What is motivation?
It’s that little (or big) internal buzz that gives you the boost to get out of bed, go to work, accomplish goals and seek out specific emotions such as happiness and fulfilment. In the simplest form, it’s how much you want something.
Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to be highly motivated all the time. Life happens and consequently motivation fluctuates due to many aspects – global pandemics, daily stressors, illness, careers and education to name a few, and sometimes it relies heavily on sheer willpower. Simply put, some days you will want to achieve things more than others; this can be down to several factors – how you manage your time, changes in the weather, a lack of sleep and tiredness, procrastination and feeling like the task at hand is just too big.
So why is motivation important?
Motivation is a key part of achieving success. From mastering specific skills to attaining new knowledge, stepping out of your comfort zone, and achieving big goals. Going to bed on time and choosing the right foods to eat – these all require the desire to seek change and of course, vast amounts of motivation.
Sometimes, the drive to get up and go is motivated by nothing but enjoyment, and the opportunity to better yourself, or socialise with friends and family. Other times, it may be because we’re being told what to do with minimal flexibility or opinion. Either way, motivation is an important factor in our daily lives to aid us in getting on with the tasks we need to get done.
Motivation Tips for Students
Right now, with the closure of schools to all but the children of essential workers, students are bound to be struggling with a loss in motivation, but what does this mean?
A lack of teacher interactions and peers can mean falling out of a routine and not sticking to timetabled lessons, and with exams being postponed and/or cancelled, it can make it easy to fall into a trap of thinking “What’s the point?”
What can you do to help yourself?
Develop a routine that works for you! This could help you to enhance your motivation and stay upbeat about learning:
- Wake up on schooldays at the time you normally would and go through your normal routine (breakfast, showering, etc) whatever that may be.
- Create a workspace that is comfortable and free from distractions.
- Try to stick to your school timetable including taking regular breaks and time out to eat lunch.
It could also be helpful to do some of the following:
- Arrange video calls with friends so that you carry out your schoolwork together – this way you can all support one another when motivation might be dwindling.
- Catch up with tutors when required.
- Consider the ‘5 minutes rule’ – Work on a task for just five minutes, with the understanding that you can quit after five minutes if you wish. Often, you’ll be motivated to keep going.
- Celebrate the small ‘victories’ and reward yourself with something that really puts a smile on your face. This could include heading out for your once-a-day exercise, watching a film, your favourite snack, or challenging yourself to try learning a new skill.
Keep in mind what it is that you want to achieve from completing your schoolwork. Do you have a specific goal career in mind? Note it down and keep in sight during the school day – it can really light the fire in your belly to keep you driving on.
Motivation Tips for Working From Home
Working from home has become the new requirement for the majority of us and it comes with an array of obstacles that affect motivation. These can include juggling parental responsibilities with the demands of what your employer expects of you during this time or creating a routine that works for you; maintaining some structure can be useful.
Consider – what does the working day generally look like, and how can that be incorporated into your home environment?
- Create a work setup that is comfortable and works for you.
- To do lists – prioritise the most important tasks, whilst outlining exactly what it is that you wish to achieve from that working day. This can help you stay on-track and focused and ultimately impacting your motivation.
- Break the bigger tasks into smaller actions, taking each one step at a time. This can help with feeling potentially overwhelmed, which can often lead to procrastination.
- Stay in touch with colleagues be it through emails or phone and video calls. Talk to your line managers if you’re struggling to help them understand your situation. Benefitting from supportive networks around you can positively influence mood and motivation to fulfil targets.
- Divide your time effectively and don’t sit for hours mulling over tasks – take regular breaks.
When you find your motivation and positivity is waning, it can help to bring your mind back and focus upon what inspires and makes you feel good; reading, watching a movie, exercise or whatever it may be, it won’t benefit any of us to sit and engage in negative thinking; look after yourself, stay connected virtually and stay safe.
