Knowing how to increase motivation and putting that into practice are two entirely different beasts. Most of us have a goal in mind and we might even know what we should be doing, but why can’t we seem to make that final step into actual productivity?
The awesome thing about living in the 21st century is that we have an almost unlimited amount of information at our fingertips and more knowledge than we could ever hope to use. The downside is that all this stimulation can have a negative effect on our attention span and can cause conflict with our desire to be productive.
As someone who has battled with issues relating to motivation throughout my life I have compiled a list of tips that have helped me to overcome this. So I hope some of these can inspire you to try something different today and bust through that rut.
1. Turn off your TV now
This is definitely one of the biggest time wasters in our society. It sits there, seducing us with its drivel and not only that but with the amount of channels available these days you can end up searching for hours. Okay you might say, you only have it on in the background but all that extra noise is not doing your brain any favours. Turn it off NOW!
2. Do something completely different
If you’re doing the same thing everyday life can get a little boring so mix it up a bit. If you’re a blogger who writes list articles then change it up and write a big ‘how to guide’. If you normally see clients at your house, try doing some out call sessions for a change of scenery. If you’re a guitarist who plays rock music, try learning some country or jazz. You get the point; just doing something a little different can perk your interest and keep you motivated.
3. Try and give up some of your addictions
Sometimes a lack of motivation can be due to a lack of dopamine in the brain, which in turn can cause our attention spans to decrease. Usually this can be attributed to modern life and the way it always gives you a quick fix. The internet, pornography, fast food, smartphones, alcohol and drugs, all of these can negatively affect your dopamine levels. Cutting down or abstaining from such things could greatly improve your attention span and increase motivation.
4. Pay more attention to your diet
Like the entry above, reducing your fast food intake can help stabilise your blood sugar levels which in turn will keep your energy levels from dipping. Also a little known fact is that eating an apple can stop you from feeling drowsy at night. So if you like to work into the crazy hours then this could be a nice little tip for you.
5. Change your location
Do you feel stifled sitting indoors all day? Get outside and work in the garden or go visit a coffee shop and take advantage of their Wi-Fi (and hot chocolate mmm). Doing something as simple as changing location is often enough to stimulate our brains to be more alert and that in turn can help us focus more on the task at hand.
6. Focus more on quality rather than quantity
I know from my own experience playing the guitar that I would feel guilty if I didn’t spend at least 6 hours a day practicing the damn thing. What I learned was that it isn’t the amount time you put in that matters, it is the quality of the time. 2 hours quality focused practice is far more beneficial than 6 hours of aimless noodling that led to nowhere.
7. Learn to love lists
I know you already love lists as you are here reading this now. If you currently have a gun to your head or something, then you should learn to write them regularly. I use them to plan out my day and to brainstorm ideas that otherwise might be hard to think of. Just think of a headline and then write down whatever comes to mind. You may be surprised as to what comes out.
8. Read autobiographies of successful people
I personally love reading about people who have come from nothing to achieve massive success. Their stories are always inspiring and I often learn a lot about overcoming challenges and how to accomplish goals that seem far-fetched. The best part though, is that reading such stories can turn a very unproductive day into a very productive one. These people are masters in motivating themselves and we can learn how to increase our own motivation as a result.
9. Exercise every day
If you’re having one of those days where your brain has shut down and you just feel a bit tired and not in the mood, go for a walk. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or do anything strenuous but just getting outside in the sun for 30 minutes a day could make a huge difference to your mood and energy levels.
10. If you work alone, try working with others
As someone who loves to stay in charge and micro manage everything I do I’m a little guilty of not following my own advice sometimes, yet I know that joining forces with someone can be of great benefit. Having a partner alongside you no matter what you are doing can motivate you to keep your high standards. I like to think of it as accountability. It’s not just you that you have to pay attention to; your actions now influence someone else’s results also.
Life is stressful and can sometimes get a little overwhelming. In times like this it is important to take some time out and relax. Now I’m not saying you have to sit cross legged and make an “Mmmmm” noise, but try lying down in total silence for 20 minutes focusing on just your breathing. Ideally you should keep a totally clear mind, free of any thoughts but this is hard to begin with so just do your best. There is strong evidence that those who meditate regularly have lower stress levels and blood pressure.
12. Wake up earlier
One thing that has made me far more productive is to start waking up earlier. The thought that by the time everyone else wakes up I have already done a couple of hours’ worth of work is pretty inspiring. Not only that but it sets me up for the rest of the day as I like to keep the momentum going. Some of the most successful people in business learnt a long time a go that the key to productivity and keeping themselves motivated is to start the day at an ungodly hour.
13. Stop working and have a lazy day
This may sound counter intuitive but having a day where you don’t do anything productive at all can actually be a good thing. ‘What are you talking about?’ I hear you say – ‘how can an article about how to increase motivation tell us to do nothing?’ – well sometimes we work so hard and focus on doing everything right that we just need to step away from it all. Go ahead and treat yourself. Stay in bed and watch films and really embrace your inner sloth. By the time the next day comes you should be fully recharged are raring to go.
14. Jump in at the deep end
If you feel that you aren’t being challenged enough then go crazy and do something that you previously thought may be beyond you. If you’re a writer then go for it and try that first novel or if you want to start teaching/coaching but don’t have the confidence, then book that first client anyway. Putting ourselves out there is one of the best ways to break out of our comfort zone and test what you can really accomplish.
15. Eliminate your worries
Do you have anything that lingers in your mind that stops you from fully concentrating on your day? Maybe you have various debts and payments that have to be met or you have a friend whom you had an argument with recently. Whatever it is, make those first steps to solving these problems and if you need to, get some help too. Take that weight off your mind.
16. Make sure your goals are set in stone
I don’t know about anyone else but I am far more productive when I write out a daily plan. It stops me from losing focus and allows me to just follow the schedule without worrying about what I need to do next. You can branch this out to include monthly, yearly and lifetime goals too.
17. Free up more of your time
Remember that we work to live and not live to work. For me time = money and that is the most important thing in my life. If you feel the same then see if you can reduce your working hours.
18. Just enjoy yourself
As simple as that
So there you have it. Let me know if you have any ideas in how to increase motivation that I might have missed and add them in the comments below.