9 Ways to Get Motivated and Do That Boring Thing

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You know that thing that’s been popping up on your to-do list for way too long? And now it just irritates you every time you see it? Or that mammoth task that is just overwhelming and soul-crushingly boring that even if you did know where to start, you just don’t want to? It can be so hard to get motivated and get these things off your list.

Sometimes it’s something so simple and menial that it just never reaches the top of your priority list. An example might be cleaning out the pantry. Or it might be something that’s just too complex and time-consuming that you just can’t find the time to get into it.  A uni assignment or a report for work might fall into this category.

Either way, it’s slowly nibbling away at your happiness – or maybe it’s taking huge greedy gulps – so let’s just deal with it and let you get on with the good stuff in life.

Here are nine ways to get motivated and just get it done:

Stick a note somewhere prominent

Do you find yourself just forgetting the task because other things are more important or more fun? Then stick a big fat reminder on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, on the front door, or on your hand. Every time you get distracted or start to procrastinate, you’ll remember what it is you’re supposed to be doing. And you’ll have a sense of satisfaction when it’s done and you can tear down that annoying note!

Visualise finishing the task

Whenever I submitted a uni assignment I would feel a crazy wave of relief that it was over, and excitement that I could now move on to something else. Despite often spending waaaaay too many hours sitting at my desk and way too few hours sleeping as I approached a deadline, I would be filled with energy after submitting the assignment. So when I was feeling stuck or unmotivated, I would try to visualise hitting the submit button and feeling that awesome rush. It was often enough to push me to keep working.

Think about WHY you must do it

Using the example of a uni assignment again, I’d often feel resentful because the topic wasn’t interesting or the assignment seemed pointless. So I’d remind myself of the big picture. I was completing a degree that was important to me because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people. That assignment, however boring, was contributing to my overall degree. Using the example of a menial task around the house, I think about how having a clean and organised home makes me feel happy and helps my family to function easier. Thinking about the big picture can often help you to either appreciate the importance of the task, or at least just grit your teeth and get it done.

Set a timer

We often overestimate how long something boring or difficult is going to take. I sometimes think I don’t have time to empty the dishwasher, but in reality, it only takes me two minutes if I stay focused on it. I know this because I can empty the whole load in the time it takes my oats to cook in the microwave! It’s when we get distracted (hello Facebook) or start procrastinating that these tasks take forever.

See how much you can get done in 15 minutes and allow yourself to stop once the timer goes off if you feel like it. You’ll often find that once you get started it’s easier to just keep going, but even if you stop after the 15 minutes, you will have achieved so much more than if you hadn’t focused for that time.

Even if it’s a huge task and you know it will take hours, setting a timer can help keep you focused and get more done. One of my favourite tools for staying focused is the Pomodoro technique. This is where you work on the task for 25 minutes, and then have a 5-minute break, then work for 25 minutes, then another 5-minute break. During the 25-minute focus zone, whenever I think of something else I want to do, I just jot it down and then do it during the 5-minute break. You can have a CRAZY productive day working like this.

Break it up

If, like me, you love the satisfaction of crossing things off lists, then break the task up into smaller chunks and write them on a list. As you do each part you can cross it off and see that you’re making progress. Or if lists don’t excite you, you can at least make progress on the task in smaller chunks, so you don’t feel like it’s taking up all of your day.

Reward yourself

Plan a nice reward for yourself once the task is done. It might be a relaxing soak in the tub with a book, or a night out with the girls to celebrate. Whatever you choose, it should be something that you don’t normally do and something that you’re not going to indulge in before the task is done.

Pair it up with something enjoyable.

Having time to listen to a podcast uninterrupted is a very rare treat for me these days, so if I have stuff around the house that needs doing, I find it’s actually more enjoyable if I can listen to a podcast at the same time. For something like an assignment or a work report, try doing it in a different environment like a café or by the lake.

Set a deadline

Tell yourself that by 5pm Friday this task is no longer going to be haunting you. Even if the task already has a set deadline (like a uni assignment for example), bring that time forward so you can get it done sooner and move on to something else.

Think about what’s stopping you

Is it that you don’t understand the content or process? Or you don’t have the right equipment? Are you afraid of failing? Are you worried about how long it will take? Is your environment dragging you down? Work out what it is that’s making this task so unappealing, and see if you can find a way to address that.

Get in touch

Feel free to comment on this post or contact me about which boring or difficult tasks you’re struggling with. Or let me know other tricks you use to motivate yourself. And then… just get that thing done and move on with your life!

If you need some more targeted and individualised support with getting – and staying – motivated, consider hiring a coach to help you.

From ordinary to excellent – it doesn’t take much.

I’m a big fan of just getting something done without obsessing over getting it perfect. But I’m also a big fan of striving for excellence wherever possible. Contradictory? Maybe… But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t take much to just do a little better. So my philosophy is “get it done, then do a little better”.

