7 ways to stay motivated (or get motivated in the first place)

Are you a self-motivator or do you need a nudge or a carrot to keep going? I'm a bit of both depending on the task at hand but over the years, I've come up with a number of ways to motivate myself.

1. Treat Yourself

This is the 'carrot' I mentioned above. Promise yourself that when (not if) you complete the task, you'll treat yourself to something. What that 'thing' is depends of course on you. You might choose simply to have a cup of tea and sit down to read a book. You might decide to go out somewhere. You might even take yourself shopping for a new bag, book or other item. You know what kind of treat will keep you going (plus what you can afford in the case of a shopping trip) but make it something that really delights you and raises a smile.

2. Visualise the end result

This is not to be confused with day dreaming. That way, only procrastination lies. You can visualise the end result in your mind, have an image on your computer screen or go the whole hog and put together a dream board (see comment above about day dreaming and procrastination - don't spend all your time on simply putting together the dream board and not getting the actual task done). When you feel bogged down in the amount of work you have to do, return to that image.

3. Break the task down into smaller chunks

Sometimes, the tasks we have to complete seem so immense that we're too scared to even start. With every house move I've gone through (and there have been many of them), the experience of shutting the door after the delivery of our  things and facing the mountain of boxes to unpack has reduced me to tears. There was so much to do that I didn't know where to start, but on each occasion I broke the 'mountain' down into rooms. I would tackle the kitchen first, and so on. This allowed me to chip away at the multitude of boxes in a way that didn't paralyse me with fear.

4. Leave it to the last minute

I can feel many of you shaking your heads at this particular piece of advice but for some people (I'm raising my hand) and with certain tasks, this can work. For some reason, flying round my house like a demented tornado while I clean in the run up to a visit by family tends to motivate me more than having a daily cleaning routine. It's probably best not to leave everything until the last minute but it can work as a way to motivate on occasion.

5. Have everything you need to hand

There's something very satisfying about being prepared. I use this method when I'm writing. Whether, I'm camped on the sofa with a pad and a pen, or working on my laptop in my study, I ensure that I have everything that I need to hand so there is no reason for me to stop midway to go in search of something. Having everything prepared and laid out means that I can focus on the task at hand. 

6. Have a plan

Now, this very much comes down to the kind of person you are. There's a phrase in the writing world - plotter or pantser - which means that either you prepare a plot line before you write and stick to it, or you don't and therefore you are 'flying by the seat of your pants' when you write. Most of my life has been spent doing the latter but there are occasions when having a plan shows me the way forward and motivates me to keep going. I plan my murder mystery plays, for instance, from initial notes and customer query, to character list and what I need to reveal in the play, to the final script delivered to the customer within their time frame. I've tried to plan other tasks (like cleaning the house) and failed to keep to the plan because, well, I'm just naughty like that. 

7. Set a timer

When I'm in the flow of my writing, I can happily carry on for hours, but when the words refuse to come and have to be dragged into existence, I set myself twenty minute slots (using the alarm on my mobile phone). I agree with myself to write for that twenty minutes and then, if I'm still struggling, to stop. If I'm not struggling, then I can just carry on. It's similar to breaking the task down into smaller chunks. If you are facing a difficult task, then knowing that you only have to do twenty minutes or one hour of it before you can stop, can be a real motivator.

How do you motivate yourself?


  1. Some good advice.
    I always thought I could self motivate - but at the moment I seem to have lost this ability.
    Am thinking I will try the timer idea :-)

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I think we all go through periods where we lack motivation. For me, it's called Monday morning.

  2. I raise my hand for #4 too. But sometimes setting a time limit and having a plan (a makeshift one at best) works well for me too.

  3. I'm doing #3, #5 and #6. I need to start brainstorming on rewards and doing #2. Thanks for the list!

    1. Good plan, Claudine. Lots of treats I say.


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