Stay motivated - 4 steps to get things done
There are a lot of articles about motivation with plenty usefull tips and advices. Unfortunatelly, there is a big distance between reading about them and using them - I know it from autopsy. We have the knowledge, but we don't know how to use it. That's why I want to share with you my 4 steps I use to stay motivated. In my opinion they are the most effective ones out of all the methods I've found on the Internet so far.
Before I will show you the 4 steps to stay motivated, I would like to present to you the motivation as a mathematical equation. I think it is very accurate and explains why the methods chosen by me work.
As you can see, it consists of 4 variables. To increase your motivation, you have to:
- maximize the blue ones - expectancy and value
- minimize the red ones - impulsiveness and delay
Below I will briefly explain, what each variable means.
Expectancy is what you truly think about you doing the task. The stronger you believe that you can complete it, the bigger is the expectancy factor. If from the beginning you don't believe, that you can do something, then there is no chance, that you will be motivated to do it.
Value is what you are getting from completing the task, or what you are getting while completing the task. We can say, that it is your reward, which you expect for doing the task. The bigger the reward, the bigger motivation. For instance - higher salary or a bonus may motivate you to change your job or to do better at your work.
Impulsiveness is your ability to stay on track. It says how well you can resist all the distractions around you, that disturb you and pull you away from completing your task. If you are constantly interrupting your work, checking notifications on your phone, doing sidetrack tasks, it means that your impulsiveness is very high, which decreases your motivation.
Delay is the time, that has to pass until you get rewarded for your task. The bigger task and the longer you have to wait for benefits from doing it, the lower is your motivation. That's why you don't have to motivate yourself to eat fastfood or watch Netflix - they give you instant rewards ;). On the other side this factor makes it soo difficult to do workout and get the shape you want - after one visit at the gym you don't see any difference and you must wait much longer to get the reward.
Now you know what factors influence on motivation. If you check all the advices on the Internet, you will perceive, that they simply try to change these factors. With that knowledge in mind, finally it's time for me to show you my 4 steps to stay motivated and get things done. They are simple, but very effective.
Steps to increase motivation
Step 1: Divide into smaller tasks
This is a game changer. Imagine. If you have a huge project, or a plan to write a book or get fit. These are big fish. Even if you start doing them, you will quickly loose motivation, because there will be no visible progress.
To deal with it try to divide your project into smaller tasks. If you want to get fit you can start with a simple task "I will eat today an apple". Creat a couple of easy steps that you can do and later introduce more of them. In this way you will have much more motivation, because you will feel good and rewarded after completing each small task. You don't have to wait until you actually get fit :)
With time try to add new measurable goals and track your progress. Remember to celebrate completing each small goal!
If you will follow this step, then you will increase your expectancy, because it will be easier for you yo believe, that you are able to achieve the small goals and complete the small tasks. You will also minimalize the delay, because the reward will come much faster.
Step 2: Do not set goals or deadlines - instead set a plan
This step is very important. If you set a goal, like: "I want to get fit" or "I will go to the gym twice a week", then such a goal is useless. If you set a goal like "I want to get fit until holidays" it is also useless. Bare goals or deadlines won't help you get things done. What you need is a precise plan - a call to action. Try to set a goal like: "Tomorrow after work I will go to the gym at 4pm". Now the goal tells you exactly what you have to do (not what you want to achieve) and when you have to do it.
This step reduces impulsiveness. With such a precise goals you are much more likely to stay on track and complete the task. Also completing the task will instantly motivate you, because you will be proud of yourself, that you managed to do it! Go with the flow!
Step 3: Prepare environment
Even if you set a good goal, like I wrote in the previous step, then it still may be hard to do it. Let's say, that you've planned yesterday to go to the gym after work, it is almost the end of your shift, but you lost the entire motivation to do the workout. You have to go home, pack all the things to the gym and then go out and go to the gym. You are thinking now of all the possible excuses. I know that feeling. To fight that try thinking ahead and prepare your environment to help you get things done. For example pack your gym backpack before going to sleep and take it with you to you work. If you will have your backpack with you, then it will be much easier to go to the gym immediately after work. There is no packing or leaving your house in your way. You have everything needed to the gym with you :) Also your coworkers will see the backpack, so you will feel stupid, if you won't go to the gym.
This step should increase you expectancy and reduce impulsiveness
Step 4: Use Pomodoro technique
Pomodoro is the last thing I use, when I have to start doing something and I still feel not likely to do it. Pomodoro is a technique that tells you to do your tasks in short intervals. The length of the interval is up to you. It may be 15 or 25 minutes. Between the intervals you should do a 5 minute break. After a couple of cycles you can do a longer break. During the interval you should focus on the task in 100%. Don't check you phone, don't answer messages, don't do anything else apart from your task. It is only 15 minutes. You can answer a message with the 15 minutes delay, the world won't end ;)
Although this technique seems very easy and naive, it is really strong. It helps you with the worst part - beginning doing your task. If you start doing a task, then it is more likely possible, that you will continue doing it. And it is easy to start doing the task with Pomodoro, because you have the perspective of working on the task for only 15 minutes, and then break. You no longer think like this: "Oh no, I have this long essay to write, it will take me a couple of hours to finish".
If you want to try Pomodoro, you can find many mobile apps or browser extensions, that implement the technique and will track the time for you
This step also increases your expectancy and reduces impulsiveness. It also quickly give you value, because after the first interval you already have something done :)
Now get to work!
I hope that my advices will be helpful to you and that they will help you get on track and stay motivated! Good luck!