I get it. You dropped your motivation in the parking lot two weeks ago, it snowed over, and even after the snow melted, you still can’t find it. Motivation has been a topic permeating many of my recent conversations. No one has any, and we all want just a little. It’s like a pie. Everyone just wants one slice, but no one gets any because the pie was stolen. Okay, I’ll stop making weird metaphors. Just understand that you are not alone; everyone feels tired and drained. There are a few reasons for this: midterms, no vacation until after halfway through the semester, Covid, really anything you can think of. Now it makes perfect sense why I am featuring motivation and hopefully sparking a small flame of it inside of you. While I hope that the flame grows into an intense fire that can’t be tamed, I understand that this is an unrealistic expectation for many students. Just a little candlelight will do for now.
Speaking of candles, they are incredible for creating an environment to fit your needs. None of the housing accommodations on Hope’s campus allow for real candles, but we can work around that—videos of candles, wax warmers and salt lamps all have incredible benefits without the risk. A big part of feeling motivated and ready to tackle school is giving your body and soul the rest that they need. Swapping out a phone screen for a dim lamp and book can help to adjust sleep patterns, help your body heal faster when you are asleep, and ultimately lead to a more productive day. This type of light can also help to create an ideal environment for accomplishing tasks. By this point in the semester, most of us have gotten too relaxed about where we do homework. I personally find myself in bed and on my computer more than I would like. An easy and simple way to combat this is to make a peaceful and organized workspace and condition yourself to only work while there. This will increase productivity and let you “keep work at work.”
The next tip I have for you is to decrease your to-do list. I know it sounds crazy that doing fewer things will increase motivation, but it really does work. Bite-sized chunks are what we are looking for here. It is much easier to do this by organizing tasks from most critical to least critical, and then going from there. Maybe you need to accomplish all of them today, so go one task at a time and break in between. Maybe this means you accomplish more household tasks than school tasks on a given day, even if that looks like folding laundry that has been in the basket for two weeks. No task is too small, and you can always spend five minutes doing anything. Focus on what you have done rather than what you haven’t done, and you may find that it boosts your mood just enough to accomplish the next thing.
One thing that helps me a lot is to create “procrastination tasks.” I know this sounds like an oxymoron but it really helps sometimes. If you trick yourself into thinking that something is procrastination, then you will actually be accomplishing something by procrastinating. Let me use this specific article as an example. Right now I am procrastinating writing a five-page research paper by writing an article. I am still accomplishing something, but it is not as big in comparison so it feels much easier. Our brains are funny things in that they are easy to trick if you know how to.
Finally, take up a new habit—a positive one. If you can create a positive habit of something small, it may open doors to bigger things. For example, I like to make my bed each day, but sometimes I don’t get around to it until 2 or 3 and by then it seems fairly useless, except for the satisfaction that it brings me. I’ve recently set myself a goal to make my bed before 10 a.m. every day, and it is actually going very well. When I make my bed I usually tidy the area around it as well, which then leads to tidying my entire cardboard box of a room. Make a habit, try to stick to it and don’t get discouraged if you forget one day. Whether it is drinking water or making your bed, you will get a sense of accomplishment which will, in turn, help you to complete more tasks.
I hope that you will take what I have learned and apply it to your own life, but even if you don’t, I believe that we can all self-motivate ourselves just enough to get a little flame of inspiration. From that, it is just a hop skip and a jump to being the next Bill Gates. Well, maybe not, but you might actually fold your laundry. And that, I know, will make your mom proud.