This time of year, there’s a lot of craziness going on, in both our personal and professional lives. (I’ve definitely started to feel a little manic over the last couple of weeks!)
And so, if you start to feel your motivation or productivity levels start to wane during all the craziness, I’ve got 31 pieces of advice right here that can help zap you back into high gear.
Awhile back, my assistant got in touch with a variety of high-achieving people, mostly via Udemy and Etsy, and asked them the following question:
In 50-60 words or less, what is the #1 tip you can share for how to keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated?
Most people who responded shared a lot more than 50-60 words!
Below, you’ll find a list of the people who contributed. Then, you’ll get to see the pearls of wisdom these high-achievers had to share along with a link to where you can learn more about each person and what they have to offer.
Hopefully at least one of these tips helps:
- Thor Pederson
- Ken Wells
- Brian Jackson
- Doru Catana
- Ali Mirza
- Sarah O’Leary
- Amgad El-Sakka
- Jonathan Levi
- Martin Georgiev
- Iulian Bubolea
- Tyler Speegle
- Elmira Strange
- Carl Pullein
- Dr. Roy Naraine
- Paulina Antonova
- Adam Karsh
- Emily Stoneking
- Benjamin Hero
- Andrew Alexander
- Alina Kislenko
- Nadine Bekkouche
- Dawid Tuminski
- Donald Wong
- Josh Paulsen
- Mike Hohenwarter, MSc
- Karen Oliver
- Tanmoy Das
- Oskars Dombrava
- Mr. Mohamed Dafallah
- Samantha Lynn
You can read each person’s complete advice below or jump down to the bottom to view a more condensed version of the advice shared in a downloadable infographic.
Break bigger goals or tasks down into more bite-sized, manageable steps.
It is important to envision the end goal, see and feel having achieved the goal. Break the goal into manageable pieces, keep breaking it down until each step is achievable in a reasonable amount of time. Use rewards, milestones and envision each larger sub-goal.
When you’re not feeling motivated: go micro…
Once you’re clear on the big picture (your “why”), then you need to break your goals into smaller, manageable chunks.
When you run into motivation issues…focus on even smaller pieces.
Find one tiny piece of the process you can work on to move towards your goal. It could be just focusing on writing a blog post title, instead of the whole blog post.
When a problem seems so overwhelming that I don’t know how to begin to solve it, I Swiss cheese the problem. I break the problem into small, easily performed tasks and begin taking small steps towards my goal. In other words, I punch small holes in my problem as if I’m making Swiss cheese until the problem is all gone.
Stop over-thinking and start taking action!
DO IT. What I found, looking at others, at myself, everywhere I look, was that the problem is not motivation, [it’s] not skill, it’s actually taking action and doing. We do excessive research, over-think things, over-complicate things, analyze a million outcomes, when in reality, if we just did it already, we would have been far better off. The problem is we think too much and do too little. So what if you’re wrong? Adapt, change, switch what you’re doing. But at the center of getting things done is actually doing, not thinking about it.
Take “MIA” (Massive Imperfect Action). Just get moving and take action. Action brings clarity, and automatically, we start moving towards our goals. Many people get into the “thinking mode” and that’s dangerous. The key is to stop thinking too much and take action.
As we really started our Etsy shop in the early days of digital products for handmade artists, we really had no place to look for advice. It was really a trial-and-error process for us that lead us to build the business model we have today. One thing we know for sure is that execution trumps knowledge any day of the week.
We really focused on working to building inventory, developing marketing strategies, and sharing our business through social media by never, ever, putting [off until] tomorrow what we could do today. Setting goals and action plans and actually doing them is really the best advice we could have gotten.
We did expand our knowledge and followed multiple [pieces of] advice from mentors and masterclasses over the years and still [do] to this day, but what is most important is that you apply those principles right now, as soon as you can into your business. By doing that we were able to exceed market expectations and create our dream business.
Find a reason or purpose that inspires and propels you forward and hold onto it.
It’s all about finding a reason, a purpose, a goal, a motive. You can call it what you want, but it can’t be money because money is a result, not a goal by itself.
