It has been raining since last night and I thought that it was a perfect time to write a new blog post. So I made a cup of pineapple flavoured green tea, wrapped myself in a blanket and turned my laptop on. I was eager to start but one hour later I had only two sentences written down. Surprising thing was that I actually knew exactly what I wanted to write about and I have made some nice notes on the topic, and yet, actually writing down all my thoughts into something that makes sense and can be posted online seemed to be impossible. Good thing about this blog is that I am doing it for fun so there is no pressure to deliver on time. But unfortunately these situations are not uncommon when it comes to paid work or school, especially when with tasks that require some creativity. And since I am 100% sure that I am not the only one struggling with getting things done when I have no inspiration, I thought about sharing my experience on how to overcome this problem. (p.s. even though this not the topic I was planning to write about today)
If you have a chance to postpone the task, do so
This is probably the most simple and the most important rule I have for myself: “When you are not motivated to complete the task, postpone it until you feel better about it.” Because even if you push yourself to get it done now, the quality will most likely suffer. And that is definitely not the result we want.
Try to understand why you find the task difficult to complete
Maybe it is because you don’t think it is relevant? Or you are not competent enough to perform it and afraid to make mistakes? Or you are simply in a bad mood and your mind is preoccupied with other thoughts? Understanding and accepting the problem is the first step towards solving it. So take time identifying the root cause of your demotivation and address it.
Ask for help
Either it is a school project or a work assignment, whenever I get stuck, I seek help from my colleagues. I realized that simply talking to somebody often helps me to look at my task from a distance and figure out a way to approach it. Also, you will be stunned to find out how many people are actually eager to help you with whatever you are trying to do.
If you don’t have anyone to discuss your work with, try searching for sources of inspiration online. Thanks God, we have Google! Because unless you are a new Steve Jobs designing the new iPhone, the tasks you have been assigned have probably been done before by other people. So try googling your topic and the issue you are solving and I am sure you will find relevant material. I personally often use Google when making PowerPoint slides for important presentations.
Think outside of the box
Can you do something completely different which will have the same result? If the answer is yes, just do it. For example, in my case, even though I changed the topic, I still delivered a blog post. Some other examples of task substitution could be related to presentations. (I am sorry I use presentations as an example all the time, but I spent almost entire last week on making slides for a very important project I am currently working on, so I cannot think of anything else.)
Who said presentations have to be done in PowerPoint? To be honest, some of the greatest presentations I have seen were done by using other tools which made them stand out. There are so many cool tools to be used! You can create a video or write/draw something on the board while talking to the audience. If you are presenting numbers, try looking into Tableau which is the most awesome data visualization tool I have seen so far.
Know yourself and your working habits
Are you the person who works best just before the deadline? Or are you productive early in the morning while in the afternoon your productivity goes down? Understanding your working style and learning how to leverage on that is probably one of the best investments you can make in your professional career.
Break down the task into smaller steps
This is probably one of the most popular advices you can find on the topic. And you know what, it actually works. Sometimes you become demotivated because the task seems extremely complex and you simply don’t know how to approach it. So breaking it down into small tasks and completing one at a time can be actually quite motivating.
And my final tip for today is “No matter what, make sure you maintain a positive attitude.” 🙂
I know my tips are not new and many of you are probably using some of them already or you have your own approaches to deal with the lack of motivation. Feel free to share those in the comments.
Work and progress,