GUEST POST: Marcus has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the UK’s NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus runs psysci a psychology and science blog designed to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.
Sometimes, the hardest part of completing a task is maintaining the motivation to simply see it through to the end. Whether this is at work or school, if the task is difficult or dull there can be a myriad of more attractive alternatives trying to distract you – mainly cat videos on YouTube.
Here are 7 simple tips to help you keep up your motivation until the job is done.
1. Restrict Cat Videos
Whatever your weakness – whether it is cat videos, Wikipedia or checking Facebook – the internet is full of distractions to sap your motivation. At the same time, so much of our work is completed on laptops and computers the internet is just a couple of clicks away.
You can’t just turn it off either as you need it for research. In this case, you could consider one of the many apps – such as Freedom – that can be downloaded to laptops or tablets and which can be set to block specific websites. This keeps your internet access in place for research, whilst stopping you wasting an hour on Facebook.
2. Eat a Tomato
Well, not an actual tomato, but a Pomodoro – which is Italian for tomato. A man called Francesco Crillo invented the Pomodoro Technique in the 80’s, and it is a great way to maintain motivation over the course of a task.
The method involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and working hard at your task – no distractions – for the full 25 minutes. When the timer goes, you get 5 minutes to do whatever you want – but when the 5 minutes is up you are back in your chair and working for another 25 minutes.
This is a great way to maintain motivation as it breaks tasks down into little chunks, and gives you regular little rewards to work toward.
3. Sit Up Straight
Body language can really play a big part in maintaining motivation. So even if you work at home, make sure you sit up straight at your desk. When you take a break, don’t slouch around the office, walk with a straight spine and shoulders back.
These are what body language experts refer to as “Power Poses” and you will be surprised at the positive energy that they can create will seep through into your work. Slouching in your chair can make it easier to lose motivation – so sit up nice and straight and keep the work flowing.
4. Look the Part
We mentioned above the people who work at home – and this tip is very much for them. If you are one of the growing numbers of people who work from home, then make sure you put on appropriate clothes if you find your motivation slipping.
Yes, people who work at home often boast of working in their pajamas all day and that can be fun. But the novelty soon wears off, and like in the tip above, a sloppy attitude to your clothes can promote a sloppy attitude to your work – and the associated loss of motivation.
5. A Fresh Start
Don’t be afraid to have a fresh start – and also don’t be afraid to have multiple fresh starts on a single working day!
Even if you follow all of these tips, there will be times when your motivation slips, and you stop working and start procrastinating – even for just a few minutes! The important thing is to recognize this is OK, and that it will happen from time to time – and to give yourself a fresh start after each lapse to begin working effectively again.
If you don’t give yourself that fresh start and you write off a day of work just because you lost motivation for a little while you are going to do more damage by allowing that pile of work to grow even bigger!
6. Feed your Brain
No matter what task you are trying to achieve, your brain is going to pulling the hardest shift. So take every opportunity to keep it well fed – and happy!
You could, for example, make oily fish a regular part of your diet – perhaps a nice mackerel salad for lunch a couple of times a week. You’ll find your motivation stays higher when your brain is running efficiently, and working its way easily through a task.
Even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible to get everything we need through our diet, natural supplements are a great alternative when you need a top-up.
7. Treat Time
Finally don’t be afraid to give yourself a treat every now and then. You could perhaps break tasks down into milestones with a small reward after completing each one – say a chocolate button or a couple of grapes for smaller milestones and a coffee and a biscuit for bigger ones.
Little treats for keeping on track is one of the time-honored motivational techniques – so certainly do not underestimate it!
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Also published on Medium.