So I was on vacation last week, and I came home completely inspired to work on my personal projects. I was completely unpacked with all laundry and dishes done within an hour of being home. I made lists and goals. I was ready. I had PLANS, people.
Then I went back to work on Monday.
I work in a “cube farm,” a soul-sucking, you’re-a-number-not-a-person corporate black hole. I was able to keep my momentum until Tuesday morning, at which point I abused the snooze button and lost it all.
But I have PLANS, people!
So how can you stay motivated and inspired even when you are exhausted and have a mind of mush? It’s not easy, but it CAN BE DONE. That’s right, caps-lock has been RELEASED for this post. Read on for some ideas –
1. Be Prepared.
Have a handy list available that you can refer to when you’re too tired to be inspired. Depending on what you’re working on, this could be a list of deadlines, blog post ideas, a story outline, priorities of what you want to get done in the next 30 days, 3 months, by the end of the year, etc. When you feel like a lump on the couch and can’t even move your arm to reach the remote let alone remember what your grand plans are, a list can help you find your path.
2. Set the Mood.
So you peeled yourself off the couch, but now you’re staring at a blank computer screen. Need to light a fire under your butt? Try putting on some music to set the mood. I’ve been listening to K-Pop when I’m working on articles, a Fall Out Boy Pandora station when I’m cooking, and a Jeremy Soule station (video game instrumental) when I’m working on my fantasy novel. I mean, when you go to the movies, the soundtrack is just as important as the dialogue or plot because it sets the mood and draws you in – you can do the same thing with your own work in order to put you in the right mindset.
3. Don’t Wait.
Are you trying to do things in a certain order and are dragging your feet to get to the next item on your list? I know who you are – you Type-A folks – because I am guilty of this, too. I say this to you – for god sakes, SKIP IT. Don’t let it stop you. Joss Whedon writes his candy scenes WHEN HE WANTS. So don’t wait. If you have something on your mind but it’s on next week’s list, do it now. It’s better to check SOMETHING off instead of just staring at the list and getting nothing done. For example, I wanted to publish part one of my review of Saga Vol. 1 today for The Well-Read Geek feature, but because it is a more involved post and I want to do it justice it is taking much longer than I planned. Instead of stalling on that item, I’ve worked on other items while that article has been percolating in my mind.
4. Make the Time.
Don’t say, “This weekend I want to work on such-and-such.” Be specific. WHEN? Good intentions can lead you anywhere, and it might not be where you wanted to go. Grocery shopping, friends, family and chores can eat up your whole weekend – specifically schedule time for your work. While you may need to be flexible, setting aside that time for yourself will help you turn intention into reality. For example, I know my evenings can be busy, or I just might be exhausted and run out of steam – however, I know that if I wake up an hour early in the mornings before work, I will have 60 minutes of uninterrupted time to get something done. Bonus? When I head into the maw of the soul-sucking black hole, I already feel a sense of accomplishment for the day. (Trust me, it is HARD waking up at all, let alone an hour EARLY, but I’ve got PLANS, people!)
5. Talk About It.
There is something to be said about letting people know what you’re working on. You don’t have to get into specifics (I personally feel like I jinx myself if I get into too much detail on an unfinished project), but the moment you share with someone close to you, you make yourself more accountable. They care about you and they are going to follow up and see how things are going, because they know the project is important to you. It can be incredibly motivating to know that if you don’t get your stuff done when you say you’re going to and someone asks you how things are going, you’re going to have to say, “They’re not going.” Sad face. It’s so much better to give a positive progress report! You don’t have to be an island – you can use a close friend or family member to help you hold yourself accountable to your goals. Don’t let them slip away.
Ultimately, only you know how important your goals are, and only you can reach them. In the amazing words of Neil Gaiman, I leave you with this:
Now go finish your shit!