Motivation Acquisition


I’ve had trouble recently with motivation. I’ve been tired, stressed, and generally discombobulated. My sister and I had an exchange – part of a thread that led to me happily cartooning dragons for friends and procrastinating housework in favor of making folks smile a little – where I asked her if she’d share her motivation. 

Which led to me thinking about ways I get myself to move and produce on days when I really don’t want to. Coming home from work, if I’m going to do anything, I have to walk through the door and hit the ground running. If I sit, all is lost. 

So here are my top steps to acquire motivation. 

  1. Get up and walk away from the computer. 

What? You’re back? That was it! Oh, all right. Here’s some more. 


2. Go shower and get dressed all the way to shoes. Then walk around the house, come back in, and pretend you’ve just arrived at work. 

This one isn’t original to me. The FlyLady made it into an art – she was a huge inspiration when I was a young mother working from home, and the above advice worked many, many times for me. 

3. Do something active you have been putting off. 

Not the sedentary thing – like me needing to do the taxes. Something that will get you up and moving and the blood pumping. Then, you can use the sedentary thing as a reward to sit and rest a bit. For me, the active thing is dishes, more often than not. Or weeding, in season (which also works because I love working in the garden). 

4. Listen to happy upbeat music that gets you bouncing. 

I have entire playlists I’ve curated for this, although they change according to mood. But especially for tasks that I find boring, music helps. And has the side benefit of kicking the muse into gear, if it’s just right. 

5. Set a timer.

Fifteen minutes isn’t very long. Make yourself do whatever that thing is that you are dreading. Then, set it again and do something you want to do. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you’d rather, try it the FlyLady way, three fifteen minute sections of work, and one of break time. 

6. Make a list. 

I know, I know, it’s so obvious and trite. But have you? And have you broken the big complex tasks into bite-sized line items you can tick off? That warm glow of accomplishment when you can line something out will move you more than you think. 

7. Take a walk 

This is a little more than the quick spin around the house (or out to the mailbox and back) that I recommended above. Sometimes a nice quiet walk will help reset your attitude (in good weather, of course!) and then when you get back you’ll be ready for whatever that thing is. 

8. Start at the Door. 

Then work your way around the room, before hitting the center (most of us have less in the middle). I don’t remember where I picked up this technique, but it really helps when the mess has gotten overwhelming. And break it up with that timer, choose smaller areas (top of the table, one chair full of books, etc) to concentrate on, rather than trying to do the whole room at once. I don’t know about you, but when I am looking at needing to clean the entire darn house, sometimes it’s just too much and I’m tempted to curl up with a book and pretend it doesn’t exist. 

Wait, you might be asking, this is all about housework. No, not really. I use a lot of the same techniques when I am writing a novel. Step 3? that’s me writing a scene I have in my head, even if it’s not what comes next in the plot. Starting at the door? Great way to envision your character’s surroundings when you need to be more descriptive (I suck at description. Either too much, or too little). Getting dressed? Well, yeah, you can write in your jammies. I do, all the time. But when I’m sitting here staring at a blank scene, sometimes I need to move around and that shower tends to jog my brain until something falls out of it. And it’s not just a novel, or cleaning the house. These steps can be applied to almost anything you are putting off. Plus, if you do clean the house, you’ll feel calmer and happier and will at least have something to show for it. Channel the motivation!