My personal goal, which may sound cheesy, was marriage and love. I needed money, so I needed to work as much as I could in order to marry this girl because I had a lot of responsibilities. If I’d worked for money only, I wouldn’t have married her.
The point is; this reason, this purpose made me wake up in the morning. It was the first thing that I thought about when I woke up, the last thing I thought about before I slept; because I knew that in order to reach this purpose or this girl, I had to work hard. When I felt disappointed, de-motivated, or even bored while working and that reason simply wasn’t just enough, I had another reason, which was to keep going for my own pride and my family’s pride.
So to cut it short, it’s all about finding a good enough reason for YOU. And only YOU can determine a good enough reason for YOU. Whenever you need to do something and get it done effectively, you have to find the reason. If you don’t have a [reason], you may get things done, but you’re going to hate it and may quit way faster than if you had a really good reason that moves you and helps you to get these things done.
Finally, the trickiest part is when you actually achieve something, I mean, when you actually get to that reason. In this case, you have to celebrate, rest, and find a new reason.
Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Nothing keeps you as motivated as the long-term vision as to why your actions matter and what you’re working towards.
If you are not feeling motivated today, then check who are you doing it for? If you [are] doing it for yourself, [that] is not motivating enough. Think of your parents or grandparents (and how much it cost them so you [could] be here today), think of your country or your (future) children.
To stay productive and motivated when you don’t feel it, remember why you started! It’s natural and normal to feel that laziness. Any natural habit can be changed if we focus on good emotions. One of these good emotions is old feelings of being enthusiastic about your final goal. Remember why you started!
(Link includes a coupon code.)
I’m a writer, so when I don’t feel motivated to write, I go back to the reason why I started in the first place. I started writing because I want to connect with people. Inspire them. Encourage them. That reason why is a constant, so I know I can always depend on it for motivation when I need it most.
1. Remember the reasons for starting your project (business). What is it you wanted? To have independence, to stay at home, to travel the world whilst working ‘online’? Take 2-3 minutes and realize how far you’ve come. This is not the time to procrastinate!
2. Find a reward that will work for you! You can reward yourself with a favorite movie, delicious snack, or some little shopping, but only after you complete today’s project!
Practice visualization. Imagine the life you want (or the one you want to avoid).
Staying productive and motivated starts with your vision of the life and lifestyle you want. Without that, you lose motivation and get caught up in unimportant busy work stuff that takes you nowhere, fast. So, my advice, decide what you want, and have one or two tasks each day that take you closer towards achieving the vision you want for you.
Dr. Roy Naraine
The strategy that works best for me is visualization. I analyze the purpose of my task, the consequences of not following through, and the benefits of completing it. I turn these thoughts over in my mind and go through the action of actually carrying out the tasks the night before. The next day, everything works like a charm.
There is a great exercise to get fired up. Remember the moment in your life when you felt greatly empowered. It can be anything, sports competitions, work success etc. Define the exact moment/second when you felt extremely powerful. Relive that moment, feel it to the fullest. What you were wearing, what position you were taking, what were you thinking about. Remember that feeling. It will bring you back to the state of “I can do everything” and will motivate you.
My personal technique to maintain productivity when motivation levels are low is simply reminding myself of how the task at hand fits in the bigger picture, and to visualize the positive outcome. I strongly believe in the concept of delayed gratification (i.e. accept present pain and discomfort for future success).
Honestly, I keep motivated by imagining what my life would be like if I had to grind out a 9-to-5 job somewhere, working for someone else, and not having control over my own hours. I would be miserable. So however much I might want to nap, keeping up with my to-do list takes priority! (But later…a nap!)
The best tip I can give to stay motivated and productive is to embrace all sides of motivation: both the negative and the positive. We have often been told that we need to have a pure source of motivation in order for us to maintain a level head, but tapping into the negative energy, when it is available, will turn you into a productive animal!
Hold yourself accountable.
