I get asked a lot how I find the energy and motivation to complete tasks to essentially “do so much.” How do I find time to be a mom, run a YouTube channel, write in my blog, keep the house clean, and still have the motivation to complete organization tasks around my house.
The first part of the answer is I don’t. Please remember what is seen online is always someone’s highlight reel. Even for me, I try to keep things I share as real and honest as possible, but you still don’t see every moment of my day. I’m not killin’ it every minute of every moment. TRUST ME.
The second part of the answer is I’ve learned the importance of having a sense of purpose throughout my day. But, like I said, I LEARNED this. I haven’t always been that way, it has been learned over the years.
Before I quit my office job to be a full-time YouTuber/Blogger, I spent over 5 years working that full-time job while doing this as my side hustle. I had just as much time in the day as everyone else, I just had to learn how to use my time more effectively in order to be able to do both (while also making time for being a wife and mom and homeowner and all the other hats I wear.)
Essentially what I’m saying is… sure some people are naturally more busybodies, but what I’ve really learned along the way is that your motivation can be hacked. There are tricks I use every day to essentially hack myself and my brain into being more productive. And today, I’m going to share those with you.
A Body In Motion Stays In Motion
My number one trick about getting motivated and getting work done is the idea that a body in motion stays in motion and that a body in rest tends to stay at rest.
This means the best way to get myself to get going is to force myself to move. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated, lazy, tired, I don’t want to get up and do something, I’ll force a small amount of movement. This can be a ton of things. Maybe I’ll force myself to do just ONE task on my to list, maybe I’ll go for a walk, maybe I’ll do my 15-minute cleaning hack (which if you’re new here my 15-minute clean hack is when I set a 15-minute alarm on my phone and speed clean for 15 minutes).
Basically, I force my body INTO movement. And, I find, 9 times out of 10, once I am moving, the more I move the more my body and mind feel able to move. And, the energy sort of compounds on itself.
Let me give you a scenario. When I used to work in an office, I’d come home and what do you think the first thing I wanted to do was? Sit down on the sofa and relax, right? Like I had just worked all day lemme sit for a second.
But, I found that if I had some things I wanted to get done, coming home and sitting down was literally THE worst solution because I was taking a body in motion, and making it a body at rest. And, 90% of the time if I slouched down onto my sofa there was a good chance I’d still be there an hour later scrolling Instagram or Pinterest.
We think to ourselves, I’m just going to relax for 20 minutes, but the truth is turning a body at rest back into a body in motion, is a lot more work than keeping a body in motion in motion.
SO, instead, when I got home I would use the momentum I had to complete something. At that time in my life, it was usually to take our dogs for a walk. Once again, 9 times out of 10, when we got back from the walk I found I was more likely to keep my momentum and continue to work.
So, basically, my tip here is when you’re sitting around, you’re feeling lazy or tired or unmotivated but you have things you want to get down and take the first SMALL step to FORCE your body into some type of motion, and you will usually find that momentum will compound into more and more things.
Visualize The End Result
The next trick is to visualize the end result of what you’re lacking the motivation to do. Sometimes just visualizing the completed task, instead of thinking of each individual step, can motivate me enough to get started, as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by all the steps it’ll take me in getting there. Not to mention there have been some studies that have actually proven that the mind can’t always distinguish between REAL events and MENTAL ones. This means you can legit mind hack yourself.
If you imagine yourself enjoying the task and finishing your task then you’re more likely to enjoy the task and complete it. If you spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about how much work it’s going to be and how long it’s going to take, you’re less likely to enjoy the task and less likely to complete it, or less likely to complete it on time.
Find A Way To Make It More Fun
My next hack is to try to find ways to make a task more enjoyable. For tasks that are particularly hard or tedious, find ways to make them more fun. I’ll listen to upbeat music and dance party through boring tasks. Putting on some of your favorite music is an instant mood lifter, and I can promise you dancing while doing the dishes is far more enjoyable than just doing the dishes.
Another thing I might do is listen to really good audiobooks, this can make tedious tasks go quicker.
Another thing I’ve been known to do is give myself little rewards for completing tasks. It’s kinda like when you were in kindergarten and would get a star on your chart, but like…the adult version – for example, I love having an afternoon iced coffee at home. It’s my little treat I look forward to when my oldest goes down for his nap, so I might force myself to complete a task before I get to have it.
A big culprit to not getting started is overwhelm. We have what seems to be WAY TOO MANY tasks to do, that we don’t even know where to start. Sound familiar?
