by Kate M. Colby
Have you ever felt super-motivated to write, learn a new recipe, clean out your closet, etc. at the most inconvenient time, only to completely lose all motivation when you finally have a free moment?
Yeah, me too. So, how do you reclaim that burst of inspiration when you have free time? And better yet, how do you hang onto motivation and avoid losing it altogether?
Well, there’s no magic formula (obviously), but here are a few tricks you can try.
Record how you feel in the moment
You may not have time to write 1,000 words or paint a masterpiece when motivation strikes…but you may have time to capture that spirit. Scribble down how jazzed you are about your idea, gush about it in a voice-recording app, or share a quick post on social media. Then, when you’re feeling lazy later, refer back to it and get yourself psyched up again. (You can also do this after being productive to remind yourself how satisfying it was!)
Write down your goals
In one of your rare free moments, write out what it is you’re working towards, whether it be a finished book, full-time creative work, or a clutter-free house. Post your goals where you work, either at your desk, on the fridge, or on your phone’s home screen. Whenever you feel like procrastinating, read them aloud to yourself. Focusing on the long term can make the short term feel less grueling.
Schedule a session and show up
I have a nightly writing/author work session after dinner. Sometimes, I have zero motivation to be productive. But I’ve found that, if I sit down with a glass of water, log onto the computer, and open a Scrivener document or WordPress post…eventually, I will work. Just by showing up, my brain recognizes that it is time to write and the creativity comes.
Find role models
Chances are other people have achieved your goals, so look to them for motivation. Bookmark their website for reference, post their quotations on your wall, or read or listen to an interview with them before you sit down to work. Not only will this make you feel less alone, but it just might engender a healthy sense of competition and get your butt in gear.
When you do your writing or meet your other daily goals, give yourself a treat — a chocolate, a cheap ebook, or even just a gold star on your calendar. If you’re like me and tend to cheat (as in justifying not working with lawyer-like skill, then rewarding yourself anyway), find a friend or family member to be the keeper of the rewards. (And make sure it is someone who won’t fall for your puppy dog eyes!)
These five items are tactics to increase your motivation, and they might not all work for you. However, the underlying strategies likely will, once you figure out your personal ways to execute them. Those strategies are: knowledge of and commitment to your goals, a sense of purpose, self-discipline, and being kind to yourself. If you can do those things in one way or another, you’ll learn to keep your motivation close by so it is ready to smash some goals when you are.
Guest post contributed by Kate M. Colby. Kate is a writer of multi-genre fiction and creative nonfiction as well as a writing-craft blogger. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Baker University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology.