It’s fall again, and that means a lot of us are starting new projects, beginning new jobs, or working hard on school work. One thing a lot of us will face over the next few months is lack of motivation. It’s hard to stay motivated on things that occur over long periods, but there are great ways to do this.
During our recent creativity and writers’ group meetings, one thing that came up over and over was lack of motivation. Often, we begin projects (or jobs) with great gusto and enthusiasm, but as time goes by, it’s difficult to keep up that sense of elation and work ethic. So, how can we make it from start to finish on a long project without losing focus? Here are a few tips:
HAVE A GOAL
This seems like an obvious thing, but often, we lose sight of our overall goals when we’ve been working on something for a while. It’s a great idea to check in monthly with those goals, to see that you’re still on track, and to focus on the end result. Often, by doing that, you’ll see where you’re wasting time, or even how close to the end you might be. It’s a good motivator to check in. Keep a note in your calendar, or set your phone to remind you to look at the finish line once a month.
If this is a big work project or school assignment, you might not have the luxury of getting help with your work. But, there are things you can do to help you in the long run. Prepare meals ahead of time, ask someone to take the kids for a few hours on the weekend, book a weeknight into your family’s schedule for YOU to get out of the house. All of these things can help you to reach your goals without feeling like you’re losing your mind (or losing sleep). We can’t do everything. That’s a really important thing to admit…and by asking for help, whether with your project, or just to give you some “free” time, you’ll achieve your goals without burning out.
MAKE A LIST
One thing I LOVE to do is make lists. But they’re not just to remind me to do things…often, they’re important to sort out things that I know I need to do, but are taking up space in my head. By writing them down, I don’t have to think about them anymore. I can focus on the work at hand, and know that I won’t forget to do that other thing as well. If lists aren’t your thing, or if you have more on your mind than just to make that dentist appointment, try journalling. Keeping an inexpensive notebook where you write everything down that’s going on inside your head can be very freeing. You don’t have to show anyone, and it’s not like a diary where you’re remarking on important things in your life…it’s more like a depository for all of the thoughts that are cluttering your mind. Write about those ugly curtains that you’ve been meaning to change, or the argument you had with your sister about who will be making the pies at Thanksgiving. Whatever you put down on paper is now out of your head, and you’ll be able to focus better.
WRITE THE STEPS
In our creativity course, we’ve been talking a lot about future things, and how to get there. Say you want to eventually sell something at the Farmer’s Market. What do you need to do to get there? It won’t just fall into your lap…you’ll have to do some research. Find out what types of products are being sold there (that might mean a trip to the Farmer’s Market one Saturday). Next, see how much people are willing to pay for an item, and work out your costs (supplies, preparation time etc.). Then, find some cute tags online or at the craft store that you can make up to put your prices on each item. You’ll also need to know how much a table will cost you, how much profit (if any) the Farmer’s Market will require from your takings, and anything else that might go along with that (do they provide tables, signage, advertising)? Whatever it might take to get you to your goal, write down. And start following those steps to get there. This goes for any long-term project. And as you complete each step, cross them off the list. Just seeing the progress forward will make you more excited as time goes on, instead of overwhelmed and tired.
These are just a few ways to keep you on track when doing a long-term project. While you might not be as excited about it at the finish line as you were at the beginning, completing something is a BIG thing, and will go a long way to feeling accomplished and excited about the next one.
What are some of your tips for staying motivated during a long-term project? Share them with us!