Let’s be completely real right now: it is f***ing hard to stay motivated during a global pandemic.
I don’t know what your life circumstances are. Every person reading this probably has different levels of stress and anxiety, different personal responsibilities, different financial needs and health concerns and on and on and on it goes.
But I’m going to guess that what hasn’t changed is your desire to accomplish something. Sure, you might have experienced varying degrees of interest in accomplishing whatever that thing is. You might feel really motivated to do a Couch-to-5K app one day, and almost no interest in going outdoors the next. But for most of you, I’m guessing there is still some kind of humming need to do something, especially amidst a world where it is safest to stay at home and do nothing.
I’ve been working from home during the pandemic, which is no different than what it was like before the world came to a stop. But I’ve always been someone who is comfortable working completely alone because I have a really full social life. Friends that live on my street and in town that I was (pre-March) getting together with weekly, if not more often than that. So my motivation levels have dipped and swayed over the past five months (ohmygod five!?).
So in an effort to keep myself sane and not feel like I’ve given up on everything I want to accomplish, I’ve implemented the below behaviors that have helped me maintain a work-ethic I’m proud of. And I want to share them with you in case they can support you in achieving something that matters to you.
- Pretend you’re excited about what you want to get done
Maybe this sounds ridiculous. I get it, I promise. But sometimes, motivation is all about mindset. I have personally experienced severe dips in my motivation and productivity that I’ve been able to drag back up because I spend day after day telling myself how excited I am to write/plan/organize/market, etc, even though I’d rather spend hours on the couch scrolling through TikTok. I am a firm believer that what we tell ourselves (about our bodies, minds, self-worth, priorities, etc.) ultimately manifests itself in how we go about our day. It’s time to take that practice and apply it to your desired task. Look yourself in the mirror (or car window) and remind yourself of all of the awesome excitement that has to do with completing what you’re wanting to motivate yourself to accomplish.
- Identify time during your day to work on your task, then half it
As I said at the top of this, we’re in a pandemic. Life is crazy. The idea that you can come home from a full day of work (or work for your full-time job all day from home) while managing your kids and meals and play time and everything else on your plate, and then spend two hours working on your new YouTube channel or running the path near your house… it’s a great idea. But if that idea were realistic, you probably wouldn’t need to read a blog post about staying motivated. So instead of trying to commit to a time that essentially saps you of every free moment in your day, work up to that two hours. Start with half of that. Or even a quarter of that. Try to get into a routine of making this new thing (or old thing) a part of your daily life, and then bump up the amount of time once you’ve found a place in your schedule that works.
- Utilize a Kanban Board to encourage forward movement
I share pictures of my own Kanban Board regularly on social media because it is SO. DANG. HELPFUL in keeping me motivated. If you’re not familiar, it’s a board that has three sections: to-do, in-progress, and done. The user places sticky notes with each task in the to-do section, and then moves those notes slowly into the in-progress section one at a time. The beauty of a board like this is that it takes the weight off of the mental exhaustion that comes with staring at a full list of things to complete. Instead, you identify one or two tasks that are a priority and those notes get moved down, one-by-one, to the in-progress section. Then, once the task has been completed, down to the done section. It is a fantastic visual to hang on the wall, or create digitally if you prefer to have something like this on your computer.
- Find ways (and people) to hold yourself accountable
This one is going to vary based on your own comfort level. Maybe this looks like asking your roommate to help you tackle your goals. Or maybe you start a YouTube Channel to share your progress. It can look like a lot of different things, and there’s no one right way. BUT… involving someone else to help you feel accountable to more than just yourself might provide the extra kick in the butt you need to keep moving.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Always practice grace and self-care
Living during a pandemic means that there are just different expectations. Of your time and your emotions and your resources. Be intentional with reminding yourself that perfection isn’t the goal. Improvement is. And even if your baby steps are the tiniest little things, or even if you need to take a break for a little while, that is okay. Not just okay, encouraged. It should be just as important to carve out time to reflect and pause and take a break as it is to complete this task in the first place, so don’t forget to take care of yourself just for the sake of trying to stay motivated.
Those are my tips! I hope they helped. For some of you, they might sound like common sense. For others, it might be the first time you’re hearing some of this. Either way, I hope you’ll let me know what you think and whether or not you utilize these tips to help you get going on whatever goals and tasks you want to complete.
Best of luck!
(and for more info on Kanban Boards, check out the video below from author Sarra Cannon. She is the woman I learned about boards from, and she explains exactly how to use them.)