Reader question… “I was wondering if you could share some advice. How can I stay motivated when I have a lot to do or a large project ahead of me? You seem to accomplish so much. I always have lists of things that need to be done but I keep putting them off. I feel overwhelmed most of the time.” –Maria D.

The most important part of staying motivated, I think, is to actualy begin whatever it is that you have to do. This may sound like ridiculous advice, but it’s so easy to keep procrastinating… especially with things you really don’t want to do or projects that seem so overwhelming, you just don’t know where to begin. If you just jump in there and do SOMETHING, that first barrier of not knowing where or how to begin has already been broken. So that would be my first advice… do something to start the project.

It helps me if I break large projects into smaller projects and concentrate on only one part of what needs to be done at a time. The prospect of cleaning a totally messy house, for example… it’s overwhelming to think that the whole house needs to be cleaned, and it isn’t easy to feel motivated. It’s so much easier to focus on one room at a time, or even one part of a room. By tackling only one thing at a time, there is always steady, encouraging progress you can see. That progess by itself is motivating.

Musk-mallow (Malva moschata)

The same concept works with really big projects too. We found that out with the second pond we dug by hand. If we had looked only at the prospect of digging up such a large area, the work ahead of us would have seemed totally disheartening. But because we set reasonable goals and concentrated on only a small area each day, we were still able to see a steadily growing pond, and this huge job became totally manageable.

Be realistic and flexible in your plans and expectations of yourself. Sometimes it helps to set a time limit (anything is easier to do if there is a break in sight)… or reward yourself when you reach your stopping point. The secret to getting a lot of work done is to work at a project CONSISTENTLY, even if it is only for small periods of time each day.

You will find that the more progress you can actually see, the more motivated you will feel.