How to Get Motivated to Be More Productive

Ever wonder how to get motivated to be more productive? After going through a couple productivity slumps myself, I’ve compiled the methods I’ve found most helpful for overcoming lack of motivation!

woman sitting in a chair looking at her laptop

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

It happens to all of us. We have a to-do list that’s a mile long. But really all we feel like doing is binge watching Netflix or going to sleep. I do feel like an occasional Netflix binge is good for the soul. But there is still a lot of “adulting” that needs to happen, even in those times we aren’t feeling particularly driven.

Can we learn how to get motivated to be more productive, even when we’re not feeling it?

I originally wrote this post a few years ago after just bouncing back from a stretch when I had been feeling completely unmotivated. While I would like to say that pinpointing the sources of my lethargy and ways that helped me regain my motivation prevented me from ever feeling unmotivated again, life just doesn’t work that way! There are just some days (or sometimes weeks or even longer) where we just don’t feel like we have “it.”

I’ve had a few more stints where I was lacking of motivation over the past few years and consequently pulling myself back to being a productive member of society. 😉

So I wanted to come in and update this post with some additional thoughts and ideas for getting to the place where we can be productive when you’re not feeling motivated.

Why don’t I feel motivated at all?!

I started out by asking myself why couldn’t I get motivated. Why was I struggling to complete these seemingly simple tasks that remained on my to do list day after day? I came up with two main reasons for my lack of motivation:

Problem #1: I was burnt out.

woman in a white shirt, sitting on a bed, looking at a laptop computer

Sometimes all of the different areas of our lives seem to become busy all at the same time and life begins to feel chaotic. We don’t want to let anyone down, so we keep pushing through in order to fulfill our obligations. But in the meantime, our own energy dwindles and our motivation begins to suffer.

Whenever I realize that this is happening in my life, I begin to try to make a few changes to get myself out of burn out mode and back to a healthier, more motivated place.

I declutter my time.

We talk a lot about decluttering “stuff,” but I am learning more and more that I need to declutter my time as well.

I am a people pleaser. I hate to tell anybody “no,” which means that I typically end up with too many things on my plate.

Often these are good things in and of themselves. But coupled with everything else I say “yes” to, they end up as just extra tasks. They keep me overly busy and contribute to my burn out.

woman in a white shirt sitting in a chair, looking at a planner

So as much as it pains me, I sometimes have to choose to step back from a few things and say “no” to a few others when I am asked.

It hurts. There have even been times where I’ve had to have a text message “therapy session” with my mom after I had said “no” to something because I felt like I was letting people down. But you know what?

It was the right choice.

Because when I say “yes” to something, it automatically means that I’m saying “no” to something else. And to keep my priorities in check and maintain my sanity, I just cannot say “yes” to everything– I can’t.

I allow myself to have some down time, guilt free.

I have kind of an intense personality, to the point where if I’m not doing something to be productive or get ahead, I begin to feel guilty about it. (Especially when my to-do list is feeling kind of daunting!)

The reality is though, when I really take a good hard look at my to-do list, very few of the items are actually urgent. Most are self-imposed deadlines. If I were to push them back for a day or two, it would not be the end of the world at all.

woman standing on a deck looking at a view of rolling hills

When I’m in burn out mode, I am typically distracted, exhausted, and not getting much done during my “work” time anyway. So I have learned to stop trying to force it.

I will sit on the couch and watch one of my favorite movies and let my brain just decompress. And it is lovely. 🙂 Sometimes we just need to let go of the to-do list and give ourselves a break. And we need to be okay with that.

I commit to getting enough sleep.

During these periods of being crazy busy, sleep is often one of the first things to go. I’m always tempted to stay up super late to be able to check off more items from my to do list. But I find that when I don’t get enough sleep, I have trouble focusing the next day anyway, so my plan backfires.

woman sitting on a bed with a white headboard, gray comforter, and aqua pillows

Instead of attempting to “burn the midnight oil,” I recommit to getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Then during my work time the next day, I am able to be much more focused and productive.

I make exercise a priority.

