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24 Comments

Staying motivated

This might be a stupid question, but what techniques do you guys use to stay focused and motivated, and to make sure that the needle keeps moving each day?

  1. 6

    I've come to conclusion that the best way to stay motivated is to have some form of traction: Revenue, new sign-ups, constant feedback & feature requests from users, etc.

    1. 1

      I agree, Soheil, but may I also provide a counter-point?

      If traction/revenue comes too easy, you tend to grow complacent.

      You start to take your foot off the gas pedal, you start to browse for stuff you want on Amazon, you fire up Expedia to look for travel destinations to reward yourself, etc., and then you lose momentum.

      It's vital to be self-aware of this if/when it's happening.

  2. 3

    Write down every single success that you've had, every feature implemented, cold email written etc.

    Then whenever you are not motivated, look at the list and what is already behind you.

    It's like climbing a mountain. When you closer to the peak, the rest will seem easy compared to the previous ascend.

    1. 1

      Oh, this isn't such a bad idea.

  3. 3

    I have worked on trying to solve this problem for myself and over time I learned that for me at least, approaching this from a perspective of "what to do when motivation slips" works better for me.

    I was so focused on finding ways to stay motivated that I realized it takes less energy and brain time to recognize when I'm losing motivation as I know the rest of the time I will be motivated. I hope that makes sense?

    So what I do when I noticed that my motivation is starting to slip on a project or anything for that matter, is I step back from it until I feel the desire to jump back on it. Now, this only works for me because I have enough projects that I can jump track without stalling. Also because I know from doing this for so long that my motivation will return at some point, I just have to be patient.

    I get that this is kind of the opposite, but for me, it worked out better than fighting my drop in interest and eventually walking away from a project completely.

    1. 1

      I have a similar strategy Peter, but for a slight different goal. I'm control-freak mixed with productivity-obsession personality which quite often means a lot of noise instead of actual meaningful and smart work done.

      Stepping back and giving me space to sink into some ideas - or sometimes no ideas at all - is usually the best tactic to understand what do next to actually move things forward, instead of doing things for the sake of feeling a false sense of productivity.

      1. 1

        @leticiasouza I can relate to the noise, I struggle to figure out what I should just let drop off the radar and ignore sometimes. But I feel I'm winning my productivity micromanagement by just being too darn busy :)

        1. 1

          We never know what are the compounding effect of the small actions that we make everyday in our longer term projects...

    2. 1

      This is a great point. Another thing you can do is try to determine if there are certain things that make you feel demotivated, and manage those. I just realised, that for me, it's much easier to feel demotivated when I'm tired. So I try to work on my SaaS in the mornings when I'm fresh. I get up early so I have more time to do it, and then I go take the kids and the dog to the park in the afternoon.

      Trying to push through afternoon demotivation makes me feel worse, because I don't get much done and then start on a downward spiral. Better to stop early and do something else.

      1. 1

        @ceebecee I am glad you mentioned tiredness, it can creep into the Brain without us noticing and start influencing us. Working on the deep work in the mornings is a great idea if you can do it.
        For me, it works the opposite (which is why I'm writing at 1.30 am lol). If I could just work overnight I'd be so much more productive. Trying to fit into regular day hours for everyone else's benefit can be a challenge once I hit the tiredness or burnout wall.

  4. 3

    Pick a huge problem to solve. Tackle it day by day.

    For me I want to "Empower anyone to build for the web".

    I hate slow page speeds, developers recreating the wheel, marketers can't do what they want. I want to fix all of it.

    That drives me massively.

    Everyday I make a little progress towards that goal.

  5. 2

    I think that the most important is to be honest with yourself about who you want to be and what you want to achieve. Nowadays it is very easy to be persuaded by a video, by an article, by a lifestyle, by an instagram life. Sometimes the noises are extremely persuasive!

    But what's inside your heart? It doesn't matter if you want to be a millionaire or if you want to be free or if you want to be a philanthropist. You must try to know who you really are and who you really want to be, say no to the noise, follow the signal and have faith on the way.

    This is the most effective way I know to stay motivated and focused!

    I hope it helped you!

  6. 2

    I try to keep in mind that I'm in it for the long game, not playing short games. This helps me stay motivated and allows me for taking breathers whenever I need to.

  7. 2

    I can’t remember where I heard this, but it has always stuck with me.

    Motivation is not something you can strive for. It’s the byproduct of something else that you CAN strive for.

    Specifically, motivation is often the byproduct of discipline. You can practice discipline, but you can’t practice motivation. So, my advice would be to find ways to stay disciplined. For me that looks like creating habits. Habits can be done even when you don’t feel motivated. Do them enough and the motivation returns.

  8. 2

    Find someone who is also working towards the same goal. Having an accountability partner will act as a forcing function and help you get back when you are down.

  9. 2

    It can really depend on your unique situation. But generally, here are some things I do that I find quite helpful:

    1. Make it really easy to start
    • When you wrap your current day, before signing off, write the next 2 or 3 things you will do when you resume work the next session. These should be concrete and actionable not "build onboarding". If you're mid debugging something for example, write a complete context dump.
    • I often setup my workstation ready for work the night before. Setup my desktop to have everything I need to start working immediately. Close old tabs, unused applications and in their place: terminal, todo list, and servers.
    • Plan your day in advance, I do down to the half hour. This is especially good because your present self is generally more aspirational about your future self. Trying to plan in the moment can be wasteful. Just one more thing to avoid.
    1. Reduce distractions
    • Put phone out of sight on do not disturb.
    • Shut off all notifications while working, no messenger dings, slack, email notifs, etc.
    • Using a timer can be helpful when you're really hopeless
    • Have dedicated working hours. Working earlier in the morning can be very helpful depending your stage of life, there's no one up, no inbound communications, nothing to do but work. I do 5am and do not open email or phone until 8am.
    1. Just start for a few minutes, preferably on something easy.
    • The hardest part is starting to work, but its trivial to commit to 5min. Just tell yourself you're going to do the simplest thing for just a few minutes. If there's a piece of an article you're writing you consider easy, start there. If there's a component you know you can write, code that. After 5 minutes it's quite unlikely you'll want to stop. It sounds so silly but it's very effective. Many productivity coaches offer this advice in one way or another.
    1. Health
    • Sleep 7h+
    • Drink lots of water.
    • Work out. Working out is the process of choosing short term pain for long term gain 100s of reps per session. It's a self discipline bootcamp. The testosterone, endorphins, and energy helps too.

    There are more fundamental things you can do around motivation like asking yourself what your principles or values and how what you're doing connects with those. It's important to do this. However, my experience is that no matter how clear and consistent you are with these things, discipline –the ability to do things when you dont feel like it– is always required to fight through fatigue, boredom, and laziness.

    Good luck.

    1. 2

      great framework indeed. Mainly on the first step -> motion creates motion, so once you start it's easier to carry the momentum.

    2. 2

      Hey tofu, great list.
      However, I'd say combining discipline with systems can help with consistency as well 😉

      1. 2

        👋 what ya mean by systems, got any examples?

        1. 3

          Sure. When I say systems I think of habits/practices stacked together. E.g I use Notion a lot and have been meaning to track my finances better in there, so I've now created a system to do just that by:

          1. Downloading a database/ expenses tracker by a Youtuber called Red Gregory

          2. Making it easy for me to log all expenses as and when they happen by logging the expense straight away. I can do this by clicking on the relevant date in my calendar and creating a new entry titled '£44 Expense- Groceries' for example.

          3. Then every week I will log and review all expenses for the week in the database/ expenses tracker for me to look over in my weekly review.

          4 Then at the end of the month in my monthly review. I'll look over all spending I've done for the month to see if I should be making any changes to my spending habits.

          Hope that all makes sense 😊

          1. 2

            Gotcha, thanks. That expense tracker integration with a calendar is pretty clever.

  10. 2

    It's a question that I struggle with too sometimes, and I think for me, it boils down to goals.

    If I have too many things going on, then I make negligible movement on any task on any given day (or even in a few days).

    But if I set a concrete goal/task/objective and avoid splitting my time too much, I'm fairly motivated to see that through because I get to see the progress.

  11. 1

    This might sound negative, but I simply go to r/antiwork and see all the bullshit of corporate world that will be awaiting me if I fuck up my profitable startup that I have now.

    Pain avoidance is almost always a more effective motivator than reward acquisition.

  12. 1

    Personally, getting small wins is motivating as it shows progress.

    For instance, small wins for me are winning sales, getting leads, speaking at events/podcasts, validation of a new product, meeting great people, etc.

    What's a small win for you?

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