How to get (and stay) motivated*.
How to get motivated? No, for real, can you tell me? I was going to write about it but to tell you the truth I just really can’t be bothered. I’ll do it tomorrow, or the day after. Maybe next week?
And now that brilliant joke(!?) is out-of-the-way we can begin properly. I assume that it is a given that at least once in everyone’s life they have found themselves in a slump? This is OK if you work for someone else, you turn up, tune out, get the job done on autopilot and still get paid*. Unfortunately, this isn’t really an option for digital nomads. If you’re not doing the job you’re not getting paid. Whilst that can be fine if you are a very rich digital nomad the other 99% of us can’t really keep that up for long.
*I speak from extensive experience. My working life so far has been everything apart from interesting. Or fun. Or rewarding.
So, as I am decidedly a very un-motivated man by nature I decided to have a look at motivational techniques to see if they could help enrich my life. Then I thought ”I can’t be the only lazy b##tard on the internet, why don’t I collect all of the best tips I can find into one place, that’ll make it easier for other people to find.” So I did, and you’re reading it. So, in no particular order, here are some of the best techniques I found to help you, as the kids would say, ‘get sh#t done’.
*Be like Santa Claus. Make a list of your goals. Whether it’s for the day, the week, the month, whatever. If you are doing a daily list, make sure you prioritize. The important stuff should go first, that way, hopefully, by the time you are bored of working you’ll have finished the hardest part!
*Break it down. Don’t think you have to get everything done in one day. Unless you do. I mean if you have a strict deadline you probably can’t break the task down. If you don’t have the fear of a deadline hanging over you try to break your project down into manageable pieces. You might find it easier to start and finish tasks this way.
*Don’t be scared of the task at hand. You can do this. I have the utmost faith in you.
*I think it was Simon and Garfunkel sang ‘Hello procrastination, my old friend, I’ve come to waste time with you again’. Yes, I’m sure it was. Anyway, you need to eliminate any distractions. We all love aimlessly trawling through websites, falling down wiki-holes and generally buggering about throughout the working day, it’s part of what makes work enjoyable yeah? Well, you can’t. You’ll need to stop that and get down to it. If you find it too difficult to stop on your own then you are going to need some professional help. Consider installing a ‘block site’ extension on your browser of choice. I have one. It really does work! If you are a chrome user you might like this one.
*Do something that interests you. Yes, this should be pretty obvious but a lot of people do things because they are good at it, not because they enjoy it. Now changing your career might be a little bit difficult to do overnight but if you really detest your line of work why still do it? Take a course, learn a new skill. Doing something you actually enjoy will make getting out of bed much more pleasant. You can find the course of your dreams here.
Don’t give up on the list, keep going!
*Work out a schedule. I am a follower of schedules, it’s basically the only way I ever get things done. For instance, in 1 hour and 12 minutes, I am going for lunch, I will back at 2 pm. I never said it was an interesting schedule, just one that tells me what to do. You might want to get up early, have a stretch, have a wash, eat some food and then crack on with work. That is known as ‘The Tom Rogers’ schedule. You can use it.
*Move around a bit. Staying in the same place for a long time can get stale. If you’re the type of digital nomad that can work from a coffee shop, go and work from a coffee shop. A change of scenery can really give you a jump-start.
*Plan to reward yourself. If you are about to undertake a long project plan yourself a treat for afterwards. I once worked as a colourist on a graphic novel that took over a year to complete, then I went to Porto for a month. It was brilliant. Porto that is, the book was a bit ‘meh’ for my tastes.
*Plot your progress. Nothing is better than being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Work out a visual aide so that you can see where you are at with your work and when you will be finished.
*Right, these I’m not too sure about as I don’t do them. Apparently exercise, meditation and yoga are great ways to motivate yourself? Er, I think I did yoga once for 10 minutes and then I just got a bit bored. Still, if running and bending and sitting quietly are your cup of tea you could try it. If you can combine all 3 at once I imagine you’ll get super motivated.
*If you don’t like the physical aspect of motivation just bang some caffeine into your system. Coffee, energy drinks, caffeine pills. Whatever works for you! N.B. I don’t really think this a productive long-term solution.
*Passion is your friend. You must have started doing all of this for a reason? Remember what that was and how great it will be when you get there.
*Accept your glory. When you do a good job or get good feedback take it as the compliment that it is. You did it, other people liked it, good for you! Build on that feeling of general niceness. Don’t be embarrassed about or undervalue your achievements.
*As briefly mentioned above you can easily find motivational videos to watch online. I still think the LaBeouf one is the best. DO IT! If being shouted at isn’t your bag have a look at a few TED Talks. You might learn something!
*Stay positive. Try and flip any negative thoughts that you have into positive ones. If you are thinking ‘ah, I’ve only written 1000 words of this 10,000-word assignment’ change it to ‘yeah, I’m a tenth of the way through this mother!’ When you find yourself feeling a bit blue try to do a little smile, it can help make you feel better and sometimes it really is quite nice. If smiling isn’t your bag watch a comedy clip or listen to some music that you like. Being unmotivated and sad is tears.
*There’s a reddit for that. Browse the helpful and inspiring posts on this subreddit. You’re not alone.
*Don’t be afraid to look for help, lack of motivation can sometimes be a sign of depression. It’s probably not but don’t be ashamed to tell someone and seek help if you need it. You can read more about clinical depression here.
Any motivational tips you’d care to share with the Digital Nomad world? Feel free to add them to the comments below.