This happens to me all the time, even with good planning and organization. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed with tasks. My best hack for this is to do a brain dump. I probably do one almost weekly.
The way it works is you sit down and literally just dump everything that’s in your brain onto a sheet of paper. Everything you want or need to get done, everything you’re thinking about doing. The steps you need to do it. Just keep writing until there’s nothing left in your brain.
Just the process of writing it down can help you take it out of your head and start to basically close the 800 tabs you have open in your brain.
Once on paper, you can start to prioritize them.
I like doing this with color, I’ll go through and mark tasks as needed to be done ASAP, needed to be done this week, this month, and then when I have the time. When all the tasks are in your head it’s really hard to organize and prioritize them this way but when they are laid out in front of you, it’s a lot easier to make choices on what’s the most important to do now. Once prioritized you’ll find it easier to realistically schedule the tasks into your calendar.
I have a whole post on how I brain dump and schedule out my days. Make sure you check that out.
Time A Task You Hate To Do
This next hack is for those LITTLE daily or weekly tasks that we ALLL procrastinate doing. We just conveniently ignore them day after day. And, the funny thing about a lot of these tasks is they usually aren’t even that big. It’s something small like emptying the bathroom trash can or taking cardboard boxes out to the recycling or responding to an email. So, my little hack is to time how long it takes you to do it.
Literally set a timer on your phone and take out the trash or put away the dishes. I find that very often these tasks actually take LESS time than we think. And, when we realize taking the trash out to the garbage bin literally takes us LESS THAN 60 SECONDS it can be a great motivator for future instances. You can say to yourself, ok this will literally take me 45 seconds, and that makes it feel so much more attainable.
I’ll give you one personal example, I used to always procrastinate taking things to our basement. The majority of storage for us in our house is in the basement. We don’t have any closets or storage on our main living floor so extra toys, blankets, towels, craft supplies, all go to the basement.
I used to create these little piles of “things to go to the basement” and they ended up just cluttering up the kitchen and never really got things to the basement ANY FASTER. So, one day I timed myself and it took 28 seconds to carry an item to the basement and come back upstairs. TWENTY EIGHT SECONDS you guys. I was avoiding this task like the plague and it took me less than ½ a minute. Honestly ever since I’ve timed it, whenever something has to go the basement I’m like “yea I can spare 28 seconds.” I don’t even have an excuse not to do it when it’s that fast.
Use Motivational Quotes
The next hack is to use motivational quotes. I know what you’re thinking – motivational quotes…really? But, the truth is there’s actually some science here. Studies have been done that show that people who see motivational images or words before a task can increase their success rate of that task by up to 60%. The thought is that when the concept of achievement is in your environment, it increases your performance and can double your willingness to keep working.
Again it’s like that earlier mind hack where the mind doesn’t always differentiate real events from events in the mind. The mind has been exposed to success and achievement and thus, is more likely to believe it.
So, consider placing a few motivational quotes, or images, in some intentional places. For example, I have the quote “I didn’t come this far to only come this far” as my phone’s background.
For me, as someone who works for myself, sometimes finding the motivation to work can be hard, I don’t have a boss giving me deadlines or the fear of being fired or co-workers to support. For me, my motivation to keep working is my own success. So reminding myself I haven’t done all this work to just stop here, is the perfect motivation. Placing it on my phone it’s not just where I see it often but I have to face it before I pick up my phone which is a big work distraction and time suck. So, it can stop me in my tracks from wasting time and get me back to work.
Take Time To Rest… But Don’t Over Do It
I feel like we can end up in this flip flop narrative when it comes to productivity where on one side people are like “good things come to those that hustle” and on the other side people are preaching “normalize not being busy all the time.”
And, the truth is it’s like this because that balance is hard. It’s a balancing act of hustling and also resting. Personally think that things come to those who work for it. I’m very much a believer in hard work and putting in the hours, BUT at the same time, there is most certainly burnout, and you don’t want to overwork yourself to the point that you’ve burnt out (trust me I’ve done it, too many times.)
So it becomes this balancing act of putting in the hours and doing the work, while still giving yourself the time to rest. And, while I think “taking time to rest” is extremely important, I also think it is VERY easy for us to overuse it as an excuse.
