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Get Movin’: How to Inspire Yourself at Any Time, Like Writing That Essay That’s Putting you to Sleep

Written by Rebecca Tunney

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” —Steve Jobs

Whether you have a 2,000-word essay due in 2 months or a lab report due in an hour, motivating yourself to do your work can seem impossible. Are you running low on energy? Just not in the mood? Always finding something more interesting to do? Whatever the reason, procrastination can really take its toll on your productivity, and maybe even your grades.

Plan Ahead

Making a schedule of events is a good way to understand what you have to get done, and by when. Plus, writing down your jobs is like solidifying the fact that you have to get them done. It gives you an overview of what you need to prioritize. Having all these assignments swarming in your head, screaming, “FINISH ME!” can be distracting, so sort everything out so there’s one less obstacle standing in your way.

Set Reasonable Goals

It’s easy to be intimidated by a bar that’s set too high. Eventually it’ll dawn on you that you won’t be able to achieve the goal, so you’ll give up, because what’s the point? Instead set small goals, like stepping stones that create the overall path to your big goal. They won’t be as daunting, and you’ll actually feel positive about the fact that you can achieve them. For example, write the introduction paragraph by the time your sister gets home from dance practice.

Set Up Shop Where You Know You’ll Work

This means don’t do work on your bed, lest you fall asleep. This also means don’t work on a stiff chair, because you’ll be fidgeting, trying to find a comfortable position. Figure out the place where you work the best, and stay there. Take a bottle of water and a snack with you, too.

Get Rid of Your Distractions

So wait, you have time to watch three episodes of Agent Carter, but none to start your research? Turn off/silence your phone and shove it in a drawer across the room. Way out of reach. Avoid using your laptop at all costs, but if you absolutely have to, use the Self Control app to block yourself from social media and other distracting websites.

Ok, One Quick Distraction. Watch This:

Give Yourself Little Rewards

Positive reinforcement. If it works for dogs, it can work for us! It’s the idea of having something good to look forward to that motivates us to get over hurdles. Rewarding yourself with a break is also good for refreshing the mind. Beware, though, of the temptations that lurk in Restville. A five-minute scroll through Tumblr can turn into an hour. Set a timer for how long you’ll allow yourself to break, then get back to work as soon as the timer goes off. Don’t even think about saying “just one more minute!” That’s how procrastination starts.

Ask for Help and Encouragement

Some parts of this process can get frustrating, and frustration makes for even less motivation to do your work. Ask people for help when you need it. You may get done even faster this way. And if you can feel your energy draining, ask friends for some positive vibes. If encouragement can help marathon runners cross the tape, it can help you write that essay.

Remember How Good it Feels

Imagine all this weight lifted off your shoulders when you finally finish. Imagine all the free time you’ll have. Conversely, think about how stressed you’ll be if you leave it to the last minute. Stress is not fun. The sooner you get it done, the more time you’ll have for Agent Carter.

Remember Why You’re Doing It

Is this essay worth 60% of your final grade? Do you need to do well in this course in order to fulfill your degree requirements? If anything, just remember how much you’re paying for school. Correction, remember how much OSAP or your parents are paying for school. That’s what usually gets me back to work.

Go Do It. Right Now.

Seriously, get off this blog and go finish your work. Carpe diem.

How do you motivate yourself? Let us know down below… and then go do your work!

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.