Career

Five Ways To Motivate Yourself When You Don’t Want To Do Any Work

We’re all busy people, and sometimes it’s hard to muster the energy you need to finish that important job or reach that looming deadline – here’s some techniques to help get you there.

Motivation can be an elusive feeling that seems almost impossible to muster up when you actually need it. However, there are some ways of helping build the energy, focus and willpower that you need to have in order to finish a big task, reach a deadline or even just get through the average working day.

#1 Plan

One of the best ways to make sure you enter a project with sufficient motivation to compete it is to plan ahead. This can mean all sorts of things – putting aside a few days to work on it so you’re not doing it at the last minute, having a good night’s sleep/ not going out drinking beforehand so you’re feeling your best, or making sure you’ve done all your research.

Another great way to plan is to break the project up into manageable chunks, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work in front of you. Three days with a couple of hours work for each is much more palatable than spending a whole day trying to reach a deadline, and will make your motivation easier to manage. Also, your standard of work will probably be higher, too.

#2 Reward yourself

You know what’s a great motivation? A snack. One of the best ways to keep your motivation up is to reward yourself. Rewards can be as little as eating some chocolate after an hour of steady work, to buying yourself some cool shoes at the end of a project. It’s great to have something other than the project itself to work towards, as it can be the thing that you focus on when everything else begins to seem hopeless.

There’s also the benefits of utilising positive psychology over negative – you’re more likely to remain happy and able to work if you focus on the reward, than if you flagellate yourself by focusing on the guilt and punishment of not succeeding.

#3 Peer pressure

Sometimes it’s more difficult to disappoint someone else than it is yourself. You’ve got to hold yourself to account, so getting other people involved in the stakes of your project can help raise your motivation levels.

By telling all your friends that you’re going to finish something by a certain time, you’ve got the dual benefits of knowing they will make fun of you if you don’t succeed, and that they probably won’t try to distract you by asking you out that night. One method I’ve heard of before is the idea of giving a friend $100 – if you reach your goal, you get that money back. If you fail, your friend keeps it. That would keep me motivated.

#4 Take a break

One of the easiest ways to lose motivation is when you look into your future and all you see is work stretching out in front of you, forever and eternal. The idea of ‘knuckling down’ and working through the night might sound appealing in a masochistic sort of way, but it’s extremely inefficient in terms of maintaining motivation.

It’s the kind of process that leads to procrastination – and procrastination is bad because it’s your brain taking breaks, but making you feel bad about it. Instead, schedule in regular breaks; let yourself make tea and eat bananas and have a look at Twitter regularly. Go for a nice long walk in the sun and get lunch. All these things will make you feel healthier and less stressed, and increase your motivation.

#5 Focus

This one might seem obvious, but focus is a lot more than just trying to stare at your current project until it’s done. True focus means no multi-tasking, which is incredibly difficult for a lot of us these days. If you’re struggling with motivation for a big or important job, it’s critical that you’re not distracted by other things you’re working on, or needy clients or a full inbox.

Focus means making your project the priority, so your motivation isn’t diffused over several conflicting things. It also means ignoring Twitter or Facebook, not answering your phone when your friends call and not vacuuming the bedroom because it’s looking dirty.


Patrick Lenton is a writer and digital marketer. He runs Town Crier, a social media and marketing consultancy for authors.