I’ll be the first to admit that not every day of this quarantine has been productive. There have been days I’ve become one with my couch, pushed off tasks, or simply refused to get excited about the things that once lit me up. And for a while, I felt really bad about that. I questioned if my heart was still in it, if I had what it takes, and if I even deserved to still be doing what I was doing.
But the more I talked about this with others, the more I realized, I wasn’t alone. And it wasn’t that uncommon.
One of the most unexpected things that’s happened is my constant yo-yo-ing of motivation and productivity. Which, for someone who has been entrepreneurial for 10+ years, being unproductive feels really weird. Not only that, but it also comes with a huge amount of guilt.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about.
It turns out a lot of us are feeling this way, even the most motivated and ambitious people. And while I don’t want to understate the importance of self-care and listening to your mind and body when it needs a rest, there is a difference between needing a break and simply needing a bit of a kick towards motivation. That’s where this list comes in.
If you’re feeling stuck and looking for a little guidance on how to get that motivation going again, this is for you.
Give yourself some space to figure it all out
It’s become a bit of a cliche to say at this point, but we are living in unprecedented times. That means we kind of have no idea what we’re doing. So take some time to understand what you really want and need right now, and where your attention should be.
You might have thought this month would be all about touring, and now you’re focusing on writing new music instead because it brings you joy. That’s ok. Things are going to look and feel different than we thought. So taking the time to really focus on what you want and why you want it, and then set new goals and to-dos accordingly, is important.
Set specific days and times to work towards your to-dos
Nothing gets done if you wait until you feel like it, or until you “have time.” Trust me, I know. If you want to get something off your to-do list or celebrate a massive achievement, you’re going to need to carve out time to do it, and I’ve found the easiest way to do that is to set a date and time that you work on those things consistently.
For instance, let’s say you have a 9-5 and you know you’re most productive in the morning. That means from 6-8 you should be waking up early to work on all your creative tasks. You can leave emails and other mundane tasks until after work.
But do set time every day/week/month to do the tasks that move you closer to your goals. That consistency is key.
Give yourself rewards throughout the day
This is something that’s transformed the way I approach the day. These can be as big or as little as you want. The important thing is you have something to look forward to.
I do this a few ways. On a weekly basis, we have certain dinner nights I look forward to. IE: Thursday we order Indian food, Monday we make homemade pasta. (Yes, most of my rewards center around food). These are small, consistent things that brighten my day, and keep me in a good headspace.
On a daily basis, I walk my dog twice a day while listening to a podcast I like (reward). I take at least 15 min a day to read (reward). I relish in shower time and make it feel like a mini spa-day when I can, complete with masks and more reading time (reward).
Find what makes you happy and boosts your mood throughout the day and week. Make it a regular part of your routine.
Re-evaluate your goals as needed
You know that old saying about the best-laid plans? Well, that phrase was made for these times. Try as you might, odds are there will still be things that don’t go according to plan. Knowing how to quickly adjust and pivot your goals and expectations will keep you working towards the things you want, and filtering out those that don’t.
Surround yourself with those that uplift you
It is more important now than ever that we surround ourselves with those that uplift us. Those who make us feel good about ourselves and our choices. It is so easy to get down, to feel stressed, to be anxious, that we need to be sure that we’re surrounded by others who believe in us and see the best in us. The people that will (virtually) hold us when we’re sad, but also tell us when we need to get up and try again.
Reach out to friends and family but also join Facebook groups that are full of ambitious people like yourself. Follow Instagram accounts that make you smile (and unfollow those that don’t).
Do whatever you have to do to surround yourself with the people, things, and routines that light you up, and watch how big of a difference it makes in your productivity and motivation.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.