This week we had new flooring laid in our house. The job involved jackhammering to remove the old tiles, then we had vinyl planks laid in part of the house and carpet in the other part. We were told to remove all our furniture out (obviously), and we also decided to remove anything from the benches and walls because we expected some dust from the jackhammering. I didn’t think it would be necessary to empty the cupboards or anything though.

We left the house for a week to stay out of their way, and I was really looking forward to getting home and seeing the end result. But all we could see when we walked in was a thick layer of dust over everything (including the new floor), and the carpet was covered in billions of loose fibers. Even inside the cupboards everything was covered in thick dust. There was also blood on several walls where one of the workers had obviously cut themselves. The cleanup took dozens of hours just so we could get the place functional, and will continue for weeks as we make our way through the cupboards and their contents.

Once the main cleaning was done the new floors looked great, but any happiness I could have felt about them was washed down the drain with the billionth load of grimy water.

Now my point is, the flooring company we dealt with could have done any of a number of small things to make this a positive experience for us. They could, at the very least, have set our expectations so that we would not be shocked by the mess and we could have prepared better. But they also could have used protective sheeting over the cupboards, cleaned the floors so that their own product looked good, or even offered a cleaning service for an additional cost. It wouldn’t have taken much for us to be rapt with the result, but instead we were hugely disappointed and will certainly not use the same company when it comes to doing the other half of the house!

We also bought a new car this week (it’s been a very expensive week)! We bought the car off the same dealer who sold us a car a couple of years ago. We remembered he was great to deal with, no bullshit, no sneaky sales tactics, and not at all slimy, so we were keen to deal with him again. Between my husband’s initial enquiry a couple of weeks ago, and our visit to the dealership to place the order, the dealer had obviously looked up our previous sale and refreshed his memory on our details, so as we were walking through the car yard and he was assisting some other customers, he acknowledged us both by name. This was such a tiny detail, but he had made the effort and I appreciated his attention to detail and his friendly service. We will definitely continue to deal with that dealership as long as this salesperson works there, because he takes those tiny steps to ensure we have a great experience whenever we deal with him.

It really doesn’t take much to take something from ordinary to excellent. The two examples I’ve given here are both related to customer service, but this applies to anything in your life. What is something you think you could be taken from ordinary to excellent with a tiny adjustment?

Stop overthinking it!

Is there something in your life that you overthink and it holds you back from happiness or success?

I overthink gifts. While I love to give good gifts, I get myself so worked up and anxious over buying gifts that it has become something I dread. I want to make sure the gift is useful, good quality, will be loved by the receiver, doesn’t seem too cheap, etc. But I manage to talk myself out of every gift idea I see, and in the end I’ve run out of time and energy and I end up buying something completely crappy and thoughtless, and being embarrassed to give it!

My friend overthinks her relationships. Hasn’t heard from her new partner in 5 hours? Maybe he’s not really into her… maybe he’s changed his mind… maybe he’s dating other people and keeping his options open… She gets so worried and worked up over what might be going on, and that worry is dragging down whatever possible happiness she could be experiencing in a new relationship.

And don’t even get me started on all the things my husband overthinks!

What is it in your life that you overthink, and how do you tackle it?

Here are 5 ways to stop overthinking:

Be aware of your trouble-areas for overthinking

Becoming aware of the problem is the first step to dealing with it.

Plan for it

For example, I need to brainstorm gift ideas before heading to the shops for inspiration. Wherever possible I need to try and have a specific plan before going to the shops. My friend might plan to not contact her partner until a certain time (say, 6 hours away) unless she hears from him first, and in the meantime, she could focus on some positive, funny, loving things that she might tell him when she does talk to him. This could distract her from thinking of all the negative reasons she hasn’t heard from him yet.

What else could you be doing?

Consciously ask yourself: “If I were to just stop over-thinking this issue, what else could I be doing at the moment?” Rather than spending another four hours wandering the shops, I could be sitting down enjoying a coffee. Rather than stressing about her boyfriend’s lack of contact, my friend could be using the time to do something she enjoys.

Give yourself a time limit.

Allow yourself to think about it for a certain amount of time, and then force yourself to move on to something else. For example, I might only give myself 4 hours total to find a gift. I know as I’m approaching the deadline that I have to just pick something, even if I don’t think it’s 100% perfect. It’s probably still better than the piece of crap I’ll buy after sixteen hours of shopping on an empty stomach.

Consider the future impact.

As much as I want to find the perfect gift, if I’m a little off target and the receiver doesn’t love it, the world is not going to end. If my friend continues to get herself worked up she runs the risk of seeming like a crazy lady to her new boyfriend, and she’s really not that crazy so it would be unfortunate to scare him off unnecessarily!

This is not a comprehensive list of ways to stop overthinking… You see, I spent a long time thinking about this post before I decided to just get it down and move on.

Help me out here… what are some ways YOU stop yourself from overthinking something? Leave me a note in the comments.