You Can Make It If You Try
September 15, 2013 6:29 PM   Subscribe

I am a big believer that motivation is everything. I have some things I want to accomplish and am in a motivational slump of sorts (call it apathy). I am not depressed. What are some motivational tricks or strategies you use to build motivation levels? For example:listen to "eye of the tiger" real loud (i've done this).
posted by Xurando to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Eye of the Tiger's got nothin' on Don't Stop Me Now.
posted by headnsouth at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2013

This one has always stuck with me from my school days...


Start and motivation will follow when you begin to see results. It's so true for me.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Make yourself work until the timer goes off. When it does, I usually want to keep working.
posted by lorisr at 8:04 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


For real, just set a timer (25 minutes), know that you have a break coming (5 minutes) and keep on trucking. Take the breaks, though. I can't seem to get anything done without that technique, but I can clean and study and everything with pomodoro.

Additional tips: if you're needing to clean, tell yourself that you just have to pick up 10 things. After that, you can pick up another 10 things or do whatever you've thought about while picking up those 10 things. Just start somewhere, and the rest will come.

Make a real, concrete, list breaking down everything you need to do into tasks that take 25 minutes or less to do (even if, like for me tonight, that's just "do 25 minutes of biostatistics homework").
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:35 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree with Youremyworld. Motivation is a feeling, which you can't rely on. People who you might think are really motivated are actually just disciplined. There's a difference. Discipline comes from cultivating desired habits over time. So create a regular achievable routine, and then gradually increase your output. Habit is much more likely to get you out of bed to run on a cold morning than simply hoping to feel motivated every day.
posted by pablocake at 12:05 AM on September 16, 2013

Hi, I'm a serial procrastinator. I find it tough to gain momentum in general.

I find what helps me, is just a simple 'To Do' list, trying to get at least one thing done a day, even if it's something lame, like "post letter" or "pay bill" -- to tick it off and see what other task I can do from there.

Also, breaking big tasks down into chunks, if it's something like 'study'. And being really specific. Like, instead of "write novel today," and procrastinating because the task seems daunting, I make the task specific, like "write for 60 minutes." Then I kinda pat myself on the back at the end, even if I only did a little. Often I feel like keeping it up, after the first increment.

Starting really is the hardest part.

And visualization. Visualizing doing the thing I'm putting off. So, for example, when I really want to eat junk food, or whatever, or crave something 'bad' or easy or lazy -- I'll sit there and visualize myself making a salad, or cooking something healthy from scratch. I'll visualize eating and enjoying it, which usually motivates me to want that thing over the other thing, and I go and do it.

As for songs, dude. 80s music was rife with motivational soundtracks.

The Moment of Truth
You're the Best
No Easy Way Out
She's a Maniac
Burning Heart
Hearts on Fire
Far From Over

You're welcome.
posted by Dimes at 2:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need two things: a timer and freedom.

Switch off the internet and set your timer. Work for 25 minutes and rest for 10 minutes (REST, not surf the internet, the internet stays off).

At the end of the day, see how much you've accomplished.

Only then will you feel motivated.
posted by dumdidumdum at 9:17 AM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: Just a slight clarification late in the day. This isn't about procrastination as much as whether I want to do these things at all. I think that is a subtle distinction but important.
posted by Xurando at 12:14 PM on September 16, 2013

I've achieved some... well, clarity with goals? E.g. if I'm not sure whether I really want to do them.
What I do, is write down each day, 10 things I'd like to do, have, achieve, fix, etc.

Trick is - they can only be things I genuinely *want* that day.

Some days, I want to have a loud, busy trip through south east asia. Other days, I just want to go to a cottage on the weekend where I can sleep in, and have time to myself.
Some days I want to learn ukulele, other days, drummer in a band. An icecream.

It turns out, some things I had on my 'official goal list', actually didn't come up very often - most days I felt pretty 'meh' about it. Other things, I didn't have them identified as 'goals' as such, but they were consistent, almost daily niggles.

Other things, when I realised that not only were they goals, I really *did* want them every day, it helped me put plans and action in place to achieve them.


In what will seem like the opposite approach to the above (but can be done simultaneously). Make a list of what you are currently 'trying to do', things you 'should be' working on (and probably aren't).

Then cross out half of it.
Seriously, tell yourself you'll worry about the minor ones when you've got the more important issues sorted. They're just using up mental energy by feeling you should be doing them.

E.g. I need a new flat, have family drama, want to get my license and buy a car, should be looking for a new job, etc...

Scratch the last things off. I'll sort out job searching once I have the new flat. I'll just sort out the first two at the moment.

The first technique is like brainstorming, and identifying motivation. The second, is discarding mental worries that are acting as energy sappers. Set a date on the calendar when you will re-consider adding particular goals back, but until then, just remind yourself it's not currently a priority.

Third, from Neil Fiore's the 'Now Habit'.
You have to have down time. If you are currently doing 'nothing' that will sound bizarre, but you need to have scheduled time where you are NOT ALLOWED to work on things, so that you actually get a mental break. Same strategy as number two.
It also gives you kind of a deadline feeling, because you can only work on things during the time you are supposed to do them.
posted by Elysum at 9:58 PM on September 18, 2013

Put a big x on your calendar days every day you make progress. Numbers really have a behavioral impact.
posted by xammerboy at 5:14 PM on September 20, 2013

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