hen you have a lot on your plate, it can get overwhelming to think about, let alone finish, everything on your to-do list. Whether it’s school, work, or even doing your own household chores, sometimes it can be hard to get in the groove. 

Distractions are everywhere and when you don't have motivation on top of the distractions it can cause a rapid recipe for disaster. Soon, you'll be drowning in your to-do lists, hoping for the best as your deadlines rapidly approach. This is a common form of phenomenon for many people, but it's more difficult for some, depending on whether you have a mental health disorder. Trying to motivate yourself can feel like a psychological trick sometimes. 

According to medium, 88% of people procrastinate for at least one hour a day when they have something to do. Most people will say, especially in college, ‘oh I'll just do it tomorrow.’ Or ‘I still have time to finish it.’ ‘It's not a problem right now.’ But, when you do that with every single thing that needs to be done, that's when it starts to become a very concerning issue. Too much procrastination leads to inner turmoil, stress, anxiety and worst of all for you to be lacking and whatever craft you're trying to master yourself in. Although we all experience it at least one time or another, what exactly causes procrastination and how can we avoid it? 

Many of us are stuck at jobs that don’t align with our skills and values. That causes inner conflict and lack of motivation. As a result, workers are more likely to put off their tasks.Photo courtesy of Pexels.

The phenomenon of procrastination 

During the famous Ted Talk ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator,’ Tim Urban argues that people who can’t motivate themselves need to spread their work out in an even quantity. That flow, however, didn’t apply to him. Although he had a plan for large projects, things would still fall through for him, and he wouldn't get things done. He found that he kept on revising his plan to put his bad procrastination skills to rest. His projects, he realized once he finished it, weren't that great, because he didn’t put in the effort.

He approached his flaws with a sense of humor. He says that the best way to avoid our urge to continue procrastinating is with rational decision thinking, rather than instant gratification. By thinking of and pushing yourself past the present moment, where you would want to prioritize easy and fun things, you will do well. Finding things to do that can motivate yourself is the way to go. You can watch Urban’s video for more of his tips on how to motivate yourself, but read on here for a few of mine. 

Managing your tasks by using a calendar or bullet journal might be a great way to get everything organized. Once you have your tasks set up in one place, you’ll just be able to cross them off your list. Photo courtesy of Pexels

Take your time.

This is the first and most important step and how to motivate yourself. If you give yourself plenty of time alongside a plan that you actually stick to you'll feel more motivated to finish it. This is simply because if you plan it out then all you have to do in a set day is a simple amount of tasks or a certain amount of work. For example, if you are hoping to write a book, and you don't even know where to start, first create an outline and a calendar for when you want to finish that. If you put that calendar physically somewhere that you see everyday or if you incorporate it into your day-to-day life, it will be a lot easier for you to focus on that project.

Even if you consciously dread finishing this book that you want to write (I’m not at all talking about myself here…) putting something in your everyday vicinity will subconsciously force yourself to work on it. It shouldn't, however, be something you have to force yourself to do, so try to find a way to make it fun and enjoyable to finish your project. This can be by rewarding yourself after you get past certain parts of your goal. If you need to read an entire dissertation in one night give yourself time to reward yourself throughout that process by taking a few moments to yourself. 

Don’t overthink it

Overthinking is the ultimate motivation killer. If you spend so much time thinking about something you want to do and you don't do it all you're going to do is cause yourself more stress and anxiety than you might have already had before. It's not a rational thing to do, and sometimes you need to break yourself out of it. The best way that I try to break myself out of a bad mindset or overthinking is by doing something physically exerting. I'm not talking about running a marathon, but maybe going on a short walk can clear your head enough so that you can motivate yourself to go back inside and finish your project, or even just get it started. 

Take short breaks 

Going back to the argument that you need to reward yourself for your work, a good way to do that is by taking short breaks. Once you reach a certain point in your research or work and if you have been sitting down all day, that is when you can reward yourself by taking a quick walk or by letting yourself be on your phone for a certain amount of time. First of all, you will be more excited to do your work and secondly you have something to look forward to so that finishing your work doesn't feel so dreadful. If you don't want to take work breaks while you are currently doing your task, a good way to reward yourself is by doing something nice for yourself. Whatever works for you personally can motivate you. For me, that's allowing myself to buy some new clothes after a paycheck or going to get my favorite coffee drink and not feeling bad about it.

Again, this varies from person to person so if you are able to take any kind of break for yourself find what works. If you truly can't think of anything that will motivate you, make one of your tasks finding that thing that can help motivate you. Turn your argument back on its head by challenging yourself to find the fault in what you're doing. Trust me the reverse psychology can work for yourself if you let it.

On average, people check their phones 262 times a day, or every 5 1/2 minutes. Nearly half of Americans consider themselves addicted to cell phones, and 83% of Americans feel uneasy leaving their phone at home. Photo courtesy of Pexels

Keep your phone and distractions at bay

Imagine that you're sitting in a crowded lunchroom trying to read a book and all you can do is focus on the conversations around you. That is what it is like for a phone to sit on your desk near you while you are finishing your work. Just the idea that your phone is around distracts you. I know that we were all constantly thinking about who might have texted us or what somebody might have said on our post but I heard you can throw your phone in 'Do Not Disturb’ and place it in a location that you can remember but also forget about. 

For instance, if you leave your phone on your desk even if it is in 'Do Not Disturb,’ you will think about wanting to check it. If you put it out of sight then it will be out of mind. This goes with any distractions that you might have. If you really think you can't study with friends then you should not hang out with friends while trying to work on things. We've all made these mistakes before and might have suffered the consequences. So here I am, a burnt-out gifted kid, trying to warn you of the harm that you can do to yourself.

Say daily affirmations to yourself

By saying daily affirmations to yourself you will be able to avoid any problems you might have with motivating yourself simply by doing it to yourself. Some good phrases that I like to use are: “I am getting better and better every day;” “All I need is within me right now;” “I wake up motivated;” and “I am an unstoppable force of nature.” If these phrases don't work for you, a simple Google search can help you find some affirmation lists that might assist your motivation. 

If you're like me, that means that you procrastinated finishing this article. Isn't it ironic how although I'm trying to give you advice,  I still managed to self sabotage myself?  Just kidding, if I never finished the article, then you wouldn't be reading this right now. But, I did think about all the ways that I could procrastinate finishing it before actually starting it. By using the skills that I mentioned above, I was able to trick myself into finishing it through some good old-fashioned motivation. 

Dec 3, 2021