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When you are tired and busy and stressed, it’s hard to find the motivation to get things done. Your body craves sleep and you just want to Netflix and chill.
When I have a million things on my plate, I get analysis paralysis where I spend so much time trying to figure out what to do first that nothing actually gets done.
When you have to balance mom life and work life, the to dos can get overwhelming. It’s times like these where motivation can feel impossible to find.
What do we mean by motivation?
According to the Oxford dictionary, motivation is a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. It can also mean a desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm.
Motivation is in essence what causes us to do or not to do something. There are a million and one different things that can motivate you to do a particular thing.
When you make a sandwich you may be motivated by hunger or by your kids repeating that they want one for the millionth time. You may take out the garbage because you are motivated by fear of the smell or because you have a deep sense of pride in maintaining your household.
When you are feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated, the key is to figure out what will be motivating to you in that particular situation. You need to know what type of motivation will work for you.
What are the two types of motivation?
Although they can be broken down even further into sub-categories, there are two primary types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. All types of motivation will fall under one of these categories.
Intrinsic motivation is produced by internal rewards and reinforcers. According to Serenity Creations Online, “Some examples of internal rewards are enjoyment, achievement, a sense of competence. Some examples of internal reinforcers are “Shoulds”, “Musts”, and “Oughts”, a guilty conscience, and Toxic Shame.”
In many ways this can be more motivating than external motivations. You are in control of your intrinsic motivations and they are not something that just goes away.
For example, if Alzheimer’s runs in your family and you fear having it yourself, you will do anything you can to prevent it. This fear won’t suddenly go away, so you will continually be motivated to do what you can to prevent the disease.
Extrinsic motivation is motivation caused by external factors. This can include money, praise, disciplinary actions, rewards, accolades, etc.
So, as opposed to our Alzheimer’s example above, a speeding ticket is an example of extrinsic motivation. You are motivated not to get a ticket so you don’t have to shell out the cash. However, if you are on the highway and you don’t see a cop around, you may be less motivated to stay within the speed limit.
While external factors can be motivating and a useful way to motivate yourself, they are often temporary. They can get you to complete this task, or that project, but they aren’t likely to motivate you to make a lasting life change.
How can I increase my energy and motivation?
Depending on what you need to get done, there are several things you can do to increase your energy and motivation. Not everything will be appropriate for every situation, but there is definitely something here that will work for your situation.
Exercise Every Day
Nothing, not even caffeine, gets your energy levels up, like some good old exercising. It doesn’t have to be some crazy long, back-breaking workout either. Take a 5 minute jog around the block, do a tabata, or walk the dog
Put on your happy music and have a dance party. This works by yourself or with your kids. You get quality time with the kids + exercise + more energy to get what you need to do done! It's a win-win-win!!
Exercise boosts your energy and sends oxygen to your brain both of which will help you get back to getting things done.
Look for the Light
Busyness always comes in seasons. This week has been crazy: Tyler's birthday party is this Sunday and we have been in an insane rush to finish the basement playroom in time.
Last week my husband had 2 performances for a play he’s in, there was Valentine’s Day, and the 100th day of school. On February 27th are my husband’s and my nephew’s birthdays. Plus I did mine and my mother in law’s taxes last weekend.
BUT, after that things calm down for a bit. The next big thing (my birthday) is not until April. SO in a few more days, there will be a calm. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel can help you do what you need to do now.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all your to dos. Remind yourself that things will eventually calm down.
Contrary to popular belief, fasting when done correctly can actually give you more energy and clear-headedness. Plus, when you prepare your body for a fast, it’s easier than you might think.
Think about it. Way back when we were hunting for our food, there could be times when we would have to go for days between kills. If when we ran out of food, our mental faculties and energy decreased, we’d be screwed. It would be that much harder to get more food.
In reality, when we were out of food, that’s when we would need our senses to be the most sharp. That’s when we really need a successful hunt. When we fast, we can awaken that same reaction.
That said, it is important to fast correctly. The 131 Method has a detailed and healthful protocol for fasting. I definitely recommend it if you want to try this super successful method of staying motivated.
Fix Your Diet
If you aren’t fasting, then it is just as important to eat for energy. We all know that feeling after thanksgiving dinner when you don’t even want to move. If you want to get things done, that’s probably not the best way to eat.
Instead eat light, healthy, unprocessed foods. Cut down on the starchy food that just sit in your stomach, and eat those nutrient dense greens, healthy fats, and healthy proteins that give you the energy to get things done.
Cut down on sugar which can cause you to get a rush and then crash. You want to be eating things that will give you sustainable energy.
Have you ever had a salad that made you feel tired and sluggish? Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you want to have energy to get things done, eat for energy.
When you are low on motivation, a good quote by a person you admire can be just thing to get you back in the game.
