As a few people have noticed, I have not been consistent with posting new articles on this blog lately. I must say that I have made significant progress in other areas of my life and I am very proud of it, and it’s natural to shift priorities from time to time. In the previous post I discuss a few reasons as to why I stopped posting.
In this article I will go over what I have done to get myself out of this rut, if you will. Only time will tell, but I think I have identified a few key points that have been helping me lately. Of course, please be mindful that every situation is different. In this case, this blog is a personal passion project of mine, so the stakes are low and I know I enjoyed publishing the first articles.
Go back to the why
The first thing to do is to reflect on your motivation for why. In my case , thinking back to the reasons for starting a blog in the first place, what I wanted to get out of it and why. This concept is something which is well known and it could seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to remind ourselves to check in with our why. In some cases you might even re-evaluate your core motivation and reasons for doing a certain thing and start going a new direction. This could be as extreme as deciding to quit/pause the project altogether: I think this demonstrates a lot of perspective and bravery and will allow you to focus on higher priority things. Or will find that a reminder of the initial goals and motivation is what you needed to fuel your next steps – great! In any case, you know what you want now, where to focus your energy, and why.
For me, the first article published is conveniently titled Why am I starting this blog?. Reading it back and thinking about it was a good reminder of why I started the blog and how I believe consistency is key. So I decided to get back into the swing of things and really focus on the blog in the upcoming weeks.
Another thing to do is to talk to a friend or family member, as this can help evaluate the situation from an outside perspective. They will be able to offer their point of view and support and theh can help you figure out your next steps.
When a task feels daunting, I stop and reflect. Often I find it’s overwhelming because I am unclear on what the different steps are and how I can break down the project into smaller tasks. In this article arguing if motivation is what we are missing, I quote James Clear
Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.
This can happen without you realising. It’s usually good to take a step back, realize you don’t need to go from 0 to 100% in the next hour or day, but you can anyway make good progress, that will compound.
In my case, I saw “restart blogging” as a huge task of publishing weekly posts for months in a row, sharing the content on different platforms, planning articles in advance for when I went on holiday and so on. Of course, these are all separate tasks. I don’t have to have months worth of articles ready by tomorrow. I can set up some time to share the content. All this was now not an overwhelming project, but a series of activities to plan and tick off one at a time.
Once you know what you need to do, it’s important to define when you are going to focus on different things. I think having a strict schedule works in some cases, depending on your personality and the task at hand. But even if you prefer to be inspired in the moment, it’s useful to block your calendar to ensure you will dedicate this time to this project.
This is also helpful because it means you have a default response for what you will be doing on Tuesday evening, for example. No need to think about it, it’s already been decided by past-you. It could sound weird, but it has worked for me in the past.
I find that tracking my progress is motivating, as I can see what I have accomplished already, how much effort I have put into something and the results that came with it. I suggest writing it down using either a notebook or a digital tool. I usually pair this with the plan I do every week as part of my weekly review (which I had also stopped doing, unfortunately).
Enjoy the journey
You decided to work on this project for a bunch of reasons, which are now clearly defined, as per point 1. This is something you want and hopefully like to do. Of course there will be parts of it that will not feel easy or interesting, but it’s important to try and enjoy the journey as much as possible. And appreciate what you are doing and accomplishing along the way.
For me, I had forgotten that I actually enjoy writing. I like focusing on something which is challenging but not extremely tough and seeing the progress made. Writing helps me think and connect the dots. It’s tiring but also relaxing, in a way, because you are forced to put all your attention on one thing. Link to Deep Focus and Astronaut book.
For other parts of this project which I might find less interesting, I can set up a timer and challenge myself to complete a task in 25 minutes. I can make myself a coffee and eat something while chipping away at whatever I need to do. I can go to a café and sit outside in the sunshine for an hour, before seeing some friends.
You can buy yourself something you wanted for a while as a reward for completing a big and challenging task.
Find ways to make the process fun, if it isn’t already, and appreciate it!
Find pockets of time
Hopefully you’re having fun and enjoying the process most of the time. In the moments when you are not enthusiastic about a specific task, you will probably be able see progress and this will be motivating. So much so that you will start to look for time in which you can work on these tasks that build up your project.
It is 22:06 at the moment, I have just finished an online class and I felt slightly tired and could have easily started putting on my pjs and spend the rest of the evening on my phone. Instead I know I want to write this article and get back on track with this blog, so I opened Notion and started working on this draft instead. And now that I’ve started, I am actually enjoying it.
Another thing I noticed is that sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “it’s too late now, what is the point” trap. Something had gone wrong at 10 am and now the whole morning is ruined. You couldn’t go for a run because it was pouring outside and so you lay on the couch the whole day. Or, in this case, I had a class until 22 tonight, so the rest of the evening is gone. In some cases it’s good to have a buffer between different activities and time to reflect, relax, do nothing. But I find it’s incredibly easy to dismiss a portion of thr day because of something else that happened or will happen around that time. In these cases it’s useful to remind ourselves to find pockets of time and take advantage of this, since it all adds up and you will feel satisfied in the end.
Get in the flow of things
I find that the more I leave a task and procrastinate it, the more difficult it seems. Once I start, instead, I often find that it is not, in fact as tough as I imagined it to be. The weird thing is this happens also related to activities you already know. I have been writing this blog for months and I liked the act of writing, elaborating my thoughts etc, but it still seemed so hard to start again. Probably I’d just gotten out of the habit. I have noticed just how simpler it feels once you are back in the flow. As mentioned before you start looking for opportunities and your perspective shifts. One thing leads to another also in terms in inspiration and ideas, topics to discuss and things to share. When writing one thing I think about another topic that could also make a good article and so on.
I hope you can take some of these pointers if you are in a rut – I know I will come back to it if needed