Have you ever had to motivate yourself for nonessential tasks? I have. In fact, I’m doing it right now. I don’t have to write this blog. I certainly don’t have to meet any deadlines. But I paid for this website, so I feel like I have to write, even when I’m forcing myself to do it. Almost everything I do is nonessential, to be honest. I’m lucky enough that I don’t even have to work if I don’t want to. I’d just give my clients thirty days notice and bounce. My ultimate goal is to go back to work outside of the house, though, so I keep on keeping on. Luckily for you, I’m going to share my three ways to motivate yourself for nonessential tasks.
Before we get started, I should mention these tips aren’t necessarily for 9-5 office jobs. I mean, even if you’re doing a nonessential task there, someone’s paying you and there are consequences for not doing them. What more motivation do you need? This is more for things like blogging, or hobbies, or anything in your life that no one is going to make you do or even motivate you to do if you don’t ask. You know, projects you take on for one reason or another that have some benefits, but not enough to really push you forward.
Motivate Yourself for Nonessential Tasks
1. Set an End Date
End dates are a great motivator. I actually have one for this blog. Not a shut down forever kind of end date, but a not work so hard end date. Getting a blog up and running takes a lot of work, and quite frankly I’m tired of having to research so much. So, I told myself after two years, I can just write the posts I want and not worry about the rest. It helps me keep going when I know it’s only for a short period of time. This has helped me with second jobs before too. Once I took up pizza delivery to finish off my student loans. I always knew I was going to quit at a certain date regardless of my loan being paid off, so it didn’t become unbearable.
Setting an end date is a great way to motivate yourself for nonessential tasks, but I realize not everyone is as hard on herself as I am. Once I set a goal, it gets put in my to-do list with a date, and that’s pretty much that. I’m not going to give up on it until I reach that date, and even then I might adjust and keep going. But, if you aren’t that type, go ahead and share your end date with someone and promise them results. That makes it more significant, even if your nonessential project is something like finishing a baby blanket you started eight years ago.
2. Work up to a Reward
Look, we all know rewards are motivators, right? Sometimes you just have to come up with them yourself. You’ll see this most in dieting with cheat days and whatnot. I personally allow myself a donut when I reach certain goals on my baby weight loss journey. But rewards aren’t just for weight loss, and you definitely don’t need a boss to come up with them for you. Let’s go back to my delivery driving example. I worked there to pay off my student loan quickly, but you get ten years to pay it off, so it’s not like finishing early was really a reward. To add to my motivation, I decided paychecks would go straight to the loan (remember, I worked somewhere else too). But all those tips? I saved up for the Food and Wine Festival at Disney World, and it was 110% worth it.
It’s important to note here that your reward doesn’t need to be financial. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense to spend a lot of money as a reward when your goal is something as optional as finishing your summer reading list. That’s why coming up with ways to motivate yourself for nonessential tasks is so difficult. For something like a reading list, perhaps your reward could be seeing a movie, or buying a really trashy book you’d never admit to reading. Here’s a pretty extensive list of rewards you can try. Just make sure it’s appropriate. Don’t think you’ll be very good at rewarding yourself? Well then, read on.
3. Join a Group
You’ve definitely heard of this before in physical fitness goals, but friends, we have the internet, and there’s a group for EVERYTHING. Need motivation to clean your baseboards? Join a Facebook group. Can’t make yourself finish your novel? Join a Meetup. If you’re a blogger, you know this already. Just yesterday I got all amped up trying to help another blogger in a group of mine rename her guide to hosting – and she’s my direct competition. I’m not even that active in these groups, but it still excites me being part of something, and if I wasn’t in them I’m pretty sure this blog would be over.
Science agrees that joining groups is motivational. The great thing is you don’t even have to meet these people in real life. They’ll still help you, just by existing and having one simple thing in common with you. How awesome is that?! Before I leave you, I want to add one thing. I use my to-do list for everything, and people are probably sick of reading about it, but marking tasks off is also a way to motivate yourself for nonessential tasks. Seriously, I practice Spanish and German every day just because it’s in my to-do list. At this point my brain actually thinks it’s required for some reason. So, if you don’t have a to-do list, get one, and then implement these other ideas for the bigger stuff. Now get to work on the things you would have totally procrastinated before reading this!