There are some days when I wake up before dawn, before my alarm, jump out of bed with a smile, dash to the kitchen to make coffee, and immediately get right to work. I finally close my laptop several hours later with thousands of words written in my new manuscript, two new blog posts drafted, copyedits complete, and my Pinterest campaign for the entire week completely scheduled. All in time to go out to lunch with Anth.

And then there are the other days. The days that I get up at 5am only because my alarm demands it, blearily drink coffee because it’s just about all my sleepy mind can handle just then, and finally get around to opening the laptop only to find: I don’t wanna do anything. Or, I only want to do the easy stuff, not the hard stuff, like writing.

Every single one of these days, I have the initial thought: Take a day off! You’ve earned it! Treat yo’self!

And sometimes I do! But if I listened to that little voice every time it spoke up, there is zero chance I’d be where I am today. I wouldn’t have finished my first book, much less thirty. I wouldn’t have created any writing templates, or published a single blog post, or taught myself how the heck to use Pinterest for my business.

Some days, darling, you simply have to push through. Here’s how I do it …

Three Tips for Pushing Through When You’re Short on Motivation:

(1) Make your to-do items tiny.

I’m talking truly minuscule, a task so easy that your brain doesn’t feel even remotely compelled to rebel. I often employ the 5-minute rule when it comes to making sure I write even when I don’t feel like it. I’ll set my timer for five minutes, tell myself I to write for five minutes and only five minutes, and then I can go do something easier, or more fun.

Giving myself permission to go play after the 5-minutes is up makes it so much easier to open the manuscript. Because, best case scenario, I often keep writing well after the five minutes. And quite often, I’ll do several 5-minute sessions, until, before I know it, I’ve exceeded my initial goal for the day even though I’d thought I only wanted to do five minutes.

Worst case scenario, I really will quit after the 5 minute timer, but I still feel pretty damn good, because I accomplished my [revised] goal, and I know that five minutes of words is better than no words at all. Not to mention, just opening the manuscript helps keep the story flow going just enough to make my next writing session a little bit easier.

I still employ the 5-minute rule, though lately I’ve been experimenting with a wordcount goal instead. When I really don’t feel like writing, I tell myself I just have to write 200 words. I don’t know why, but for me, this is a magic wordcount to feel both totally do-able, but it also pulls me into the story just enough that I almost always write beyond that 200 word goal.

The trick here is remind your cranky brain that you don’t have to do everything. Just something.

(2) WW __ D

When you’re trying to decide between doing something easy (or doing nothing at all), or doing that thing that feels hard, ask yourself:

What would {insert your GOALS role model here} do?

Whenever I’ve got a case of the whatevers, I like to give myself a gentle reminder that the people I most look up to likely didn’t get there by slacking off. You want to be the next Oprah? The next Stephen King? The next Rachel Hollis, Coco Chanel, or Jeff Bezos?

Ask yourself what they would do if they were in your shoes that very moment. Would they turn on the TV and eat chips? Or, is it more likely they would tackle that to do list, even if they didn’t feel like it?

(3) Give yourself a carrot

We talk a lot about carrots around here, since both Anthony and I work from home, and thus have seen each other through a lot of the “but I don’t wanna!” days.

What do I mean carrot? I mean the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick, that reward that keeps you moving forward. Yes, I’m talking about bribing yourself, because you know what? It works.

Every now and then, I’m fueled by what feels like some magical source of motivation (oh how I wish I could bottle that source!), but more often, I need the carrot, that thing I get to have or do after I’ve finished the hard stuff.

You’ll have to pick your own carrot, that thing that most motivates you to push through the sludge, but around our home, carrots tend to look something like this:

  • After I write 1,000 words, I get a slice of leftover pizza.

  • After I go to the gym, I get to watch an episode of Schitt’s Creek.

  • After turn in these proofreads to my editor, I get to play on Instagram.

  • If I finish all six-items on today’s to-do list, I get a glass of wine.

Remember, the choices you make today will create the life you have a year from now.

Hacking your motivation