A few weeks ago, I blogged about writer’s block, and considered a few tips to overcome that feeling of despair you get when staring at a blank page. Lack of motivation can affect us in many areas of our lives and it can be difficult to ‘get going’ again. I realised recently that just the simple action of joining a Facebook virtual reading group has motivated me to increase my reading. Instead of aimlessly watching the TV in the evening I deliberately turn off after the news and read a book.
Too many distractions
In summer it can be difficult to find the motivation to finish an essay, complete a research project or submit a CV. The weather is good and everyone else seems to be on holiday. Have you lost your mojo? How can you overcome it? Psychology Today defines motivation as: “the desire to do things”. There is certainly no end to the amount of advice and opinion in the WebSphere, ranging from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [which explains why humans do anything], to everyday blog posts, like this one. I wondered if this could be distilled into half a dozen useful tips to get your project back on track.
Six small steps to success
Here are some tips that I follow when motivation is at a low ebb and I need to tackle a difficult project, or just get the ironing done:
• Establish a goal and write it down
• Visualise the result of achieving the goal and think about this image often
• Break the task down into small steps
• Create a plan and chart your progress – make a physical list and tick off each completed step
• Join a group – real-life or virtual – mutual support will help you to commit to your goal, just like my book group
• Reward yourself for each step achieved – chocolate helps!
Get that essay written
So, how can you apply these tips to real life? Say you need to finish a dissertation, the deadline is looming but you just can’t seem to get started. First, write down your goal: I will finish writing my dissertation and submit it by Friday. Second, think about how you will feel when you have achieved this: imagine clicking ‘send’ on the submission email, you feel a sense of relief – mission accomplished, and you can now enjoy the weekend, no pressure. Next, make a list of each step you need to take to complete the work: do you need to do any further research? Read some chapters of a book? Draw up an outline of the dissertation? How many words do you need to write? How many sections or chapters? Make a list and tick off each step as you complete it. Are any of your friends also struggling to finish their coursework? Can you get together to bounce ideas or give each other encouragement? Consider joining a group on social media that provides support and encouragement – posting daily progress updates can kick-start the creative juices. Finally, plan a special reward, perhaps a special evening out to celebrate completion, or a Snickers bar* for every 500 words.
*substitute with your favourite chocolate (or healthy snack!)
Once you’ve completed your work don’t forget that professional proofreading can help polish your writing and eliminate errors. It’s that time of year when proofreaders are busy with end of year assignments, so make sure to book your proofreading and editing early – extra incentive to complete your writing on time and meet the submission deadline. Good luck!