Go search motivational quotes and make a motivation/inspiration Pinterest board. Find messages or people that inspire you and add them to this board. Of print out the quotes, and pictures of inspiring people and places and make a physical inspiration board.
Whenever you find your motivation lacking, look here to give yourself some motivational juice. This post can help you find some motivational quotes for moms.
6. Drink More Water
Your body needs water to function especially your brain. In fact, your brain is made up of 75% water.
So if you want to think clearly and improve your memory of the things you have to do, drinking adequate water is essential.
An easy way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to check your pee. When you are adequately hydrated, your pee will be pale yellow to clear in color. If it’s dark yellow, you need more water!
7. Get Support.
Sometimes as moms, we like to play the martyr. We love to complain about all the things we have to do and how our efforts are expected yet go unrecognized.
Often times it's because we don't talk about it. Now I'm not saying to rub all the things you do in people's faces, but if they don't know we are struggling, they why would volunteer help.
When you know you have a busy day, tell people. Tell your spouse, you have all these things that need to get done. Chances are they can help you with some of them. Say something like “I have so much to do today I’m feeling super overwhelmed and need to get them straight in my head. Do you have a minute to help me list them all out?”
Need a few items to prep food for the birthday party? Don't demand that they go, but instead list the things you need to get done today and explain how stressed you are.
They will see that this is something that they can easily do to help you out and will often offer to take it off your plate. They feel like they are helping you and you don't have to ask. Score!
8. Focus on One Thing at a Time
With so much going on we are often jumping from task to task.
You’re making lunch in the morning and you remember that that permission slip is due. So you go sign the permission slip and put it in your kid’s book bag. When you get to the book bag you realize that the homework is not in there and you have to go get that. Meanwhile, lunch is still sitting out on the counter…
Instead of jumping from task to task, make notes for yourself. You can use pencil and paper, the notes app on your phone, or voice notes.
When something pops into your head to do, make a note of it and then put it aside. Then go back to whatever you are doing and complete it. Try these tips if you need help finding focus.
By focusing on one thing at a time you can get things done more quickly. It takes time to switch from task to task plus jumping around leaves many things undone. Get one thing done and then you get the pride of completing a task which will help you feel motivated to start the next one.
9. Make a List and Check it Once
Nothing motivates me like seeing things get done. When progress is being made, it is a whole lot easier to keep going.
Make a list of all the things you need to do and then check things off as you complete them. Seeing things get crossed off your list is a great way to motivate yourself to get more things done. It also makes the list of things left to do seem less daunting.
10. Reward Yourself
If you have been procrastinating on something for a while, you may need something concrete to motivate you to get it done. Plan a reward for yourself for when you accomplish the task.
If you have been putting off doing your taxes, plan a fun weekend away for when you get your refund check. This can help you feel more motivated when you have something concrete to look forward to.
Other things you can use to reward yourself include a fun date night, a mani/pedi, a girls night out, or a trip to the movies.
11. Get an Accountability Partner
Have you ever told someone you were going to do something and then felt like now you had to do it? Or better yet, have you ever not told someone about something you wanted to do in case it never happened?
When you have someone else who knows what you need to do and is willing to hold you to it, you are more likely to get it done. Tell a friend or family member about that thing you’ve been putting off. Ask them to check in on you to make sure you get it done.
Your spouse may really like this job as it gives them a chance to nag on you for once, lol.
12. Start Your Day on the Right Foot
When you start your day off wrong, it is really hard to get it back on track. You feel defeated right off the bat and it’s hard to accomplish anything.
That’s why it is so important to stack the odds in your favor and start your day on the right foot. Do the things that make you feel good in the morning so you can feel happy and energized when you start to tackle your tasks for the day. This post has 5 steps you can take to start your day off right.
How do you maintain motivation?
Once you start a project or a task maintaining your motivation can also become an issue. When progress slows or obstacles come in your way, it can be hard to maintain the energy you previously had for the project.
There are in fact things you can do to help you keep your motivation for a task or project when you feel like you are running out of steam.
Write down and regularly remind yourself of the end goal
If you are re-modeling the playroom yourself and figuring out all the Sheetrock cuts is driving you crazy, take a break. Remind yourself of why you started the project. Picture the happy faces on your kiddos when they have a room they can all enjoy and play in. Once you remind yourself of the mission, it’s easier to get back to work.
Use Tracking for Momentum
When you decide to commit to drinking more water, your first few days you are motivated by your excitement for getting healthier and initiating this habit, but after a few days that excitement wears off. What keeps you going is not wanting to break the streak.
You can use this same idea to keep motivation for completing other tasks as well. Track each day that you work on a particular task or project. Use that list to motivate you to keep going and not break the streak.
For more ideas on keeping your motivation, check out my post on habits that can help you stay motivated.
What do you do to motivate yourself? Have any of these ideas worked for you?