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 thing, I think, is to make a start on whatever it is that you have to do. This may sound like ridiculous advice, but it’s so easy to keep putting something off, especially if it is something you really don’t want to do or something that seems so overwhelming, you just don’t know where to begin. If you just jump in there and do SOMETHING to get yourself started, that first barrier of not knowing where to start has already been broken. So that would be my first advice… just make yourself start on whatever project you have ahead of you.
It helps me if I break large projects into small projects and concentrate on only one part of what needs to be done at a time. 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… but it’s so much easier to start on one room and make it look really good again before moving on to another room. By tackling one thing at a time, there is always steady, encouraging progress you can see, and that is motivating. The same concept works with bigger projects too, like the pond we dug by hand. If we had looked only at the prospect of digging up such a large area, it would have been truly disheartening… but when we concentrated on digging only a small area at a time, we were able to see real progress and a growing pond, and this huge job became totally manageable.
Once you have begun, my next advice would be to keep going, and again, this seems obvious, but this can often be the most difficult part. Sometimes it helps to set a time limit (anything is easier to do if there is a break in sight) or a reward for 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. The more progress you can actually see, the more motivated you will feel.
My final advice is to be realistic and flexible in your plans and expectations of yourself. Don’t lose sight of what is really important. Your husband (wife, partner, kids, etc.) probably won’t remember if you accomplished every item on your lists, but they will certainly remember a happier, more contented “you.”