How do you stay motivated and on task?
April 18, 2010 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Tips and tricks for staying motivated and on track for a big task?

Let's say you have a big task or project coming due at some point in the near-term future. It could be a big test, an interview, a presentation, a project at work, a home modeling project, a wedding, training for a marathon, whatever. What are your tips and tricks for staying motivated and on task between now and when the project/event/test/task is due?

I'm taking a big test the first week of June and am seeking some advice as to how to stay motivated.

(Please note I am not looking for study tips here.)

posted by dfriedman to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Milestones. It's not a big task, it's a collection of smaller tasks. Marking each milestone off shows yourself progress, done, done, done, done... instead of this big lump of a task which is intimidating and dis-heartening.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:13 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always make little schedules for myself, with lots of small little sub tasks. It's incredibly satisfying to cross off a task, and then I reward myself with watching a tv show for half an hour or eating a scoop of ice cream.
posted by kylej at 5:25 PM on April 18, 2010

This post has some good ideas on getting over those "I'd rather be doing something else" humps.
posted by chiefthe at 6:52 PM on April 18, 2010

Remember to "put a handle on it" before you put it down/take a break/leave your desk. In my case that usually means writing down the next few 2- to 3- minute duration tasks and leaving that list in an obvious place.

If you tend to avoid thinking about huge projects, you might also try meditation; practice laying on your back and letting thoughts about the project drift in and out of mind. Give the negative-outcome thoughts a gentle positive spin as you start to feel stress coming on.

Hope it goes well!
posted by circular at 9:27 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wrote a popular essay on this topic awhile ago: How to Stay Motivated.

The simplest effective trick I know is to keep the big happy end goal in mind while doing the short term unpleasant/dull tasks required to make that goal possible. Put something that signifies that goal, a picture, a sentence, a word, up somewhere you will see it every day. The more often you can keep that big goal in mind, the more likely it is you'll prevent yourself from inventing reasons not to work towards that goal.
posted by Berkun at 1:05 AM on April 19, 2010

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