Get excited first thing in the morning.
It takes hours for some of us to really wake up (especially us night owls) so find something that will get you pumped up and ready to be productive. For me, it’s taking a shower and listening to whatever my current favorite playlist is. For others, it may be coffee, exercise, playing with the dog, cleaning a small space, responding to comments on your blog… the possibilities are endless. Experiment and see what works for you.
This is vital! Even if you aren’t going anywhere and no one will see you. Take a shower, do your hair and makeup, put on some clothing that makes you feel confident, and get to work! Bonus points if you put on shoes. I honestly don’t know why this works but without fail, I always feel ready to tackle anything when I get dressed. Even more extra credit (for you extroverts out there) if you actually get out and go run an errand or see a friend to get your day started.
Make the bed. Do the dishes.
I know, I keep telling you guys to do chores but I swear it’s for your own good! Even when your house is a mess, having a freshly made bed and a clean, empty sink make everything feel like it’s in order. At least enough that you can get through the day without pulling your own hair out. A clean(ish) space is a productive space.
Create a work space that you enjoy.
Speaking of productive spaces, make your work space enjoyable and inviting. Michael and I currently use the extra bedroom in our house as an office. I set my desk up so that it’s somewhere I want to be. I put pictures on the walls around me, a small motivational framed quote on my desk, a vintage lamp, and usually a candle. I have my schedule hung up on the wall behind my desk for easy viewing. I make sure to clear my desk off every evening so that I don’t start my day with a mess. Before I sit down to start working, I usually make myself a cup of tea or coffee in an attractive mug and get myself a small snack. All of my craft supplies and school necessities are close by and I have enough space to work. This is just how my space is currently though. I had 5 roommates at my last house so my bedroom was where I did most of my work and my bed was my ‘desk.’ You’re a creative human, use those skills to make your space work for you. I would love to see pictures of your current or past work spaces! Share a photo in the comments.
Surround yourself with positive, reinforcing visuals.
This is a big one. Especially as creatives, we love visuals. Motivational photos, dream boards, pictures of your goal, a chart of your progress — whatever works for you. Fun fact: I have spent entirely too long in undergrad. I have gone to four colleges and took a long time to get serious about school and a career. Okay, so it’s not such a fun fact. It actually kind of blows. It did, anyway. While I was attending my second community college, I started to get motivated about applying to Radford. I didn’t have the best grades and it was going to be a while before I could even apply, let alone get accepted… but I was determined. I bought a picture frame (Dollar Tree, ftw!) and put it on my desk. I looked at it every time I wanted to skip an assignment or drop out of a class.
Bonus: Check out my tutorial for how to make a clothesline photo frame. Use it to hang pictures of your goals, as well as motivational quotes.
Post your weekly schedule somewhere that you’ll see it.
I’m really bad with time. Like, really bad. I’m always 10 minutes late and if I didn’t treat my planner like a bible, I’d never get my assignments in on time. I made a document in Microsoft Word with my class and work schedule, color coded by day and I put the times that I need to leave for each activity along with the times they start. This ensures I know how much time I have before I have to leave and saves me the hassle of trying to figure it out. I also like that this enforces my routine on a very basic level. Seeing my regular weekly schedule on a daily basis gives me a visual for planning. It’s hard to forget what I need to do for tomorrow when tomorrows activities are listed on my wall. Bonus points: make it visually appealing! The best way to incorporate the mundane is to make it pretty.
LISTS ARE LIFE. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Even if you are the most organized person in the world, lists will make your life easier. Going to the grocery store? Make a list. Homework? Make a list. Chores? Make a list. Packing? List. Comparing things? List. Starting your day? List. Living? MAKE. A. LIST. Okay, so maybe you don’t need a list for breathing but you do for everything else. Benefits of lists: 1) Forget about forgetting things, it’s all written down. 2) Makes prioritizing a breeze. 3) Crossing things of a list is entirely more satisfying than it should be. Setting tasks/goals and then completing them is a great self-esteem boost. We love those. 4) Organizing your ideas will make your life easier. 5) Lists are so versatile. You can make lists for big goals, small goals, daily tasks, things to remember, ideas or directions you need to communicate — you can make a list for pretty much everything in your life. Not that you should, but you could. 6) Lists don’t have to be bullet points on a piece of paper. One semester, I made a grid on an empty wall in my bedroom with notecards, outlining each week of the semester on one axis and the day of the week on the other. Then I used post-it notes to put up when each of my assignments was due. I took each one down after I completed that particular assignment. Lists come in all shapes and forms. Be creative.
Take short breaks.
It’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed while your working, especially in a creative field. If you try to power through those feelings, you often end up intensifying them. You can’t think clearly when you’re brain feels like it’s short-circuiting. Set a timer and take 5-10 minutes to do something unrelated. Do not go watch tv, get on Facebook, or lay in your bed festering in your frustration. Take that time to teach your dog a new trick. Go for a walk around the block. Make a snack. Pick your outfit for tomorrow. Do some light cleaning. Read. Do yoga. Call your mom. Be productive or don’t, just make sure you’re doing something unrelated and not likely to further your frustrations. This is good practice even when you aren’t overwhelmed. Sometimes the best ideas come from unlikely places. Plus, sitting down all day, every day is bad for you — at least that’s what the old people keep telling me.
Connect with people who have the same goals.
We have all heard someone complain about the fitness culture on social media. Every one is *so* sick of seeing progress pictures and health food and gym selfies. Here’s the thing though, people who do that stuff are more likely to stick with their goal and succeed. Having a support group is motivation in itself. Documenting your journey and sharing it with others makes us feel good. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If it keeps you going and it doesn’t hurt anyone, do it.
Give advice. Seek advice.
Help others with similar goals by giving them advice. Tell them about your experiences, successes, failures, and insights. The reason for this is twofold. First, you get to help someone else. Congratulations, you’re a decent human being. Second, you will realize how far you’ve come in your journey. It may feel like you’re stagnant but you’re not! You’re making progress. You’re closer to your goal than you were before! With that being said, don’t forget to seek advice. Often. There is always more to learn and ways to get better. You never know what kind of secrets to success other people have until you ask.