Do you remember in college when you postponed writing that paper until the night before? Did you convince yourself that staying awake until 4 a.m. was spontaneous and exciting? I did. Not every time, and not for every class, but I often waited until the last possible moment to reach that deadline. Somehow, I thought that made me daring and special. It actually made me tired, stressed and very moody. Sound familiar?
To my chagrin, deadlines did not end with college. What did end with college was my exceptional skill of eating Ramen with no regrets. But deadlines – I still have those. Instead of procrastinating important projects and distracting myself with Netflix binges, I learned how to motivate myself. Now I teach my high school students how to do the same. This is how I break it down for them, and these same tricks can work for writers, editors, projects managers and people in virtually all professional positions, especially when self-managed.
1. Set Realistic Goals
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” A trite, but accurate saying. Set one realistic goal for yourself, and when you meet it, set another. I usually write 2-3 personal or professional goals a day on a Post-it note and have it at my desk. For you, maybe it’s something like generating a catchy headline for that article that’s due to your boss in two days, or maybe it’s something more involved like signing into the backend of your company’s website to start auditing content. Whatever your goals may be, the important part is that you take that first step and set them.
In between teaching classes or during a free period, I look at my goals and see how many I can accomplish. Once I have completed the Post-it note, I throw it away and write 2-3 more realistic goals I can complete. That way, when I am tempted to browse Facebook, Instagram, Buzzfeed, or Pinterest, I have a list of goals to focus on instead. With that list directly in front of me, I feel guilty spending time I don’t have on sites that are not productive to completing my goals. Once you complete your list, browse away!
2. Change Your Environment
When you have no motivation to get going, try working in a new location. Go outside. Crash in a comfy chair. Lay on the floor with your feet up. If you can, find a local coffee shop or park where you can work with minimal interruptions. Just go out there and explore the possibilities! Even when I am alone in my classroom, I can find distractions keeping me from important work. So I grab my laptop, find an unoccupied room or library, and work there. Just changing your environment can help you focus (and possibly keep away from some well-meaning, talkative coworkers).
A change of environment is also a great way to inspire creativity. In a creative career field like content marketing, sometimes it’s easy to hit a wall and lose that creative spark. Adding a little nature or some new scenery can really inspire you and help you get back on the right track.
Any other Parks and Recreation fans out there? Have a reward system. After all, you reached your goal! You deserve something special. Whether it be a cup of coffee, an episode of Friends, or a weekend vacation, treat. yo. self. The promise of a reward works well for my students, but to be honest, it still works for me too, and it could very well work for you or the team that you are trying to motivate.
As you motivate yourself, remember to be grateful for these opportunities. You worked hard for this career, so take one day at a time. Small accomplishments lead to great success.
Sarah Munne – Content Writer