Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ways to Get Motivated and Be More Productive

A few days ago I was lying in bed when someone turned on some funky music in the other room. Immediately I felt inspired to do something like (as weird as it may sound) clean the house. 

For as long as I can remember, when my Dad wants to have a big clean up (they usually don’t work though and the house just gets more messy, but regardless) he turns on some music and gets to work. I suppose this has inspired me to be motivated to clean whilst listening to music.

Anyway, the other day when I heard the music it led me to, no, not get up and clean the house, but think of some other ways that I can get motivated and be more productive (and maybe help you stay on track too).

Write a list

To me, this is the first and most important step to making sure you stay motivated and productive. Write down everything you have to do. It could be for another day at work or getting a specific project done, just write down every little thing. This way you won’t forget anything and will have a clear guide to work from. Before you write your list though, read the next few ideas so that your list can be just right!

Break it down

A big, general list can seem really daunting. The tasks will seem too big and the list so long that you don’t know where to start!

To make it a bit more manageable, break down your tasks and your day (or whatever time limit you have set, it may be a day, it may be 20 minutes, it may be a month or two) so that you are more specific with what you have to do.

For example, instead of writing “clean the kitchen” (or in a sub-heading under “clean the kitchen”), write the more specific tasks you have to do like: “pack the dishwasher”, “sweep the floor” and “wipe the benches”.

Or if you are studying, instead of writing “science study”, write down “read over physics notes taken in class yesterday”, “create flashcards relating to the notes” and “complete the physics practise page in the book”.

This way there will be no panic that a task is too big! And you will feel more accomplished because there are more things you can cross of when you finish. If you simply wrote “clean the kitchen”, it could take you an hour before you would be able to cross off the first checkpoint and feel like you’re actually getting anywhere. With the littler tasks, they take less time and effort, so you can easily 
cross off more checkpoints faster and feel very accomplished!

Make your goals accomplishable

This leads on from the above idea of breaking your tasks down so that they become more accomplishable. Don’t be unrealistic with yourself! As much as you would love to sew a whole quilt, clean the whole house or study everything you need to know for your upcoming exam, in just one day, you’d have to be Superwoman if you could. As a normal person, tasks too big like this will make you want to give up because it’s too hard and then that will lead you to feel like you have failed, which isn’t good for anyone.

So instead of making a whole quilt in one day, you could try to make a quilt in one week. You can divide one huge task into smaller, more accomplishable goals. For example, Monday could be“research”, which could then be broken down (like shown above) to include “look on Pinterest for ideas”, “create a inspiration page”, “sketch a pattern” and then “go to Spotlight to buy fabric”.


Always get the most important or annoying tasks done first and then move on to the easier and less important tasks. You might feel sluggish first thing in the morning and then again towards the end of the day, so the best time for hard tasks that need a lot of concentration would be around 11am. The worst thing is definitely leaving big things until the last minute, so get on top of tasks as soon as possible instead of letting them build up. Easier said than done, I know…

Set the atmosphere

Finally, where this whole post stemmed from! Like I said, I like to have music playing when I’m cleaning. But then when I’m writing or studying, I find it too distracting, so it just depends on the task! You might not have control over all of your atmospheric conditions, especially if you work in an office cubicle or are cleaning the house, but some other ways to make sure you have the right 
atmosphere include:

* Lighting
Lighting is really important to keep you motivated and productive! Dark rooms can make you sleepy and it can be difficult to see detail, so investing in good lighting is a must. This can be as simple as drawing back the curtains or doing your work in the day to make the most of the natural 
light. It is the best after all! Don’t delay in fixing light bulbs if they blow and maybe even buy yourself a new lamp to use in your workspace.

* Temperature

Don’t try to work in a space that is too hot or cold for you. It will only make you less productive. If you’re working outside, in summer, try to get your work done during the evenings or early mornings when it’s cooler and likewise in winter, do your work in the middle of the day to make the most of the sun. Heaters and air-conditioning are your friend! If you don’t have them already, even just a small portable desk fan or feet heater can be all you need to keep comfortable.

* Views

I have read that it is less productive to place a desk against a wall. If you’re lucky enough to have the space, positioning your desk in the middle of the room is better. Purple is a great colour for the walls in an office or workspace as it has been historically associated with creativity and wealth. It wouldn’t hurt to try, would it? Limit the clutter around and create a place that inspires you to work. Plants, candles, music and incense are all ways you could create a nicer workplace. And apparently, angular shapes and harsh lines will reduce tiredness and increase productivity! 

Take breaks

Don’t be afraid to take breaks! Sometimes they’re all you need to become 100% motivated again. I know that I some cases, I am not one to take breaks and I become very stressed. I feel like I’m running out of time and don’t have any time to stop. But then I’m not really fun to be around so maybe it would be better if I took a break, found my positive attitude and motivation again and then got back 
to work.

You can take a break by going for a walk outside (which is especially great when you’re locked up in a
dark room looking at a screen all day), plus you could even use your break to do something useful so it doesn’t feel like you’re just wasting time. Go collect your mail from the mailbox, return something to a neighbour or go and grab a coffee. Or how about a quick 5-10 minute workout during your 
break? Get fit and motivated! Nice!

But maybe all you need is to just sit down and breathe. Not doing anything at all for 5 minutes won’t hurt anyone! You can think about what you’re going to do after your break but don’t think too deeply because it could just stress you out, which is the complete opposite of what you should be doing!

Think about the reward

If you know that something good is going to come from your work, you can use the reward as a way to keep motivated. You might like to gift yourself a reward, such as a new dress or a chocolate bar once having completed something but most rewards will come around themselves. For example a promotion for hard work at your job or a clean house after spending a few days thoroughly cleaning or 100% on a science test after weeks of study.

Don’t forget about the reward and when you do receive it, enjoy it as much as 

Do you have any other great tips for getting motivated and being more productive? I'd love to hear them!

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