Even if you love what you do, some days it can be hard to find the motivation to work on it. This lack of motivation can come from any number of sources and none of it speaks to how much you enjoy what you’re doing. Sometimes it just doesn’t want to work. I find that sitting and trying to force motivation is counterproductive. The intentions are good, but the results are not. You might find that you can push yourself and complete the work, but how much longer did it take, and is it your best work? I find that when I force something it isn’t my best work and I have to go back and significantly edit or rework.
Being conscious of the lack of motivations is the first sign that you should step away for a minute. It doesn’t need to be long, we all have deadlines, but even a few minutes away can drastically improve the atmosphere. Even if you gather your things and just move to a new room or a new chair it can help reignite that creativity. Sometimes all I need to do is walk away from things. Do the dishes, put some laundry away, or, if I am feeling really stuck, take the dogs outside for a quick round of fetch. The fresh air, the amusement of the dogs struggling through a few feet of snow, the change in environment, it means my attention is on them, completely.
It usually only takes about 10 minutes of being away from the desk, the blank document, the growing to do list, to refresh. The best part of using this 10 minutes to take the dogs out or do the housework is that it feels productive. These tasks take my mind off the work and I still feel like I am getting something done, I’m not “wasting” time, I am just reallocating it. These are all things I would have to get done at some point in the day, so why not use them to reignite my motivation?
Ten minutes away, even on a strict deadline isn’t that much time. And, for me, taking those ten minutes away means that when I come back, I will (usually) get the work done much faster than if I had tried to force my way through. I pick my task based on how I am feeling. If it is a minor breather I will do the housework, but if I am feeling really stuck the best thing I can do is take the dogs out. Doing housework can sometimes just add to the feeling of being struck, it is a redundant task and can add to the problem if the mood is right. But, taking the dogs out rejuvenates any mood, it is hard not to laugh as they push through the snow, tackle each other, or both sprint back with each holding on to part of the toy.
Not everyone has a pet they can use as a distraction, but the change in environment is a big help, the fresh air, getting your body moving. So, if you can’t laugh at your pet then take yourself for a short walk, forget about things for a few minutes, and when you get back you can hit that to do list with new vigor.