Most people think they have to “feel” motivated in order to take action. For those who are struggling to take action, they are usually more motivated by avoiding immediate pain. The solution is to find one task you have to do (go to the gym, write one chapter for you book, etc.) and write a $100 check to a friend, and hand it to them. If you take action, you get the check back. If you don’t take action, they cash it. This way, the fear of losing the money will put you in action like it never has before.
(Link includes a coupon code.)
Give a friend 10 or 20 dollars (whatever amount you don’t want to lose) and tell them to only give it back if you finish your project step by a certain date and time. That puts a fire under your as$ like no one’s business and helped me graduate top of my class from my master’s degree!
Take care of yourself first and foremost.
To keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated, you need to…
Take care of yourself! Figure out what would make you feel better right now. A jog, a stretch, some music, a chat, a hug, some sleep, some healthy food? Give it to yourself. Once your needs are met, you can remember how passionate you feel about your goals, your work…and get back in there!
The #1 tip to keep going and stay productive is to just stop and relax until you clear your head. In fact, rest should be the first thing you plan for the day.
There is nothing more demotivating and diminishing to productivity than tiredness. Especially if your work involves creativity, rest is essential to stay positive and full of ideas.
The most productive entrepreneurs use SIMPLE, FAST TOOLS everyday to CONSISTENTLY perform at their best. Our highest growth clients use at least one of the following each day, even on family days: a 10 minute cold shower, 15 minutes of positive meditation, 10 minutes of future forecasting, and proper hydration. Most importantly, surround yourself with those who push you towards your dreams.
Take 15 minutes to change your physiology. Go for a walk, or run while listing to your favorite music. Spend time meditating, or just taking deep breaths. Even doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups can create enough energy and motivation to help you get going.
Be clear about your goal and top priorities.
Meike Hohenwarter, MSc
Usually, when people do not feel motivated, they are [missing] the big picture. They are stuck in details, which would be clear once they have completely clarified what the goal and outcome of the work should be. But this must not only be done mentally; [it] has to include a clear picture and feel of the outcome.
Whenever you feel like you’ve lost sight of why you’re doing something, take a piece of paper, draw a 2×2 grid, and write across the top ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages,’ and down the side, write ‘doing it’ and ‘not doing it.’ Then, list the pros and con of completing your task and also of not completing it. This exercise will either keep you on track, or make you rethink your priorities.
Write down your goal and display it where you can see it.
One way to keep you at your goal is to write it down in BIG LETTERS and hang it right in front of your work desk, where you can see it every time you lift your head from the PC. It reminds me of what I need to achieve and keeps me motivated to stay productive!
Start small and “warm up” first.
My best productivity tip would be just set a timer for one minute and start doing the task. Similar, like for a workout, you need warm up for work. It will get you in [shape], and after a minute, you probably will want to finish that task, which you started.
Be active, show appreciation, and don’t compare yourself to others.
Mr. Mohamed Dafallah
So here [are] three tips that are really important for me.
Number 1: Be active. People love talking but they don’t understand that the only thing that will take you a step further to your goal is [if] you do something, anything, even if it is small.
Number 2: Appreciate the people around you, especially those who help you. You cannot accomplish anything on your own, no one ( or very, very rarely) can anyone say they have been successful on their own. The people who believe in you are the most important to you and you should give them your respect and time.
Number 3: Don’t look at a successful person and say that you can never be him/her because he/she has a Bugatti or something you don’t have. You must understand that a successful person’s next step is not your next step, and so, focus on yours and be CONSISTENT at it.
Do/sell what you love.
LOVE YOUR PRODUCT. Don’t stock your shop with something solely because it makes money; you’ll burn out fast. It’s easier to answer the same questions, over and over, when you love talking about your product. It’s easier to wake up early and stay up late when you love your job.
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
My motivation comes from the people around me, so when I notice myself losing productivity, I increase interaction with my customers and friends in the community, and that always gives me new ideas and a renewed fire to work with.
Below, you’ll find the infographic I mentioned earlier, which you can view, download, or pin:
I hope you found these motivation and productivity tips useful! Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and if you have any other advice to share.