January, despite not really being any longer than other months of the year, always seems to drag ridiculously. At least to me. It never mattered whether I was at school, working or stuck at home – it still felt like the time slowed down. With the days still very short and its cold weather but without the festive excitement, it can be a real struggle to get through it without at least 3 breakdowns a week. In my case a day, but who’s counting. It is proving to be more of a challenge to be productive and stay motivated with every day passing. But with life not really slowing down and hundreds of deadlines coming up, we all need to get things done quickly. And if we do them quick enough, there might even be enough time to watch a few episodes of Friends, because, come on, it’s Friends. These 4 tips on how to be productive and stay motivated have been saving my ass (and university degree) for many years now, so I hope they’ll help you as well.
Wake up early
I can already hear you lot grinding your teeth at me. But waking up early actually had a lot of benefits. Instead of rushing every morning to get stuff done before you go to work/uni, you can sit down and have a cup of coffee. Read a magazine or a book. Have some time to breathe. Starting your day early gives you more time to attend to your chores and enjoy some leisure activities at the same time. There’s no need to rush simply because you gain extra time! Mornings also tend to be the most productive time of the day for many people. Why? There are far less distractions around you, especially if you live in a student house as everyone else will be asleep until 1pm.
If you work better at night – just ignore this point. But if you’ve never tried how productive you can be in the morning, then maybe that’s something to try in 2018. Don’t get discouraged if you feel grumpy at the beginning, your body will get used to early mornings with time!
Get things done one thing at a time
Easier said than done, right? I always admire people who can actually make pretty-looking lists and stay on top of everything. I was never the type of person to write a to-do list and tick it off as I go. And the reason is simple – I’m great at starting all the chores at once and then never finishing any. I get easily distracted by all the other things on the list and in my surroundings. For example, I started this blog post two days ago – before I managed to finish, I started a couple of other posts, wrote ideas for about 10 different ones, took photos but didn’t edit them and watched a ridiculous amount of Youtube videos.
I really suck at getting things done and it can be really demotivating. Not to mention that it’s not really productive because nothing gets finished when it’s supposed to. It can be hard to learn how to do one thing at a time as we’re so used to multi-tasking, but it’s not impossible. So next time your to-do list is longer than your arm, give yourself a time limit for each point. Be realistic though, you probably won’t write a 2000-word essay about politics in 30 minutes. Focus on one thing, the goal and how much time you’ve got left. If you give it your full attention, your productivity will rocket through the roof and the quality of everything you do will be so much better.
The best motivation to do something is knowing that there will be a reward waiting for you in the end. It’s like putting a carrot in front of a donkey to make it move forward. Whether that is feeling satisfied and accomplished or the biggest chocolate cake you’ve ever seen – a reward is a reward. And it’s a must if you want to feel your to-do list is worth doing. Gotta clean the whole house? Have a bath when you’re done. Have a long-ass essay to finish? A trip to the cinema afterwards sounds great. Having something to keep you going until the end will keep you motivated for sure. Just make sure your reward is good enough for you and you’re good to go.
Surround yourself with motivation
I don’t know about you, but if I lack motivation and my productivity is really slacking, my mood also drops to the bottom. In moments like these, I tend to turn to the things I know can lift my spirits, either my friends who I can vent to about what a failure I am only so they can give me a good kick in the ass and tell me to get my shit together, or the online space filled with motivational quotes and podcasts. Depends on my mood and what’s available quicker at that particular moment. The internet is filled with motivational speeches, tips and mood boards on Pinterest. If you can’t be bothered to go and search for it, I wrote a post filled with motivational quotes right here.
And finally… relax
It’s important to find a day in the week when you don’t have to do a lot (or anything at all). Make sure that you let yourself relax, because, despite the rewards and having extra time in the morning, it’s still good to just lay down for a while and just not worry about anything. Find some time in a week when you can just unwind and recharge your batteries. Spend some quality time doing something that fills you with nothing but positive feelings so you can start your productive period again the next day feeling more motivated and ready for it than ever.
Don’t worry, January will soon be over, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Before you know we’ll be sunbathing again and the world will spring back to life. Let’s just push through the dark period of the year. And maybe reward ourselves to a holiday or staycation at the end.
Until next time xx
How do you stay motivated in winter?