I sat cross-legged in front of the small pile of boxes in my husband’s basement office. I was determined to go through each one, yet feeling defeated by the thought that I may not have the time nor the energy to make any real headway. Then I proceed to analyze my way out of it again.
It’s been months since my family loaded up the tangible trappings of our lives and moved to our current home. The clothes are unpacked. The furniture is in place. The main living areas are thoroughly lived in. Yet, we still have boxes scattered here and there that I continue to rummage through without emptying them. A few of them, I walk by multiple times a day, dreading even the thought of digging through another cardboard box. Resolving that I’ll get to them soon, I put the task off for another week and try to pretend the boxes are not the major eyesores they are.
As someone who tries to avoid unnecessary clutter, it’s hard to leave something undone like that. But getting motivated to tackle that job has proven to be much more difficult. The initial excitement about the move and all the adrenaline it fueled left with the newness of spring. And now, the beginning of fall has us in school mode, preparing for upcoming birthdays, and on a fast track towards the holiday season.
The Key To It All
It’s easy to get excited about doing things that don’t take much work or that have instant gratification but unpacking miscellaneous boxes in the midst of doing the mundane tasks I do every day does not fall in those categories. Neither do a lot of other things. A TEDtalk by John Davidson reminded me of that. He basically said that sometimes it takes doing the things we don’t enjoy to get to the results we want. So we just have to start doing the work.
No matter what task we’re up against, we often hear the first step is the hardest. That’s understandable. We can be stepping out on faith to do something we’ve never done before, committing to a road paved with challenges, or simply doing things we don’t want to do.
But how can we start doing the work and stop making excuses and talking ourselves out of it? In many cases, all it takes is starting to build the momentum to keep going. I’ve read so many motivational quotes about things seeming impossible until they’re complete and how starting right where you are is the key to getting stuff done. And although I agree, I know I have to keep telling myself that moving slowly is better than not moving at all—even if it doesn’t fit my self-imposed timetable and I have to empty those boxes one little item at a time.
Help For Getting Things Done
Over the years, I’ve found ten things that help me stay focused, get organized, and keep moving when I need to get things done. I hope they can help you too.
Prayer is number one for me when I’m feeling unmotivated. Although I may do other things to get motivated, praying always helps me refocus my mind and leads to the change of heart I need to get to the right space. I may pray for wisdom, clarity, direction, help and even motivation itself. I am a firm believer in the scriptures where the Bible says we can cast our cares on God (1 Peter 5:7), and that when we pray and humbly make our requests known to him, His peace will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
2. Segmenting The Days
Dividing my day helps me get a better picture of what I can really do with my time. It also makes it easier for me to move through the day’s tasks more focused and guilt-free because I know I’m only giving each task a certain amount of time at a certain point in my day.
3. Writing Down Everything
Now that I am a mom, I feel like it’s so easy to get distracted and forget things. That’s why I’ve started making lists and notes about things the moment I think about them. And I keep my notes in the same place. That way I don’t spend a lot of time trying to remember something I forgot.
4. Using Technology
I don’t know how I would get some things done without technology. I have apps for my daily to-do list, my weekly chores, groceries, budgets, and activities. They not only allow me to stay organized, but their ease of use helps me improve my overall workflow. Then, there’s the TV apps that keep my kids entertained so I can actually get to work without constant interruptions.
5. Turning Larger Tasks Into Smaller Projects
When I don’t want to do something on my to-do list, I may be feeling so overwhelmed with life that the task seems more daunting than it really is. I get anxious, worry about all the scenarios that could keep me from getting it done, and make excuses for why I can’t work anyway. All the while, the end of the road seems so far away. In those moments, I find that it helps to break the job into smaller tasks. The ability to get one thing done easily always gives me the motivation to do the next thing.
6. Timed Challenges
Sometimes I’m able to focus and get things done quickly when I create a challenge for myself. I often give myself a time limit or set a deadline and see how much I can do. Even if I miss the mark, I’m so fired up that I refuse to quit.
7. Establishing Rewards
Researchers talk about the benefits of rewards when it comes to motivation at work. This is no different. Having something good to look forward to can make the most difficult task worthwhile. When the immediate results of the task itself aren’t enough, it helps me to come up with my own reward like a special treat or watching a TV show I like.
8. Getting In The Zone
Whenever I have something to do that I don’t really enjoy, I like to do whatever I need to do—within reason—to make the experience more pleasant. I guess you could call it getting in the zone. It could be doing the work at a certain time of day, listening to a certain type of music, or working in a certain spot. It makes it easier to stay focused and finish without complaining the whole time or seeing the whole thing as torture.
9. Recharging Breaks
Most times when I don’t feel motivated to do something I need to do, it’s because I’ve hit a wall and need to find a way to recharge. m feeling tired, drained, or hungry. So, I need to find a way to recharge. Sometimes that means refocusing on my relationship with God and renewing my spirit. Other times, that mean going to bed earlier, sleeping a bit later, or simply relaxing and taking a mental break because I need the rest. Whether it’s taking a night out with friends, asking someone to babysit for a few hours, or using your fringe moments or the kids’ quiet time to do something you enjoy—sometimes a little self-care can go a long way in helping you refresh and recharge to get the right perspective and get started on the next project.
10. Find Sources Of Inspiration
If I’m having a really hard time getting myself motivated, I love to look for others who can inspire me. In the age of YouTube, Pinterest, blogs, and social media, we have so much inspiration at our fingertips. Watching or reading about someone doing what I need to do goes a long way to help you see that you can do it too.