Self Care February 5, 2020

How to deal with lack of motivation

Karen @keyserfaty

I've been posting on IH every day since I started my journey of building https://palabra.io. The past 2 weeks have been hard, I haven't felt the motivation I felt for the past 6 months but since I'm feeling much better now I decided I could share the things I've done to get back to working on the project:

  • Working on tasks I enjoy. For me, that's improving code and writing tests. It's the kind of thing I wouldn't do in my normal mood because it feels like a "waste" (it's not, I know). So doing this kind of thing when I'm feeling down usually helps me.

  • Talking to users. I haven't done this one very much tbh but every time I do I leave the conversation wanting to jump into the project.

  • Talking about my project with anyone. Since I usually find it embarrassing to say I haven't been working on the project for a couple of days/weeks talking about it with other people makes me want to go back to work.

  • Scheduling meetings even if I don't feel like going. Once again embarrassment to the rescue. Since I don't like skipping meetings scheduling them even if I don't feel like going usually helps because once it's on the calendar I feel the need to show up. For me, these were meetings to discuss the product with people I don't know.

  • Doing exercise and eating well. This one is a bit different from the rest but I had to add it to the list because I feel it has been of vital importance to me. When I spend a lot of time not doing these 2 I usually don't feel like doing anything. So doing exercise feels like getting back on track for me.

Hope it helps someone else and would love to hear what things you do when you feel the same.

🖖

  1. 6

    The trick I use to raise my morale after a defeat or period of stagnation is to set a really small and achievable goal to give myself a small and immediate win. Then I do it again, with another really small goal.

    Once I get a few of these in with incremental increases in difficultly, I get the confidence and motivation to attack again those goals which I was stuck at before with renewed vigor and perspective.

    1. 2

      I remembered this comment, because indeed at the time I was experiencing high levels of exhaustion and motivation to invest even more time at something that would further drain my energy was lacking. So I set up a bunch of small tasks to do and I saw them being done one by one and it gave the much required boost of morale. I had incredible luck that although some of them were very short but hard, I managed to solve them on first tries. It felt amazing to see the progress. So thanks for this and getting the advice stuck in my brain. :)

    2. 1

      I also use this one. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 1

    For me the thing that works best is setting a deadline. Sometimes I go over it and most of the times I procrastinate a lot until I get close to the deadline, but that's fine as long as I finally manage to get the work done.

    Don't beat yourself too much, I realized that life is a lot more than work and we are not robots. My current work schedule is really weird and keeps changing, but now I work pretty intense one day and then take a day or two off. I know that I could achieve a lot more and finish my projects faster if I worked every day, but then I will get burned out and I might never actually finish the projects. Late is better than never.

  3. 1

    Thanks for sharing, great collection of advices. :)
    Maybe exactly what I needed.

  4. 1

    Thanks for sharing. It's tough to have motivation every single day. I think it's natural to have highs and lows, ebbs and flows.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the "embarrassment" stuff. I look at it as extrinsic motivation. We're wired to be social creatures who care about our reputations and our obligations to others, so it's an amazing force to leverage for motivation.

    @channingallen has all sorts of fancy productivity systems set up for himself, but I always remind him: billions of people get up and go to work for 8+ hours a day, not because they've got some clever systems worked out, but because they simply don't want to let down their bosses and coworkers.

    Extrinsic motivation + working on things you like is great fuel to keep going.

    1. 1

      That's very clever, never thought about 9 to 5 work that way before. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. 1

    Hey Karen,
    very good points. I was just wondering today where your daily updates are 😅
    Good to hear you are back at it! Especially the point about doing some work even if you think its not important will add over time. It's the little steps every day.

    Keep at it!