We are living in very challenging and uncertain times right now and none of us can predict exactly what is going to happen over the coming weeks and months, and so it is important that we accept that we are bound to experience a ‘rollercoaster’ of emotions and with that, a continuous wavering in our motivation. And when this happens, we need to remind ourselves that it is okay to experience lulls in motivation from time-to-time – they are perfectly natural; a fundamental part of life in fact, especially when faced with challenges and change that our outside of our control.
Lulls in motivation are completely normal and to be expected. It’s no secret that we can all struggle with our motivation that bit more in the winter months – it’s colder and darker, there’s more wind and rain and we likely want to ‘hibernate’ rather than being productive and getting outside. This might not be too bad under normal circumstances when we’re still able to go to the office or social with family and friends, but remove that freedom and things start to get tricky and our motivation might wain.
So how can you help yourself with your motivation in a winter lockdown?
This is perhaps even more important during the winter months because as we mentioned above, our motivation is likely to be less than in the summer months. Simple little things like grabbing a hot water bottle to keep you warm while you’re working from home, treating yourself to a hot chocolate at the end of the day or taking hot bubble bath can all help to maintain your motivation levels. This also means keeping ourselves healthy and making sure we’re eating a balanced and healthy diet. Staying hydrated and getting enough sleep are also really important factors at any time of the year, but very much so during lockdown. Listen to your body (it usually knows what it needs) and take regular breaks when you need too.
This might be as simple as tidying or cleaning a room, redecorating, going through your wardrobe or make-up collection and having a bit of a clear-out (decluttering can help us feel motivated), hanging that picture you’ve been meaning to hang for months, or sorting through some old photos . Spending just 10 minutes on these each day could mean that by the end of lockdown you’ll have accomplished so much and you can enjoy more free time.
Use Screens Wisely
Right now, it can be easy to spend all our time on one screen or another – we are all guilty of it to some extent, but it can make us feel tired and demotivated so know your limits. Try using one screen at a time, take a regular break and make sure you are using screen time for the right things – to inspire and make you feel good – because this will likely help you with your motivation. You can find out tips for this here.
Maintain your Sense of Routine
Try and create your own ‘wind-up’ and ‘wind-down’ routines; doing certain things to wake us up and help us relax can put us in the right mindset and give us increased feelings of motivation. Check out our tips for Maintaining a Routine in Lockdown here.
Get Outside & Get Moving
Getting yourself up and moving can be that bit harder in the winter months, add a lockdown into that and it’s really no surprise we might lack motivation that bit more. A 10-minute walk outside can really help with motivation, maybe walk for as bit longer, by doing so you are getting fresh air and vitamin D which will make feel much more prepared to tackle the rest of the day. If you can’t get outside, try a home workout – or perhaps do it via FaceTime to make it fun or have some extra encouragement.
Talk It Over
Talking about things that are worrying or stressing you is always a great tool when you are struggling, this includes motivation. You can ask for tips and try them out yourself, and sometimes just talking and hearing another opinion can help you to refocus and find that motivation again.
Change Your Perspective
When you’re lacking motivation try and focus on what you have accomplished or what you can do to help to feel more motivated. You could try writing it down, or plan something to look forward to. If you find you’re having a lot of negative thoughts, try telling yourself that the thoughts aren’t helpful so I’m going to focus on something that is.
Stop comparing yourself to other people! We shouldn’t do this anyway, but especially right now – we’re amid a global pandemic and there is no expectation to spend all your free time being productive. Do what feels right for you. This also means separating your free time from study time or work and setting boundaries around your relationships too. It will be easier find the motivation when your boundaries are right!
Do Thing Badly
This might sound a little odd, we know! It’s better to have tried to have done something and failed than to not do it at all! It could help you understand that what you were doing wasn’t quite right for you, or it might give you the motivation to try again and do more. So, whatever it is you’ve be wanting to give a go – knitting, a home workout or cooking a new meal, why not give it a whirl!
There are so many ways in which you can help yourself to feel motivated and some of the above are a great way to get you started right now. We’ve much more information and resources to help you during lockdown as well as in more normal times so take a look at our website, social media or YouTube channel.