who own businesses do, damn it.

Set a timer for 5 minutes and do the thing

This problem-solver is at the top of the list for a reason: It’s the first one I turn to when my brain is in “do I really have to?!” mode. It’s easy. All you have to do is fire up whatever it is you need to do—in my case, it was writing this blog post—and set a timer for 5 minutes. Usually by the time the timer dings, I’m invested in the work I’m doing and I don’t want to stop; the timer got the ball rolling just enough for my own internal motivation to take over.

Occasionally, I do stare at my screen and call it quits after those long 300 seconds are over. It’s a rare thing, and when it happens, I let it go. And letting it go becomes easier because, hey, I tried.

Take a ride on the affirmation train (or find yourself a mantra)

I know affirmations and mantras are on the woo-woo side of life, but people swear by them for a reason. Personally, I’ve found that when I’m feeling down about myself, my life, or my business, I feel less motivated to do anything, whether it’s writing a blog post or working on a client project or logging on to social media.

Affirmations and mantras are free and easy ways to lift your spirits and your self-confidence in seconds. It’s important to pick one that resonates with you. I find many of the more spiritual ones to be a bit too godly for my tastes, so I lean toward self-empowerment. The mantra I’ve been turning to lately is: Raise the bar, then exceed it. I repeat it to myself a few times, sometimes while I’m staring myself down in the mirror, and after a few rounds, I’m feeling motivated and ready to dive in.

Switch gears to gain inspiration

At a writers’ festival I attended recently, we discussed the importance of escaping worries and screens and all the things we use to keep ourselves busy. The conclusion was that boredom is essential to the creative process. When we’re bored, we daydream. Our thoughts run wild. And when that happens, we tend to come up with interesting solutions that solve the problems we’ve been fretting over.

When I’m consumed by my worries—or over-exposed to technology—I look for an exit. I go out to lunch, I grab a cup of hot chocolate, I run an errand. Anything that will take me away from my laptop and my iPhone, and expose me to other people and surroundings is game. And, without fail, I find myself ready to get back to work by the time I’m on my way home.

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- Brittany Taylor