Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Friday 5!
(It is intended to be weekly but creativity was stalled while I worked on my main website.)
What motivates you? Once you get there, how do you maintain it? People often express amazement when they see how much I am doing, wondering out loud where I find the time and energy to be writing so much. The reality is, I don’t feel like I do a great deal at all and that is likely because I am lead my passion.
Yes, I write but I have to work hard at a) Keeping my mind clear and positive and b) maintaining my motivation.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share five tips that help to keep focused. Maybe this can help you too, or perhaps you can share some of your own!
- Change your environment.
Okay, so have a look at where you spend the most of your time. Is it cluttered? Is there plenty of natural light coming in? Do you have access to what you need? How’s the noise levels?
At home, I turned my front room into a work space. The only electrical gadgets in here are my wifi box and my latop. I keep my desk pretty tired and everything has its place. I find I can’t focus when everything is all over the place, so this room is pretty organised. I used to have different writing books, stationary and notes in my bedroom, my living room and in my former dining room, but I’ve put it all in once space now so it is easy to find. It makes a huge difference.
I find I can sometimes work on my creativity during the day, but mostly only social media type posts. I leave the bigger stuff until my children go to bed, as of course during the day they are playing and need my attention. Sometimes I leave my phone to charge in another room so I can focus on whatever I’m working on.
Creating a focused environment is mostly about making choices. There’s no point you sitting there feeling stressed about the noise, the distractions and the constant disturbances. If you find you fall asleep when working from your bed, sit in your living room. Avoid sitting on the sofa if comfort makes you lazy. If you get distracted by music, don’t listen to it or perhaps listen to meditation music on Youtube instead. If home doesn’t work, go to the library or a cafe. Get active. Get mobile.
2. Affirmations and to-do lists.
I’m big on affirmations, (if you’ve checked out my Instagram profile, you’ll agree) and I like them to be visual. Bright colours help for sure, but I love nothing more than to write affirmations down on colourful post-its and then stick them on my wall. It looks good and without realising it I am subconsciously absorbing the written words, even if I see them every day.
In my bedroom, I have a wall of affirmations and a wall of action. The wall of action pretty much has all my creative ideas written down on post-its, everything I want to do and achieve. It’s not set in stone and as time goes on, I add to it. Whenever I’ve achieved one of the tasks on the action wall, I move the post-it to another part of my room. This is more to highlight the progress that I am making because often it doesn’t always feel like I am progressing at all, so it’s a pleasant surprise when I can see for myself how much I’ve achieved just by looking at those pretty pink post-its.
To-do lists on lined paper can work too, but if they are too long they become overwhelming and daunting. I like to date mine and just do what I can. Eventually it will all get done and I know this, so I focus on the urgent tasks first, crossing them off as I go. You will find what works for you.
3. Take breaks.
Don’t overdo it. It’s good to be focused and to work hard but we do need to take time to rest our minds. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on what you’re doing if you’re on a roll, just recognise the signs that you’re going into overdrive and put a stop to it by taking a time out.
When I’m on a roll, I take ten minutes here and there to listen to music, scroll through social media, respond to messages, make a cup of tea or even wash up. I don’t want to be stuck in front of a computer screen 24/7, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to take a break and then return to what I was working on with fresh eyes. It makes a difference.
The past few nights I have stayed up late and so I know I will allow myself a night of music and film indulging tomorrow night, because I don’t want to overdo it.
It can be a few minutes, hours, days or even weeks, but whatever the length of time, it is important you take time to switch off and relax. If we burn out, we can’t be productive so if you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer, take care of you.
4. Remind yourself of the great things you’ve done.
Self doubt is a terrible thing and it creeps in through our insecurities whenever we least expect it. Pay attention to it for long enough and it will consume you. So nip it in the bud when you feel it coming on and remind yourself of all the great things you’ve done so far.
An idea: Get a pen and paper. Write down all the things that you’ve done and are proud of. All the things you’ve achieved, no matter how small it is. It could be that you learned about SEO’s and now your website comes up first on your Google Search. It could be that you stepped outside of your comfort zone and went to a networking event, that later brought forward many opportunities. It could be that you wrote with confidence, took your time and gave yourself patience, not letting your dyslexia hinder you.
Anything you can think of, write it down. Write “I am proud of (insert what you’re proud of) because…” and then read it out loud. You might feel silly for a hot second but ultimately you will have reminded your subconscious of all the reasons why you are great, and you’ll be motivated to do more of the same in order to maintain that feeling of accomplishment.
5. Take that first step.
Listen, if you wait for perfect circumstances and that moment of inspiration, you’ll probably be waiting forever.
You have to work hard at motivation and in the first instance, you’re not going to want to bother. But do it anyway and keep going, because before you know it you’ll have that feeling of “I can so do this” and you’ll be right there being motivated to do more.
Start small if you have to, refer to your to-do list or action wall and slowly work through what you want to achieve.
For me, I tell myself “It’s only going to take five minutes” because of course I have five minutes to spare, we all do. Even when I’m boiling the kettle, while I’m waiting I’m making notes for blog content. While I’m sat with my children while they bathe, I may be writing a to-do list for later on in the evening. I set the wheels in motion by doing the littlest of things so that I am ever empty-handed at my starting point, I always have something to build on.
Just do it. Like Nike. But better.