Are you wondering how to motivate yourself in lockdown 2.0 working from home? You're not alone! Learning how to motivate yourself is HARD, and it's even harder to make it stick! Sure, there are plenty of time management techniques out there we can learn, but how do high-achieving people always seem to get way more done in their day than the rest of us?
I know a lot of highly successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs, who seem like they are superhuman, juggling family and multiple businesses with what seems like total ease, so how do they do it?
Firstly - they are definitely NOT superhuman and they don't have access to any magic time management techniques. What they ARE is laser-focused on their end-goal, clear on their purpose and values, and confident they can overcome their challenges. In my experience, being this focused goes way beyond simple time management skills. Of course, time management techniques will help - but ONLY once you've done the background work will they actually stick.
So, if you want to get motivated and STAY motivated, no matter what life throws at you, read on for my 5-point plan 👇
1. All good entrepreneurs are clear about their values... It might seem a bit strange, but one of my top time management tips is actually to take time out, to determine what’s really important to you. It could be anything - family, financial security, kindness, control, personal growth, adventure. Get it on your list if it's essential to your well-being.
Next step is to narrow it down to your top 5. These are your core values that are fundamental to you. If at any time you feel you're struggling with motivation and cannot find how to motivate yourself no matter how hard you try, it's my guess that what you're doing is out of line with these values.
Keep them somewhere you can see them every day - currently I have my list of values in a file saved on my desktop where I can refer to them easily, in the past, I’ve also kept a file of images to hand and even made a mood board which I pinned to the wall in front of my desk.
Now, if you have a tricky decision to make, or you're wondering how to get motivated, you can refer back to your list of values to make sure that whatever conclusion you reach, or action you take, it’s in line with what’s important to you. It might be slightly time-consuming at first, but making decisions will be so much easier and quicker, and knowing how to get motivated again when you hit a bump in the road will be much simpler, when what you're doing is in line your deepest-held beliefs and values. If it's not, make sure you read point 2! 👇
2. Without exception, any businessperson worth their salt will start with the end in mind. They know want to achieve in 5 or 10-years’ time, and work backwards from there. If they want to get motivated, all they need to do is refer to their end goal. Obviously the further ahead you go the more vague your plans will be, and that’s perfectly OK. In fact, it’s normal for plans to flex over time, so it's a good idea to review your goals every six months or so to make sure they're still relevant - the point is that by thinking about what you want for your future self, you can make better decisions in the present and it makes it far easier to know how to motivate yourself.
I use my 'growth plan' spreadsheet below. I tend to start five years ahead, and my metrics are geared around my business growth, but you can use this template for life goals or personal growth - You'll notice I have included a column for my family goals alongside my business metrics. That's because family is one of my core values.
Years ago, I was in a corporate role which didn’t suit me. I desperately wanted to work for myself, but I felt stuck and frustrated. Once I’d redefined my values and written down my (in this case) 10 year-plan, not only did I know I was working towards a better life, but I felt so much happier in the present, knowing that it was within my control to change my circumstances and achieve my dream – even if it was a long time in the future.
These techniques motivated me to identify what I wanted and the actions I needed to take to make it happen, and it worked! I eventually left my corporate job to set up my first business - a successful design consultancy ✨
3. Know what you don’t know. Effective businesspeople don’t let a lack of skills in an area sap their confidence or waste time worrying that they’re not good enough. They simply recognise their weaknesses, quickly identify the gaps in their knowledge and either gather the skills they need or bring in outside support to do what they can’t.
Again, I use a trusty spreadsheet for this. (are you spotting a pattern here?) I find my ‘gap analysis’ tool helps me see the bigger picture and think more clearly. I find I procrastinate most when I'm faced with a task I don't know how to do. One of my values is personal growth, so if I'm stuck and I don't know how to get motivated I remind myself that I love to learn new things, and that's usually enough to motivate me!
Once you've identified your gaps and development needs, you can add them to your growth plan in point 2.
4. Now you’re clear about your core values, the long-term goals you want to achieve, and the steps you’ll need to take to get to every stage, we can start talking about time management skills. I like to plot when I'm planning to tackle a certain task. This keeps me motivated by helping me focus fully on the task in hand, knowing it's been planned in advance and it's going to get me one step further towards my end-goal. There's nothing more un-motivating than not really knowing if what you're doing is moving you forward.
I’ve created ANOTHER very simple spreadsheet - A 90-day plan, with the months of the year along the top and the areas of focus down the side. That way it's easy to see that I'm moving forward in every area. Once a task is completed I colour it in orange. It's good to identify how to motivate yourself, and personally I find just ticking tasks off a list very motivating, (I have been known to specifically write down a task just so I can immediately tick it off 🤓 Something to do with dopamine I think!)
5. So, how to motivate yourself every single day? How to get motivated on a dreary Monday morning when you're tired and you just can't be bothered? That's when you need your day-to-day time management techniques ✨
It will not surprise you to know that I have a spreadsheet to help me to plan my week - my weekly planner is below. Again, this is specifically for my business but I also have one for cleaning and one for planning out family meals 🤓
I group my tasks into 5 categories, so I know I’m covering every area each week, otherwise things get forgotten and relegated to the bottom of my list. Being an entrepreneur, I am incredibly impatient and tend to want to do everything all at once.
My weekly planner is one of my top time management tools because it helps me see that if I don't manage to achieve something I can put it on the following week's to-do list. I love clearing my list by the end of the day ✅ again, it's knowing what makes you tick and how to motivate yourself, so I try to make sure I don't give myself too much to do on any one day.
On Monday mornings I write down what I want to achieve by Friday afternoon, noting down any meetings or webinars I have to attend or deadlines I need to meet. I schedule these into my digital calendar and set myself alerts so I don’t forget. I use a to do list app called Todoist to plan the tasks on each day as it syncs with my phone and I can set myself reminders, but there are many similar ones and many of them are free to use.
That's it ✅ Now you can see what I mean when I say that learning how to motivate yourself is much more than learning time management techniques. Yes it's important to hone your time management skills, but only after you've made sure you're working towards a goal that's true to your core values and will get you one step closer to your dreams ✨
If those successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople have any magic skill, it's that they are absolutely committed to their end goal, they are clear on their purpose and it's in-line with their deepest values. Once you know that, you are unstoppable!
Let me know if you would like an editable version of any of the spreadsheets above in the comments below and I'll send you the files ✨
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