Friday, October 14, 2022

The Cycle of Motivation vs. Procrastination

Recently I blogged about a day where I had no motivation and just wanted to do nothing, even though I had plenty of things to do.  I listened to myself, took a break, and then ran some errands to shake things up.  When I got home, I felt a little less blah, and got to work on a project.  Accomplishing something had the effect of making me feel more motivated to do other things, which I wrote an update about later.

I said I needed to blog more about it eventually, and here we are!

The concerns of too much focus on time management aside, there's a reason procrastination is such a vicious cycle.  There's also a reason why doing things - and feeling good about it - makes you want to do more things.  It's all about how those things make you feel.

Not doing things has a habit of making you feel worse, at least in my experience.  It saps your motivation and stalls your momentum.  There's a reason it's hard to go back to work and be productive when you've been on vacation, for instance.  Or why it's so hard to break out of a slump when you don't feel like doing anything and have been procrastinating for a while.

Doing things, on the other hand, tends to make you feel good.  It's the same reason why accomplishing things has a positive impact on self esteem, for instance, or why it's easier to move onto the next item on your to do list when you're already in motion.

There's a certain amount of energy that you get when you're productive, and it's easy to use that energy to get started on the next thing, and the next, and the next.  There's an extra boost you get when you do something that makes you get up and move around, too, I think, which is why frequently I find that going to the barn for a bit or running some errands can help me break out of a rut.

Take this blog, for instance.  Around the same time that I got burnt out on freelancing full-time, which I discussed recently, I also stopped blogging regularly.   I had barely updated my blogs for years, and I even let quite a few of them go (I used to have a horse blog, a book review blog, and a 1920s wedding planning blog, all of which I decided to shut down).

In the last month or two, though, as Panama started getting better and I started getting more time again, I decided I wanted to devote more of my attention to freelancing again.  I started focusing more not just on freelance work, but on branding and blogging.  All of the things I've accomplished have gotten me even more excited for freelancing again, and it's made me more motivated to get my work done quickly.  I've even been getting client work done right away, instead of scheduling my work calendar around the deadlines, like I used to.  It's been a new experience for me, and I find the more I accomplish, the more I want to do.

So in the spirit of my newfound productive energy, next week I'm going to do a series of posts of how to break through that do-nothing feeling, whether it's writers block or something else.  I still believe in the importance of listening to yourself and taking a break when you need a break, but sometimes we don't have the luxury to do that for long when we're self-employed.  So I want to write about how to get going on things when you're struggling with motivation, and how to harness that momentum so that you can keep it going until you get excited about it, too.

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