People are living creatures, not robots. While there is often a lot of work to be done, we're not always ready to just put everything else aside and work. Its especially bad during the warmer summer days when all we can think about is being outside in our yards, or on a boat or just enjoying the sun on a nice long walk.
Sound familiar? Thankfully, even on your most challenging days, there are some strategies you can use to focus your mind to become more motivated, productive and professionally satisfied:
1. Tell someone what you plan to do.
Social pressure can influence your personal motivation strongly. If you have a big project to do, or a major goal for the day, tell a friend, family member or even a colleague what you intend to accomplish. Knowing that person will ask you about your achievement, you’ll feel extra pressure to do what you said you were going to.
If you want even more pressure, consider broadcasting your goal to a whole group of people, like your entire department. I try to tell my fellow sales managers what I hope to accomplish, and I use that as a motivator to push myself when I feel like winding down.
2. Start your task.
One of the hardest parts of any task, especially a challenging one, is getting started. Once you’re in the middle of something, it’s much easier to keep that momentum going. To overcome this initial hurdle, commit yourself to at least starting your task.
The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll achieve that flow. This charge may seem intimidating or difficult if the task is beyond your usual scope, but do your best to stick with it, I'm betting you'll surprise yourself.
3. Set a timer to give yourself a break.
You can also motivate yourself by setting a timer, forcing yourself to work for a fixed amount of time and putting a break on the schedule for the near future. This simultaneously puts a limit on how much effort you’ll need to expend and gives you something to look forward to -- a break. This is the perfect way to use your SmartPhone or SmartWatch. Set a reminder to work on your project, then look forward for your reminder to take a break. Now that we finally have warmer weather, use this break to walk around MSU campus or hop on the River Trail and enjoy your surroundings.
4. Change your "self-talk."
If you find yourself saying or thinking things like “This is too challenging,” or “I’m stressed out of my mind,” try rephrasing those thoughts to things like, “This is an exciting challenge that will stretch me professionally,” or “I’m going to feel so accomplished when I’m done with this.” Sometimes, a simple mental change is all it takes to radically transform your perspective.
5. Keep a task list.
Start keeping a list of tasks to do, and write down everything -- even small, minutes-long tasks throughout your day. Whenever you get something done, cross it off the list or put a check mark next to it. This will help you stay organized but, more importantly, will give you a boost of motivation every time you cross something off. Do you ever feel like you were so busy in a day but yet didn't get anything on your list accommplished? It might sound silly, but it keeps me motivated - sometimes I'll add something I did that day to my to-do list just so I can check it off. At the end of the day I get the full and complete list of my days accomplishments and I get the gears moving a bit by scratching off something from my list.
6. Treat Yourself.
Searching for motivation? Okay, give yourself some - and I don't just mean the satisfaction of a job well done. When you accomplish a project or achieve a goal you've set for yourself, have a real reward that you're excited to have! Sometimes I'll say to myself if I get a long list of things done that I'll reward myself by going to one of my favorite shops in Eastwood Towne Center and buying a new top. I find it’s the little things that keep us going and it’s okay to be good to yourself. Not a shopper? Reward yourself with a massage or ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store. Or maybe grab a great cup of coffee from Blue Owl or a bag of fresh roasted nuts from the Peanut Shop.
Human beings can be productive but we're not robots programmed to work all day. Understand what motivates you, push yourself, use these strategies and find yourself balancing your workload and quality of life like a real pro.