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When You Don’t Know How to Find Motivation to Finish a Task

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

When we are kids, we have a rather romantic view of how adulthood would be – all candy up for grabs and zero chores! Then, they grow up and it is nothing like that. Adulthood is all about responsibility and time management. There are bills to take care of and a career to worry about. All this stress can lead to phases when you just do not want to work anymore. So how do you find that bit of motivation needed to finish a task? In this blog post, we will try to find out.

Check Your Emotions

Many people say that being human is all about having emotions. This might not be entirely true as plenty other animals also seem to respond to things around them with emotions. What really makes us unique is our ability to let these emotions get the best of us, irrespective of its repercussions. There are so many things in life that we leave hanging simply because we did not feel like doing them. This is an emotional response because there is hardly anything physical preventing us from doing something.

It is all up to us, whether we choose to indulge in the negative thoughts and demotivating emotions or learn to beat them. One thing that can help you overcome your emotions is meditation. You might be surprised by its power and how successfully it can help you can clear yourself of the mental barriers. Remember that there are a lot of things that can go wrong at your workplace. You might be having an office nightmare. However, if you do not let the negativity get the best of you then you should be fine.

Learn to Bribe Yourself

What stops most adults from doing something that is to be done? The hundreds of other things that they would rather be doing, seeing or spending their time and money on. One great challenge in life is to be able to balance our indulgences with our responsibilities. However, indulging yourself in a well-structured way might turn out to be a great motivator. Think of it as a small bribe to help you get something done. You can refer to this as temptation bundling – a way to train yourself to remain productive while you are working towards a small reward. You can refer to this as temptation bundling – a way to train yourself to remain productive while you are working towards a small reward.

You will have to decide what bribe will work best for you. Maybe you put one dollar in a jar after you complete a milestone and reward yourself with a much larger purchase by the end of the month. Maybe you reward yourself with a nice treat when you complete all tasks before a certain deadline for the week. This can be a great way for you to keep your eyes on the prize.

Have a Strategy in Place

With a deadline growing uncomfortably near and an irate client growing in impatience, the last thing you want are thoughts like “hmm, I think I should go to the gym more often this month.”

Just imagine the level of guilt, stress and frustration that will get off your shoulders if you could somehow find the energy and concentration to finish a pending task. Not to forget the level of happiness and relief you would feel. If you have the right strategy in place, you will not have to put things off, ever again! Your strategy will need to have its roots in the reason that made you stop wanting to complete a task in the first place. Here are a few strategies that you might find useful:

  1. Adopting a Preventive Focus. You might be putting off something just because you are afraid that you might screw it up. There are basically two ways to look at any task. You might want to do something just because it stands as an achievement or an accomplishment for you. You might be thinking that if you do a certain task successfully, you will be able to impress your boss. Psychologists know this as the Promotion Focus. When you have a promotion focus, you tend to be more motivated by the idea of making gains, encouraging you to work your best because of the optimism. However, on the other side, if you are afraid of screwing up the tasks, then chances are that this focus will make you feel worse. Your promotion motivation can be undermined by your anxiety and doubt, leaving you less likely to take up the challenge. What you really need to do is diminish this doubt. With Prevention Focus, you tend to hang on to the things that you already have instead of thinking about how you can be better off. Being prevention-focused means that you are focused on successfully completing a project because you do not want your boss to get angry or think less of you. Prevention motivation is actually triggered by the anxiety of things that might go wrong. When you are faced with the challenge of avoiding loss, the only sure fire way to get out of danger is to take real actions, immediately. The more worried you are, the faster you will try to get out of the bad situation. Do you suffer from shyness at workplace? Make sure you read this blog post.
  2. Totally Ignore Your Feelings. I know I have already touched on this earlier, but it is very important to be emphasised on. You might simply be putting off something just because you do not “feel” like doing it. You really need to get rid of these feelings as they are probably just getting in your way. The reality is that no one is trying to make life difficult for you. Nobody is holding you down, stopping you from doing your work. Stop waiting for the moment when you will feel like doing something and take actions proactively. We all have established this idea in the back of our heads that we need to “feel” like we want to take actions before we can be fully motivated and effective in doing the tasks to completion. While you a little motivation will make it a breeze to complete your pending work, you should have the energy and control to be able to complete tasks within the timelines committed. In fact, if you look at some of the most prolific innovators, artists and writers, you will see a trend that all of them have always relied on regular work routines, forcing them to work for certain hours each day, irrespective of how they felt. Inspiration is usually for amateurs – the rest of us just have to get up and get to work.
  3. Use “If-Then” Planning. Sometimes, you are putting something off because it is unpleasant, hard or boring. You might be thinking that next time around, you will start such tasks sooner. The reality is that if we actually possessed the willpower, we would have never put it off like that in the first place. According to studies, most of the people overestimate their own capacity for self-control, relying on it blindly to keep them out of hot water. Stop fooling yourself and realize that your willpower is limited and will eventually exhaust. Your willpower may not always be up to the task of getting to complete things that are tedious and difficult. Instead, you should use “If-Then” planning in which you decide the specific steps needed to complete certain project and decide where and when to take these steps. If it is 3pm then I will stop whatever I am doing and start work on John’s report. If my boss does not talk about my salary raise in the next meeting then I will bring it up before the end of the meeting. Deciding a plan in advance on what you will do and when and where you will do it will save you from any deliberating when the time comes. Our willpower comes under question to make tough choices when we have to deliberate. With the help of if-then plans, much less is demanded from your willpower, ensuring that you have made the right decision well in advance.

Following these above strategies should seriously help you in finishing unwanted tasks that have their deadlines fast approaching. Above all, keep yourself happy and know that worrying about tasks or avoiding them will only make matters worse. Take challenges positively and anticipate completing tasks well in advance of the ultimate deadlines. Do you have any strategies and suggestions of your own? How do you make sure the boring, tough tasks are completed in time? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Are you finding completing tasks particularly difficult after a vacation? You should read this fantastic blog post on How You Can Motivate Yourself Back at Work. You will also find this blog on Motivation Techniques for Project Managers very useful.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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