Five Ways to Stay Motivated

Friday, 30 September 2016

Find Your Rhythm

It can be tempting to equate productivity with endless hours strapped to our computers or locked in our studios, especially when deadlines are looming. But humans run on circadian rhythms, which means our energy, concentration and creativity naturally fluctuates over 24 hours. We manage our time better, set clearer goals, procrastinate less and guard against burnout when we structure our working lives around set periods of focused work followed by short, rejuvenating breaks – preferably involving physical activity or least a complete change of mood. Phoning a friend, savouring lunch in the sun or luxuriating in some yoga stretches could all fit the bill. Checking emails or switching freelance projects most definitely couldn’t.  Many people swear by 90 minutes of distraction-free work followed by a 20-30 minute break. Others opt for the Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25 minutes’ work and a five-minute break, repeated four times, followed by a 15-30 minute break. Find a ratio that works for you.

Set Regular Goals

Working in short, sharp bursts like this necessitates clear, achievable goals for each period of productivity that we knuckle down to. And that’s a great thing, because many people’s ‘to-do’ lists are unrealistically long and aspirational and thus doomed to failure, which is completely demotivating. Clear goals set us up for success by forcing us to prioritise our activities and break down big, overwhelming projects into smaller, achievable feats. Throwing in some ambitious long-term goals to chip away at over time is another great way to keep things fresh and inspiring.

Reward Your Successes

Celebrating our successes in meeting our goals is critical in keeping us motivated. Not every 25 minutes, obviously. But when we’ve reached a significant milestone or nailed a tricky project? Hell yeah. The reward doesn’t need to be elaborate, expensive, fattening or time consuming (though why not, if you can swing it?). A massage, a night out with friends, a weekend spent purely on a personal project that keeps getting shelved for paid work: anything that nurtures and regenerates you could be worth a try.

Understand Your Procrastination

We don’t suddenly start cleaning, rearranging or ‘researching’ a work morning away for no good reason. Procrastination is a highly effective form of avoidance and self-sabotage, and we all use it from time to time – usually when we’re feeling unmotivated, under confident, overwhelmed or anxious. For perfectionists in particular procrastination can seem preferable to failing to meet (their own, ridiculously high) expectations. Problem is, it leaves us feeling guilty and despondent, which demotivates us further. If procrastination is more than a passing problem, find practical strategies through cognitive behavioural therapy. The best-selling book Change Your Thinking by Sydney psychologist Dr Sarah Edelman is quite literally a life-changer!

Expand Your Horizons

Creativity needs fuel. Motivate yourself and stay happy and sane with regular excursions outside the bubble that is your studio. Make time to attend friends’ openings, see shows, hang with people you hold dear, travel, explore other interests, take workshops to learn new skills, push yourself via scary creative collaborations. What better way to connect with like-minded creative souls than by attending IA’s next fab event