Motivation is a very elusive thing. One moment you could be struck with a surge of productive energy, and it could be suddenly drained from you the next. And in such a hectic, unstructured time where days bleed together, it is even harder to stay on top of even the most basic of tasks, let alone reaching long-term goals. So how do we keep business as usual when the world is anything but? Here are some ways that you can build and maintain motivation while still paying mind to your mental and physical wellbeing.
Never underestimate the power of a To-Do list. Those unchecked boxes at the beginning of a day may be daunting, but it will help set out and prioritize what needs to be taken care of. But make sure not to get ahead of yourself. Try to make your daily lists achievable – be mindful of the time that each task takes, as well as your own energy levels throughout the day. It helps to gauge how long a task will take and set aside time for what is most important or what takes the longest first. Structuring your time in this manner is one easy way to remain on task throughout the day.
Nobody likes to get stuck in a rut. Doing the same thing day in and day out is just a surefire way to make you want to never work again. However, some semblance of routine is necessary to be able to stay on task and find a balance between work time and play time. You don’t need a rigid itinerary for the entire week, but starting a practice of writing at 11am or going on a walk after dinner every day can help get your mind and body in the rhythm of productivity.
Timers aren’t just good for the kitchen! If you’re having a hard time focusing, turn your phone to airplane mode and use it as a timer to give yourself uninterrupted time to work. I use this tactic when it comes to writing – I set aside at least 20 minutes every night solely for my current project. And sometimes I find myself working well past the 20-minute mark after I get into the groove of writing. It may seem short, but it’s a simple way to make consistent progress every day. So even if you’re only able to focus for 20 minutes at a time, you’ll be able to make more progress and stay a bit more motivated to work throughout the day.
Disappointing as it may be, our brains are not quite wired to work at 100% for a long duration of time. Lucky for us, that’s what breaks are for. During a normal workday, you may be used to a structured break system, and you could try to replicate that at home. However, if you’re finding it hard to focus on work throughout the day, try taking a break every 90 minutes. It may be more than you’re used to, but it’s important to reenergize both your body and brain often to remain productive. Just taking 15 minutes to get away from the screen and stretch your limbs every hour and a half can help keep your mind geared for work!
Free Time and Self Care
Even with being stuck inside all day, it seems as if there’s hardly any time for writing, other hobbies, or just sitting on the couch watching a favorite show to get your mind off of the world. But to make sure you’re able to focus and reach your work and personal goals, allocating time for yourself is a must. Setting attainable goals every day is not only important to not overwhelm yourself, but also to ensure that you have an hour or two for self-care and free time. And remember that time spent taking care of yourself is not wasted time – taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important as getting through your daily tasks.
Take Things in Stride
It may sound silly, but we often forget that we’re only human. We’re prone to have good days, bad days, and all sorts of days in between. Whether you have a hundred things on your To-Do list or only five, take it easy. At the end of the day, the most important thing you need to achieve is caring for yourself.
We hope that you get some use out of these tips! If you’re finding yourself in search of that creative spark, check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for daily writing prompts, motivational quotes, and more! Stay safe, and happy writing.
Alexis Harmon is a UCLA student studying English and Education Studies in addition to working for the Writers’ Program. She strives to write well, foster good vibes at all times and love cats to the point of annoyance.