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How Do I Stay Productive and Motivated?

Kaitlin Broderick LCPC

We have all had days where we wake up and feel energized, motivated, and productive. On the other hand, we also all have days where we wake up tired and feeling like we don’t want to do anything at all. Sometimes it is ok and may be necessary to take a day off and relax. However, if you’re consistently struggling with staying productive and filled with regret at the end of the day because you didn’t get enough done, these are some tips to help you work towards your goals even when motivation is lacking. 

  1. Know that discipline is different from motivation. We don’t always have motivation, but even if  motivation is lacking we can still have discipline. Discipline means you are making a conscious effort to move towards your goal, regardless of whether you feel like doing anything at the time. It can mean having a time frame of an hour a day where you work on the thing you want to accomplish. Motivation can ebb and flow, but discipline requires staying consistent and making something a habit even if you aren’t feeling motivated. Discipline means you continue to work at something even if you don’t see immediate results, keeping your end goal in mind. 
  2. When things feel overwhelming, remind yourself to stick to one task at a time. All you need to worry about is the task in front of you, not everything else that needs to get done. Also, if you have something big you want to accomplish, break it down into smaller more manageable tasks and focus on one task at a time. 
  3. Learn how you work most efficiently. If you are someone who typically has the most energy in the morning, work on your most difficult task first thing in the morning and save your easier tasks for later in the day when you feel your energy start to drain. If you need some time to wake up in the morning and focus better later in the day, do the opposite and work on what is easiest first thing in the morning. 
  4. If you are really having a hard time getting started with something, just give yourself a time frame of working on it for 10 mins to begin. Often, once you get started on something you will find that you want to continue doing it. It can just be getting over that initial hump of actually starting. Or even if you just work on something for 10 mins, maybe the next day you will feel motivated to work at it for a longer period of time. 
  5. If you’re feeling stressed out, give yourself permission to take a break. This can be as simple as getting up and leaving your desk for 10 mins to get outside. The fresh air and getting some distance from what you are doing for even a short period of time can help with your mental clarity and productivity. Sometimes you might find that you feel stuck on something and are getting nowhere, but when you come back to it after a short break you have a fresh perspective. 
  6. Work somewhere that you associate with work. Maybe you have an office at home, or maybe you prefer to go to a coffee shop or library. Find whatever works best for you, and be honest with yourself about it. If you know you don’t work well on the couch in front of the tv, go somewhere else. Also, try turning off your phone momentarily and limiting all distractions while you are working on something.

If you would like to learn more ways to improve productivity and enhance your motivation, our licensed therapists can help. Contact Symmetry for in-person or online counseling in Chicago.

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