The big problem is, we all tend to look at rest as the reward, right. We’ve worked hard so we get to take a break, or it was a long day at work I deserve to relax. And while I’m 100000% on board for giving yourself time to relax, this thought process also, obviously, makes work look like the bad thing and rest look like the good thing. It’s like having to eat your vegetables to get your cookie (another concept I don’t believe in but that’s for another day).
So, my tip is to try to shift your thinking from putting rest as a reward that you get. Try to instead take pride in working hard so that completing a project or having a successful day of work becomes your reward. When you complete a task make sure to celebrate it. Take a second to step back and enjoy the completed task, so you can get that feeling of accomplishment which is far more rewarding, IMO, than getting to sit and veg on the sofa watching bad tv for an hour.
I’m a very VERY big believer that one thing that is EXTREMELY important in life is a sense of purpose. Having purpose and a feeling of fulfillment is 1000x more rewarding than a “break.” So, take time to take pride in your work, appreciate what your work gave you, and it’ll compound into future tasks. You’ll remember that feeling of purpose and that feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment and it can help motivate you in later tasks to strive for that same feeling.
Our brains LOVE PROGRESS and SEEING progress can increase our motivation to keep going. So this is why I love a good to-do list. Take your list of to-dos (which you already have if you used my brain dump idea) and check off things as you complete them. Again this is reminding ourselves of the hard work we’ve done so far and rewarding our brain for being productive.
Stop Trying To Multitask
Listen, I’m just as guilty of multitasking as the next person. And, there’s definitely a time and place to multitask. That being said, it’s not how you want to complete all tasks. Even though it may feel like you’re doing two tasks simultaneously, your brain is actually switching back and forth between tasks, and our brains aren’t actually set up to work this way.
Studies have proven doing two tasks at once as opposed to separately, actually decreases the productivity of the events by up to 40%. Another study showed someone distracted by a phone call or email while trying to complete a separate task can temporarily lower their IQ by 10 points.
The reason being is every time your brain switches tasks, even though to you it feels like milliseconds, you’re forcing your brain to work harder. Every switch actually uses up glucose in our brain causing you to tire quicker and earlier and essentially not perform at 100%. Long story short, even if multitasking FEELS like we’re doing more, it’s actually not as productive. So try to get into the habit of working on one task at a time.
Declare A New Start
My last and final hack is one of my favorites, especially as a mom it’s one I use ALL the time because things so often don’t go how we anticipated or unknown things come up, which can standstill our motivation. So, my trick, when needed, is to hit the restart button.
Declaring a new fresh start is one of my BEST hacks when I’m in a rut, have faced some failures or setbacks throughout the day, or week, and am feeling frustrated or down.
Here’s the thing, we tend to wait for a “special time” to hit restart. We wait until Monday to start a new diet, wait for January 1st to set a new resolution, or say “I’ll start again tomorrow.” The reason people do this is because these are very concrete time markers that indicate past vs. present. And looking at the time this way, with the distinction of present and past, allows us to disconnect from the past setbacks or failures and say OK that’s behind me that’s over (you know it was yesterday or last week or last year), and so you can then look forward with a new more positive outlook.
But here’s the real hack, you don’t need to wait for one of these concrete time markers to do this. There’s no REAL difference between starting fresh in the morning vs starting fresh right now but our perspective of it.
You literally can start fresh anytime. It does take a little practice. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now and I find that I can almost immediately hit the refresh button at any point and get that same renewed feeling other people might get from waiting to start fresh tomorrow.
The process goes a little bit like this:
Step one: acknowledge you need a reset. So you might be like “ok, today is going downhill. My toddler threw their breakfast everywhere, I spilled my coffee, I didn’t get to the dishes like I wanted, I didn’t get enough time to work on XYZ,” or whatever. Acknowledge you’re feeling like the day is going downhill or that you’re feeling flustered or in a rut.
Step two: is to start the refresh. So, “OK, my fresh start starts right now. What happened in the past is done. It’s over. I can’t go back and fix it but it has no weight on what’s coming next. Just because all those things happened this morning it doesn’t mean the rest of the day will continue that way. Starting now, it’s a fresh start.”
As I said, it’s going to take practice to do this. But the more you do it the more you’ll find how it can work and the more successful you’ll be at it. A little trick to help as you first start doing this is to pair your reset with some type of feel-good event.
When you first start using the mental reset button, sometimes pairing it with a concrete action can help. Maybe you say, I’m going to run and get a coffee and then do my reset, or I’m going to take a 10-minute walk and then start my reset. Again it helps our brain distinguish past vs present so we can move on and focus on the future.