How to get that elusive motivation.

Motivation is a valuable tool for all sorts of work. Whether you are revising for big exams, working towards a fitness goal, or simply at work, motivation is always conducive to productivity. Motivation can come from really valuing the outcome of a task, finding enjoyment in it, or just really wanting to get to the end! The important thing is that when we feel motivated to work towards our goal, momentum makes the time go faster and the work more enjoyable. Also increasing our productivity, there is no doubt that motivation is hugely valuable, but just identifying the value doesn’t answer the real question; how on earth do you get motivated?

Particularly with difficult or less enjoyable challenges, motivation can be very hard to conjure and even more difficult to sustain. This is hardly surprising, given that most of us approach a huge project without first determining its benefits. The first hurdle to overcome is identifying the worth of the task at hand. Ask yourself what will change once you have completed this task. That way, rather than just ploughing through tasks, you can focus on their eventual benefit. Perhaps they will lead you towards a personal gain, create a feeling of accomplishment or simply bring you a step closer to your greater goal. Whatever it is, being able to work towards an acknowledged goal goes hand in hand with motivation.

It is human nature to take on a whole task at once – the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish. This approach however can be incredibly de-motivating. Breaking work down into smaller chunks or separate goals increases motivation. Feeling you have accomplished something is a huge boost, so regularly crossing things off your list is n undeniable help. Embarking on a plan to “exercise for half an hour, three times a week” for example is much easier to maintain than aiming to simply “exercise more”. One technique is to write short to-do lists including just three points per day. Only add new things to the list once all three tasks are completed. This way, you can ensure you get through several vital tasks each day and avoid getting overwhelmed by a never-ending list.

Another benefit of breaking work down into smaller tasks is that it makes your progress easier to track. It is important not only to track progress you make, but also to recognize it. Looking back over past sections of work and seeing how you’ve improved is perfect motivation to go on and improve even further. With revision (or other work that can easily be broken down into chapters or sections), spend some initial time looking into exactly what work needs doing. Although seeing that you have 16 chapters to get through may be off-putting at first, it is useful to know exactly what you have ahead of you and even more importantly, what you’ve already done! Looking at your record of accomplishments will also boost self belief and confidence, making you even better equipped to complete tasks.

A great way to recognize achievements comes through perhaps the best known – and arguably the most successful – motivational technique; giving yourself rewards. Decide on rewards from the beginning of your revision, project or fitness drive and stick to your system. Allocating rewards depending on the difficulty of tasks will make harder tasks more appealing, also decreasing likelihood of procrastination! Make sure to also make time for fun. Nobody can work endlessly and well deserved time off is one of the very best rewards.

It would seem that complete awareness of the task at hand through thorough planning is the best way to find motivation. For all sorts of tasks, taking things step by step and acknowledging the good work you’ve done as you go is the best technique to keep up spirits and stay motivated throughout.

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