First, though, I have a lot of work to finish. I’m dreaming of the woods while looking at words on a screen. It’s not going well. In the words of my six-year-old nephew: “I don’t want to!”
How can you motivate yourself to do the work that’s in front of you when your mind is already on vacation, when you’re tired, sick, or bored, or when the job is ugly and overwhelming?
The short answer is to practice BIC time: put your butt in the chair and get to work.
Not enough? OK, let’s talk techniques.
Work Where You Won’t Be Distracted
This might mean a change of scenery, such as working at the local library, or working in your usual space because you’re more focused there. Sometimes I need to work in my office because it’s separate from the rest of the house and offers few distractions.
Ask Colleagues to Help
Share your struggle with a fellow editor and ask for inspiration or give them permission to chase you back to your work.
Make a Plan
It’s easy to forget what you have to do when you’re tired and unmotivated. Create a list of what you need to do and plan what you’ll do during this session. This is a great use of a bullet journal, if you use one.
Chunk Your Work
Break your work tasks into smaller portions, and use a timer to help you stick to it. Chunking results in short bursts of focus and energy, which you then replenish during a short break. Pomodoro timers are a great online solution. Or use a timer that appeals to you. I like my Death Star timer:
Take Frequent Breaks
When you’ve completed a chunk, take a quick break. But be careful: when your motivation is low, a five-minute Facebook break can easily turn into an hour (ask me how I know).
Instead, walk away from your desk: refill your coffee, put in a load of laundry, walk down the office hall—anything that will get you out of your current headspace but that won’t result in abandoning your work.
Set a goal for what you’ll accomplish and reward yourself if you make it. Keep the reward in line with the goal, otherwise your rewards will experience scope creep. Finished editing a long chapter? Take a half-hour break. Finished the whole book? Go do something fun. Or nap. Naps are good.
What do you do to motivate yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments section!