Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Often, tasks are delayed till a reasonable time before the deadline. Just because you feel like you can do it later; so, you are basically procrastinating by surfing the web, chatting with people, listening to music, ...

This is mostly by a lack in motivation to do it right now. So I wonder, how can I get that motivation going?

share|improve this question

I think this is part of the reason techniques like Pomodoro and virtually anything that forces you to break up the task into small pieces. It gets you to realize the first step is small and just gets started. Which gives you momentum to continue. It's harder in school because in the job most people feel compelled to work on some task. In school, I would say to remind yourself that it is less stressful to start earlier and that you are training yourself to have good habits.

(I realize Pomodoro has many other benefits, but this feels like the most relevant one to this question.)

share|improve this answer
+1 Breaking up into small pieces. In GTD, David Allen writes about breaking up tasks into "widgets": basically the smallest sub-task possible. That first sub-task is usually incredibly small and easy ("Open up Word", "Pick up phone"), and that will get you started. – Atif May 1 '12 at 22:29

The best thing to do is to start, even without the idea of finishing coming to mind. Procrastination is easy, but you have to get over the hurdle and realize that doing something productive is easier, if you follow me.

share|improve this answer

I remember doing essays in high school where I could spend 2 to 200 hours on the essay and get nearly the same grade so I'd procrastinate as I didn't see the value in spending all that extra time to get so little value out of it so there can be a good intention behind putting something off in some cases if you think it'll be a black hole in terms of time.

As for getting something done now, consider why would you want it done? What benefits will come and if accelerated what comes faster?

share|improve this answer

I think also it helps to keep a list of what you have already accomplished as well as the to do list. It makes you feel better about yourself and the project. Once in a while review this list of accomplishments.. but not too often ;)

share|improve this answer

I'm totally starting to sound like a broken record if you look at my previous answers, but I think there's a simple answer to the problem of generating motivation: commitment devices. You lack motivation because in the moment it's hard to care about long-term consequences. You can change that by making the long-term consequences immediate. That's what Beeminder does, by plotting your progress along a "yellow brick road" and charging you as soon as you have even a single data point off track (the road is wide enough that that isn't too harsh).

[Disclosure: I'm part of Beeminder!]

share|improve this answer

Listening to motivational speeches by Eric Thomas ("the Hip Hop Preacher") or TED talks usually gets me in a focused, motivated state.

The motivation you are looking for is habitual motivation. That requires a change in your mental attitude toward your work. You must not see the work as how long you have until you need to have it done, but instead, see your time allotted as buffer to complete it, starting right away.

We go to social networking and youtube and such because it is easy. One click on your favorites link and you're there. No thinking involved or challenge presented. Try using a browser-plugin to block those sites for you for an allotted time. I use StayFocusd for Chrome. You will be surprised how easy it is to "give up" those social sites when they are blocked from your browser.

share|improve this answer

I think the most important is to slice your big projects into milestones and only the next milestone to actionable steps that you know you can do. Actionable means that you can do the thing that is written as a todo item. It's not actionable when you cannot do it but have to guess how to do it (sounds like a milestone to me).

The other most important :) thing is that you choose big projects and milestones in a way that you know you can do them if you try really hard. They sould not be too easy (boring) and unreachable to you in the moment.

Trash your hundreds of parallel projects and keep a handful of them that matters you most. Check periodically how you're making progress with them. You'll find that you don't make progress in lots of them. Maybe they're not so important to you. Learn to feel and identify this, maybe they're important to someone else. It's imperative to find the root causes why you don't do something. It gives you the control (and the feeling of control) back because you can start to solve the root case. Never skip this step.

I hope you can start with these. Remember, it's about getting to know yourself and your feelings that drive you.

share|improve this answer

I suggest doing a thorough analysis of your time... use a mobile time tracking app (i.e. TSheets - to track every minute of your day for a specified period of time - say, a week. Then generate a report to show you how productive (or.. gulp, how unproductive) your hours are spent. That might just be the impetus you need to get crackin'!

share|improve this answer

well..nothing wrong in that.You put it as lack of motivation but those days near deadline is actually optimizing your efficiency and concentration. Well the point is that you have a proper time frame which goes underutilized and you got to rush at the eleventh hour. A better way for this would be

  1. Look at your task daily and try finding out ways to make it better.
  2. Set short agenda for everyday ensuring completion.(Rest time is all yours for the web and music.)

Another thing worth mentioning is there are two ways to do any job:

  1. To do it for the sake of doing it. The goal is accomplished and the task is done.
  2. To put your 'X-factor' in doing it. The goal is accomplished but what is it which makes my work outstanding.

Your involvement into your task is the only key to motivation. There cannot be any external substitute to it.


share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.