Oftentimes, it’s not enough to have a goal.
If the goal is challenging, you will need motivational methods that are personally effective for you, in order to focus and do the task no matter how "hard" it feels.
Below, I describe the methods that have worked best for me and my clients.
As you read this post, I invite you to score each method on a scale of 0 to 10. (Zero means “This absolutely won’t work for me” and 10 means “This is the answer to my productivity!”)
If you'd like, comment at the bottom of the post with your score for each of these, and most importantly, commit to using the method that works best for you.
Use your method everyday that you have an important project.
Here are the 7 methods:
::: ONE ::: Connecting to the Big Picture
You love dreaming about what is possible. You love seeing the bigger picture of your work and life.
If you are faced with an action step that is intimidating for you, or isn't motivating, then it's time for you to connect that action step to a bigger "why".
If you keep taking the steps needed, what good things will happen in your life as a result? Whom will it help? What does it create in the world?
Take a moment now to connect the next action to the bigger vision.
For those who enjoy mental visualization:
Can you imagine a movie scene in your mind that gives you the details of what the completed project looks like? And how is it helping others? What is it doing for you in your life or work?
Also, what is the spirit or attitude you want to embody as you take the steps on the way there? For example, see yourself in the action of doing this project with joy and grace.
If you aren't good at visualization, I encourage you to take 3 minutes to write about your bigger vision.
Some people even find it helpful to record it as a self-hypnosis.
::: TWO ::: Accountability Partner
Get an accountability partner to check-in about the project, daily or weekly.
Research has shown that when you write down your goals and your action commitments, and then share it with an Accountability Partner, and then report back to your partner, the average increase in productivity is 77%. Check out the research here.
An accountability partner could be:
Meet once a week for 15-30 minutes. Or when something is really important, you might even meet more often than that. The accountability can go both ways -- each person reports on their project.
A simple format for accountability meetings:
You could even consider having multiple accountability partners, if each person can only meet with you once a month or once a week, and you want accountability more often.
IMPORTANT -- After the call, send your action commitment to your accountability partner. Expect them to send theirs (if they are also needing accountability from you.) Again, research shows that by doing this, people accomplish 77% more.
If you really cannot schedule a time with your accountability partner… you can have accountability by privately messaging your partner each week.
::: THREE ::: Co-Working
25 minute segments seem to work well.
We meet over Skype, Zoom or Appear.in.
We shut off distractions.
Everybody writes down what they will do that session. And in what spirit/attitude.
We set a timer so everyone can see it (the host of the meeting will share their screen). Try Tomato-Timer.com (it's free)
It is magical… it works!
To find some co-working buddies, ask your friends or colleagues. Or better yet, join FocusMate (I'm there every week!)
::: FOUR ::: Create a Public Event, Promising A Deliverable
There's no accountability like public accountability.
In this method, you create a public announcement giving a specific deadline for when you'll complete something.
Then it's up to you to complete it by the deadline, so you don't embarrass yourself! :)
This method is not for everybody, but it has worked extraordinarily well for me. This is the method I would credit for helping me write my first book, create the various workshops I do, and many other accomplishments in my business over the years.
Here's how it works:
Publicly announce what you'll be doing, and by when. You can announce this on Facebook or via email to your audience (or just to 5-10 of your friends/colleagues.)
If you'd like, ask people to keep you accountable. And if you'd like, let them know you'll be sharing your progress along the way.
One tool to do this easily is Facebook Events -- on that page you'll find the "create event" button on the left side. Create an event there, with the date/time being your deadline for accomplishing the project. Invite your friends and ask for their support. Then along the way, post on that event page with your progress.
This can work really well if you are creating content for an online course, a webinar, a presentation, a book, or simply a page on your website.
Announce something you believe is doable, but a bit of a stretch. Not something that will stress you out, but will feel challenging to you in a good way.
::: FIVE ::: Keep Chunking It Down
When I find myself procrastinating, I do this:
Write down what is the thing I’m trying to accomplish.
Write down each of the baby steps -- very doable action steps.
If any step feels daunting, chunk that down into even more granular steps.
When I look at the list of steps and think "Oh I can definitely do this, if I just follow the steps" then I know I've chunked it down enough to make it doable.
And then I get started right away on the first step. Even if I only have time to do that first step, it will start the process in my mind, to work on that project subconsciously even when I step away to go do other things.
To take this method even further, try setting a deadline for the various action steps on your list.
::: SIX ::: Schedule Time To Work On Project
This method works really well for me.
I have learned the art of setting appointments with myself.
Remember: You are your most important client. Learn how to keep appointments with yourself. You can practice being creative on demand.
::: SEVEN ::: Plan a Project Day or Week (Personal Retreat)
Do you find yourself constantly unable to do your deep work, due to the demands of family, friends, colleagues?
Then try this:
Book an AirBNB nearby for 1-3 days to work on your important project, the project that won't just happen by itself -- writing your book, re-writing your website, creating your workshop, filming your online course.
If you feel distracted by social media, you might even ask your Host to turn off the internet for one or more of the days you're there... or to be sure NOT to give you the password. (Ask them in advance if this is possible.)
Even just 1 day away to work on your projects can be very helpful. For that day you're not in an environment with the typical triggers that distract and redirect you. Try it out!
Your turn -- comment below on which method you're excited to try... or if you already know what works best for you, let us know. Also feel free to comment with any questions, or if you have another method that has motivated you to do challenging but important projects.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
For George's most recent writings, visit his Medium.com profile.
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