Getting After a Nagging Project

Welcome to another episode of Making it Happen, with Amanda Kaufman! This week, I’m exploring ways to discover that motivation that is perhaps lacking when it comes to your “Priority B” projects – you know the ones… The projects that you feel you really must do, but never really seem to get around to it. I’m a big advocate for eliminating tasks and projects as a totally viable way of getting them off your to-do list, but this episode is all about those tasks that must stay on the list, but aren’t getting done…
Last week, for the first time in a long time, I tackled my home office. I do a lot out of that space, and I use a lot of paper in the process because I like how paper helps me think. Anyway, this office clutter was getting to be problematic; it was distracting, it felt oppressive, and it didn’t feel congruent with my values or how I wanted to show up in the world – especially as someone who is as passionate as productivity and performance as me!
So what do you do with those nagging tasks that don’t seem to get done? Here are some ideas to get you going:

Remember that you can manufacture motivation

  • I used to believe that motivation was something you “had”, and when I didn’t “have” motivation, I used that reasoning to justify why I didn’t do something that I knew was important to be done.
  • Over the years I have come to realize just how untrue that is. You can manufacture motivation.
  • When you realize that something like motivation is malleable, it’s something you can mold, something you can conjure up… You’ll stop waiting around for it to appear, and you can get busy with making the motivation happen for you – to the point where you might even do things without the requirement for motivation to be there. Gettin’ existential on ya, so if that’s a bit much, just remember: you can choose to build your own motivation.

Have some kind of carrot at the end of the project

  1. For my office project, I told myself, AND ENFORCED, that I wouldn’t go pick up my new cute glasses until I had dealt with this office.
  2. I’ve used trips out to my favorite paper and stationary store
  3. I’ve used a fun (for me) activity like baking or a favorite movie
  4. I also went out and got the diffuser I’ve been thinking about buying for a while and set that up in my newly tidied office. Yay!
  5. Choose something that takes almost no convincing to get you to do otherwise, and use it as a reward and something to look forward to on the other side of the project!

Find something enjoyable to do alongside the task

  • There’s a reason I don’t like to clean my office. I hate flipping through all that paper and actually filing it! I like the result of filing, but the act of actually filing things for the first time makes me bristle.
  • I chose a really upbeat playlist to play loud and on repeat to keep my mood energized and my spirits high.
  • I also use pretty file folders. I hate filing, but I love pretty paper, so I extracted some of the “suck” out of the task by choosing pretty paper.

Manage your energy, including your physical energy.

  • Have breaks, drink water, eat food, stretch… Stay limber and stay energized to conquer the task.
  • It is really easy to transform a “break” into an “indefinite break away” from the task – so be very clear with yourself what you are doing in a break… You are recharging and replenishing yourself to continue tackling the task.
  • I say breaks are a little risky, but they are very important – you might remember from my video on Stop Managing Your Time that it is energy which matters most in productivity!
  • Remember to pause, to center, to rest, to hydrate, to fuel yourself, and to move around and stay limber. Your staying power will last through the end if you do these things.

Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

  • I wanted to have space to think, to be able to find things quickly, to have space that was congruent with what I value and how I want to present myself in the world…
  • If you’re having trouble identifying why it is important to do this project; consider not doing it at all and letting it go. BUT if you have a compelling reason (and that can be “I just really want to”) be sure to tap into that reason regularly.
To tackle that big, nagging task, make sure that rather than waiting for motivation, MAKE IT YOURSELF.
I hope this serves you, and that you have a great week ahead!

Reflective Question:

What is a project that you “should” do but never seem to be motivated to tackle?

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