How to boost your motivation by Professor Richard Wiseman

Keeping motivated can be difficult at the best of times, and after the year we've been through, it can be even harder to stay focused!

To help you increase your motivation, Professor Richard Wiseman shares with us ten top tips from psychologists to help us stay on track:

1. Eat frogs

Mark Twain once remarked:

'If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.'  

Twain was describing a great way of promoting motivation. If there's something that you don't want to do, do it first thing in the morning, because you'll have more energy then, and it will provide a sense of accomplishment and momentum for the rest of the day.

2. One step at a time

Trying to achieve a big task often feels overwhelming. To avoid feeling disheartened, break a large task into several small steps. For maximum effect, create a maximum of five smaller steps, and make sure that each step has a realistic deadline and is measurable (so that you know exactly what you are trying to achieve).

3. Plot your progress

Make your plans and progress as concrete as possible by putting them in writing. Many people like to make handwritten notes, some use a computer, and other prefer covering a notice board with graphs or pictures. Either way, the act of writing, typing or drawing will significantly boost your chances of success.

4. Connect with others

Telling others about what you intend to achieve, and when you will achieve it, increases your motivation because you won’t want to let them down. If possible, share your goals with family, friends or colleagues.

5. Make a start

Procrastination can stem from a fear of failure, perfectionism or an inability to estimate how long tasks take. Either way, there’s a simple technique that will help you to avoid it. Unfinished activities stick in people’s minds and motivate them to complete the task.

When you feel yourself procrastinating about a certain activity, make yourself work on the task for just a few minutes. Even a small amount of activity will help to create an urge to see the task through to completion.

6. Talk to yourself

Studies show that people become far more motivated when they talk to themselves in the second-person (‘You can do it’) than the first-person (‘I can do it’).

The next time you find your motivation waning, use the magic 'you' word by telling yourself that ‘you can make a start’ and that 'you can do it’.

7. Take a break

Working for long stretches of time without a break can lead to exhaustion and boredom.
After working away for 40 minutes or so, take a short break to refresh your mind, and replenish your attention and productivity. During each break, try moving around and, if possible, going into a different room.

8. Tomorrow is another day

If you didn’t have a particularly productive day, don’t think of yourself as an unproductive person. Instead, see it as a temporary setback and focus on ways of making a successful new start the next day.

9. ‘To-do’

At the end of each working day, make a list of everything that you intend to do the following day. This list will help to put you in a productive mind-set the next morning, as well as helping you to prioritise your activities.

Don’t worry if you don’t accomplish everything on your list. Instead, just carry any unfinished tasks over to the next day.

10. Shut your eyes

Sleep is vitally important for wellbeing. If possible, make sure that you are going to bed at a regular time and are getting a good night’s rest.

A nap around lunchtime can help to replenish your motivation and energy, but make sure that it only lasts around 20 minutes – any longer and you run the risk of disrupting your night-time sleep.


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