Getting Motivated to Start Something New

Is it the start of a new year that often gets you thinking about what made you so disappointed with your efforts last year, or is it simple pessimism? Because I’ve found myself not only reinventing my branding and website in an effort to clean out the cob webs of creativity, but writing many posts relating to said motivation, writing, and goals for the year. Not that this is necessarily an unusual or unwanted thing; it serves to get me moving and motivated for the year. It helps give me a renewed sense of purpose in my design efforts, though I still have procrastination issues.1

Believe me, most tasks I undertake are neither difficult, nor do they warrant such a reaction,2 but I find myself a little terrified of starting something that could become overwhelming. In order to move past that nasty procrastination stage, and arrive at an appropriately acceptable result, I employ a couple of simple strategies that makes the given task a little less daunting.

Find a mitigating factor. In the case of getting projects started at work, I often need to find something that helps to lessen the impact of a larger task. In most circumstances that means finding a solution that makes the project easier to finish by speeding up the menial tasks; often I’ll see if there is a way to use php to my advantage by setting up a little script to run through a file, file names, or output some code that would have taken me quite some time to do manually. In other cases, I’ll take advantage of actions and batch processing in Photoshop in order to run through a long list of images in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of manual processing possible.

Delegate tasks efficiently. Which tasks are of the need‐to‐do‐now variety and which are less important? In a lot of cases I tend to block early sections of my day for the easy to do tasks in order to get them done, as well as to do something that requires less concentration in general, and devote the rest of the day to one or two of the more important projects on the docket. This doesn’t always work well and may not be what others recommend, but it helps me to work through tasks efficiently as well as to prepare myself mentally for the most important project; I do break this pattern if important projects are more urgent than usual. The reason I adopted this pattern was primarily as a way to deal with early morning meetings, as meetings would often interrupt my creative flow on the larger projects.3

Look on the bright side. You could always be doing something less fulfilling than what it is you are getting ready to start. I’ve not written much in the past year as far as short stories, editorials, poetry, and web design posts go, and this is because I lacked the motivation to do so. Why? Because I don’t always appreciate my skill and look pessimistically at my ideas. Don’t emulate that. Look for the good in your ideas, and you’ll be less likely to put them aside.

Make your goals public. It’s more difficult to slack off when others are holding you accountable, though it is easy to cheat that one if you’re doing it online only. Make the announcement on your blog, but make sure you’ve got a living person breathing down your neck to make sure you’re completing a task.

To summarize. You should find a mitigating factor, delegate tasks efficiently, look on the bright side, and make your goals public in order to make sure you get yourself motivated. As I said, these are simple things that I’ve done to motivate myself, and they work for me; which means, they may not work for you; which means…that you should think of things that help to motivate you, write about it, and act on it. Get to work, and hold yourself accountable to your goals.

  1. I find myself putting things off quite a bit. Mostly out of fear of the task rather than shear laziness, but neither excuse is good because once I start a task I generally do it quite well.
  2. We’re talking simple things, writing, working on new projects at work, nothing intensive.
  3. Not that I have to participate in a ton of meetings, this pattern just made it easier to deal with the days that included morning meetings.