For most people, staying motivated isn’t an issue when they’re around others. Friends and co-workers can be powerful motivators, especially because they often praise good work and encourage you to push yourself a little further every day.
But what if you had to work by yourself all the time? How would you motivate yourself to do the things that you need to do?
Τhe Reason Why Staying Motivated When You’re Alone Can Be Hard
Staying motivated when you’re alone can be challenging. We’ve become accustomed to working only in the presence of others and “switching off” when we’re alone. Think about it—how often do you plop yourself in front of the couch and watch hours of mindless TV? Probably every day after work, right?
There’s nothing wrong with being lazy and vegging out on TV shows or video games every so often. Everyone deserves some time to relax and recover.
The problem is, doing this too often turns it into a habit. With time, it becomes impossible to motivate yourself when you’re alone, and eventually, you lose a lot of the time that you could be using to accomplish your goals.
How to Tell if You’re Unmotivated
There’s a chance that you already know if you’re unmotivated when you’re not around people. Most of us know exactly how we spend our free time, so the question is, how productive are you when you’re alone?
If you do any of the following things regularly, then you’re probably not very productive when others aren’t around:
- You push projects to “some other time” and often spend time thinking about doing them rather than just getting them done.
- You spend a lot of time ruminating about your past or future.
- You spend most of your days/evenings in front of the TV or playing video games.
- You spend hours on aimless phone conversations with friends.
- You’re on social media for several hours every day, commenting, liking, and messaging people for no specific reason.
I apologize if you feel attacked, but if you do any of these things regularly, then this guide is specifically written for you. Being unmotivated and procrastinating on important tasks doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or averse to work.
When we face tasks that seem daunting or challenging, our brains naturally want to avoid them, which is why you find yourself spending hours on pointless things to distract yourself from what you should be doing.
Is it possible to develop habits that help you stay motivated even when you’re alone? Can you overturn chronic procrastination into consistent productivity?
Yes, you can, and here is what you need to do to get started.
Visualize the end
The hardest thing to do is to start. That’s why you need to visualize the end results of the task you have to complete. It’s far more motivating than trying to figure out how to start.
Say you have a lot of laundry to do. Go to your room and visualize how it would look without all the stray socks and underwear littering the floor. Do the same with your kitchen, then your living room, then your yard.
You can apply this to any task whatsoever. If it’s a project you need to work on, think about the ending of that project and how you’ll feel after accomplishing it. Believe it or not, seeing results, even if it’s all in your mind, is far more motivating than simply telling yourself when to start working.
Turn boring jobs into competitive games.
Turn the most mindless of tasks into fun activities by adding a touch of competition. Get a timer and try to get a job done within 30 minutes. The chances are that even if you fail to meet the time limit, you’ll still get the job done.
Winners get rewards—reward yourself for getting things done.
If you manage to win your little competitions, then you must reward yourself. Rewards are hugely motivating, and they can be anything that you want. You could order take-in, grab a cold one and watch the game, or even take a much-deserved nap.
Rewarding yourself for your efforts is a great way to keep yourself hungry to accomplish more.
Make your plans heard by many.
Are you thinking about finally mowing that unkempt lawn? If you’ve been postponing that dreadful activity for weeks, here’s a trick to get you to do it tomorrow—go and tell all your friends that your lawn is going to look fantastic by the end of the day.
It’s a simple trick that pushes you to get things done simply because you don’t want people to think that you don’t mean what you say. Telling others makes you accountable, so you’ll be very motivated to keep your word.
Turn huge tasks into bite-sized chunks.
It’s very easy to make progress on a huge task when you do a little bit at a time. Break up huge tasks into smaller chunks, then tackle them one after the other. Make sure they’re in the correct order.
You’ll hardly feel like you’re working because that huge intimidating job is now tiny, doable tasks that you can accomplish without much fuss.
Use music, the great motivator.
Upbeat music can help you power through tough physical tasks without a second thought. That project that you’ve been putting on hold for the last two weeks can be done in an afternoon. All you need is some of your favorite tunes and a hankering for getting something done.
Use music to motivate you when you’re taking on physical jobs. It distracts you from noticing that you’re expending lots of effort. In fact, you’ll probably feel energized throughout. Music has an uncanny ability to make your mind extremely happy no matter what the rest of your body is doing.
Put your phone as far away as possible.
Keep your phone out of reach, or better yet turn it off, whenever it’s becoming more of a distraction than an aid. Please don’t turn it back on until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
This technique is called negative reinforcement. It’s something that some companies use to motivate their employees to be more productive.
Create a to-do list the night before
Having a list not only keeps you organized, but it also has a positive psychological impact. Crossing things off a list can be very motivating. When you cross off your most important tasks for the day, you feel confident, satisfied, and ready to do more.
A list also helps you focus on one thing at a time. You start with the first thing and work on it until it’s finished, then you move on to the next thing. To make it easier to get to the bottom of the list, try listing the hardest tasks first. When you complete the most challenging jobs, everything else seems like a cakewalk.
And speaking of focus—don’t multitask. That brings us to the next point.
Do one thing at a time.
The only thing multitasking achieves is cluttering your mind. People who think multitasking is an efficient way of getting things done often overlook the fact that the brain wasn’t built that way.
The brain is a much more powerful tool when it is focused on one thing. Scattered attention means that you’re not really doing anything the right way. Multitasking only lowers the quality of your work.
Put up little inspirational quotes around the house.
Put up some post-it notes with encouraging sentiments around the house. Make sure they’re visible and preferably someplace where you spend a lot of time. Make them fun, personal, and motivational.
Take a cold shower every morning.
Taking a cold shower is like pushing the reset button on your body. Cold showers invigorate the mind and refresh the body thoroughly. Cold water improves blood flow as well, which is why you’re more alert afterward.
It would be best if you started with a cold shower every morning. When you do one extremely uncomfortable thing at the start of your day, everything else will seem easier in comparison.
Let in as much natural light as you can
Natural light can be very stimulating. We’re naturally tuned to be more alert during the day, so open those blinds up to let in as much natural light as possible. You should always start your day with lots of natural light to feel energetic and focused.
Accomplish something that you can see
Visual results can be slightly more inspiring, so when you’re feeling unmotivated, tackle one visible task first. De-clutter your workspace, clean your room, do those dishes, or put your dirty laundry in the laundry basket.
This also applies to office work: make those printouts, deliver those packages, or sign those reports.
You’ll feel more emotionally upbeat by the time you finish one visible task.
When you start feeling like you’re drifting off, exercise can get you right back on track. Take a five-minute break to do something aerobic.
You can do jumping jacks, run in place, or lift weights to get your heart beating. Afterward, you’ll feel energized and motivated enough to continue with your work.
Related reading: Scientific Studies on Positive Thinking – Opens in new tab.
Give yourself little pep talks.
Don’t be afraid to be your own coach. Periodically sneak in a few pep talks to motivate yourself while you work. It can be something like “just one more left, and I’m done,” or “this is great progress that I’m making” or “I am sure I can do this.” If you mean these words, then you can keep yourself motivated for as long as you need to.
Self-Motivation is Tough…But it’s Possible.
There’s nothing easy about learning how to motivate yourself. It requires the development of habits, and building a habit from scratch is no walk in the park.
Nevertheless, if you can turn some of these activities into habits, then you can keep yourself motivated even when there is no one around you. Your productivity skyrockets because you can work whenever you need to, with or without the encouraging presence of others.
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Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay