Self-motivation: The Tea Cosy Guide To Getting Things Done And Keeping Your Head Together.


So there you are. Living the dream. You can live as you please, make your own schedules, do what you like. You can work all night and sleep all day. You’re answerable to nobody but, well, whoever it is that you get the money from to pay the bills. You’re doin’ it from home. Woo hoooo!

In the office daydreaming about working for yourself, there are things you never think about. What the lack of structure will do to you. That sinking feeling of not having communicated with another human being offline in days. The fact that spending all day in your PJs is not actually all it’s cracked up to be. The fact that if you’ve no boss on your back about getting your work done, you have to be that person. Living in an ever-growing pile of notebooks, teacups and boxes of cereal. Realising that there are distinct advantages to being in the same time-zone as the people next door.

I can’t claim to be a goddess of self-motivation. But while I’ve spent more days writing in my PJs than I care to admit, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting my ass in gear.

Street preacher in Covent Garden with an unusu...

If it works for you…. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tea Cosy Guide To Getting Things Done And Keeping Your Head Together.

1. Go to bed. Set an alarm.

If you do nothing else, do this. For the first while after I became unemployed, I didn’t. It was nice for the first week or so. Then it was… not. Really, really not. There’s nothing to make you feel like you’re wasting your life quite like the day being half over before you’ve even had your cornflakes. If you’re going to do this (and you are!), then the first thing to know is that 90% is convincing yourself that you know what you’re doing. Nothing like getting up at a sensible hour to help you feel like a responsible adult as opposed to a sofa-bound waster.

2. Make to-do lists. Not just for today.

So you’re out of bed, breakfasted, teeth brushed and wearing something you could be seen outside in. Congratulations! Stage one is complete! You’re probably feeling a slight temptation to plonk yourself down on the sofa with a cuppa right about now. And if you don’t have a to-do list, this is probably exactly what you’re going to do.

So every few days, sit yourself down and think about what you need to get done. Not just today. For the whole week. Write them down. Break them down. If you’re me, you probably want to put little ticky boxes next to them, colour-code them based on urgency, and give them a different number of ticky boxes based on how much time and effort they’ll take. But, y’know, just a list is fine too. I get that not everyone’s like me.

The thing about the To-Do List is that it gets you over the post-breakfast hump. You know what you’re doing and, damnit, you’re an Organised Person who’ll get that stuff done. Huzzah!

3. Have a calendar or a planner. Use it. Make plans.

Yes, I know that you just filled up your To-Do List with all the things you need to do. And now I want you to have a calendar as well? Well, yes. I do. The To-Do List is what you need to do. The planner tells you when you need to do it. And the planner is also where you put all of the non-work things that you have to do. You know that world outside your doors? The one with other people in? That you might need an umbrella for? You should probably get out there at some point. The planner’ll tell you when to do that.

The other good thing about the calendar is that, when you’ve inevitably gone and spent three days in your house eating leftover lasagne sandwiches and having a far more casual relationship with your shower than your friends would like, you know that you have something to get scrubbed up for. Calendars remind you what days of the week are.

And while we’re at it..

4. Have regular things you do. Outside.

There’s bound to be something you like to do. Me, I like roller skating to loud music and a good stitch ‘n’ bitch. Maybe you prefer rugby or street preaching. Whatever works for ya. We’re all different. But do it. Do it every week. Put it in your planner. If your calendar is the thing that reminds you what a day of the week is, having Street Preaching Thursdays or Knitting Saturdays is what reminds you what days of the week are for. It’ll also help you to keep a sense of perspective. Literally, as well as figuratively. I heard once that if your eyes don’t have to look at something more than a few feet away for months, they stop knowing how to. Honest. I read it on this here internet, so it must be true. Don’t let this happen to you. Leave the house.

5. Get some exercise. Clean the house.

Obviously this one depends on your spoons and physical capabilities and all. But if you can? Do! Keep those exercisey endorphins doing whatever it is they do. Do the dishes even if there’s nobody except you there. Seriously. You’ll want to put this one on your To-Do List. If it’s the kind of thing you tend to let slide, then bookmark Unfuck Your Habitat now. And go there every damn day. You’ll be so inspired you won’t know what happened.

Those are my tips ‘n’ tricks. How about you? How do you keep yourself motivated and getting things done, day in and day out? If you work from home or are self-employed or aren’t in paid employment like myself, how do you keep yourself up and doing things and interacting with the rest of the world? Let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Self-motivation: The Tea Cosy Guide To Getting Things Done And Keeping Your Head Together.

  1. Thanks so much Aoife! :) This just made me go and brush my teeth at last after spending the morning at my desk in my PJs, correcting class tests. As a friend is coming to visit me tonight that’ll also make me not only clean myself but my apartment as well. So, inviting people to your house is fairly good not to end up in a total mess, I think.

    • Y’know, it’s kind-of ironic that I set this one to post today because I’ve just spent a couple of days breaking, er 3 out of 5 of those rules. And I’m totally suffering for it.

      Also, hello, you lovely person of loveliness!

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