Sometimes just breaking up the monotony of my daily routine by getting outside and going for a walk is enough to give my brain a little refresh and bring back my motivation.

If it’s cold or rainy, a quick indoor workout will work too. But I’ve found that even for me (who is about as far from a “nature girl” as you can get), I feel more refreshed and gain more clarity when I’m getting fresh air and exercising outside.

Pink and orange Nike running shoes

It’s not always easy. When I’m feeling unmotivated, getting moving and exercising is often the very last thing I feel like doing.

But if I can just convince myself to get started (or have someone else hold me accountable), I am always glad that I did it. And I’m often re-energized to complete the other tasks on my to-do list as well.

Problem #2: I was dreading the task.

Laptop computer sitting on a bed with a white bedspread and blue floral pillow

The second reason I often have trouble becoming motivated is that I’m not looking forward to the items on my to do list.

I tend to leave the not-fun items for last. And they end up getting pushed further and further into the future, giving me more time to dread doing them! Eek!

When I see this happening again and again, I do a few simple things to try to stop it:

When I’m not feeling motivated, I tackle the most dreaded item on my to do list first.

This is often referred to “eating that frog,” after this book by Brian Tracy. If I can start right in on my hardest task, I will have gotten it out of the way. Then I won’t spend my entire day (or longer) dreading it.

Completing that tougher item helps me feel a sense of accomplishment. And it gives me momentum to complete the rest of the things on my to do list that day.

I set a timer.

Yep, just like when I was a little kid, somehow the magic timer helps me to get things done more efficiently. With this method (sometimes called the Pomodoro technique), I set a timer– usually for around 30 minutes. I commit to focusing only on the task at hand for that amount of time. No checking social media or email, no getting distracted by other things.

When the timer goes off, I take a 5 minute break. Then I head back for another focused chunk of time.

Reading in a cozy chair in an organized living room

When it comes to tasks I’m dreading, this is especially helpful. If I can just stick to it for 30 minutes and knock out a large piece of the task, I will feel so much better!

I give myself a reward.

I’m realizing that I’m using some of the same tactics on myself as I try on my boys!

Just like I’m not above bribing them to do certain things, I am not above bribing myself with a reward if it will help me get those dreaded tasks out of the way.

Organized pantry with decanted baking items, pasta, and spices

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I put away my phone.

Sometimes I’m simply not motivated to do any of the important tasks on my list because it’s just easier to stare at my phone and get lost in the social media scroll. My mind turns to mush and I get lost in the world of memes, viral videos, and status updates.

Woman in a pink sweater sitting in a chair, looking at a book

I don’t think social media or games or all of the other activities we do on our smart phones are all bad. But I do think that a break from them can work wonders for clearing up our brain fog and helping our motivation to return.

I go back to my “why.”

Sometimes reminding myself of why I’m doing the task that I’m not feeling motivated to do is enough to reinvigorate me.

Other times I find that my original “why” is lacking. Then I need to reexamine the reasons behind why I’m doing a task.

For example, when I first started to get serious about blogging, I would write blog posts because it was fun and allowed me to be creative. But I also wanted my blog to grow and my traffic numbers to go up.

When I started to feel like I was in a blogging rut at one point and reexamined why I was doing this whole blogging thing, I quickly realized that higher numbers or more “followers” wasn’t a motivating factor for me anymore.

What I really wanted to do was use the knowledge/ skills/ gifts that I had to help other people in whatever way I was able.

Once I shifted my “why” and found a more clear sense of purpose behind why I was doing what I was doing, my motivation came back. And I found that I was excited about blogging again!

Woman at a pink shirt sitting at a white desk, typing on a laptop computer

Similarly, I have found that my motivation can start to wane once I’ve accomplished a goal that I’ve set for myself.

For a long time our goal, our “why,” was to buy a new house. After living in our townhouse for seven years, we finally bought our current house. After we moved in there was this sense of, “Okay, we did it! Now what?”

Gray craftsman style house

When we had accomplished the thing that had been our motivation for so long, we let down and lost our drive for a little bit. We realized that we needed to take some time to regroup, set new goals, and create a different “why.”

Chat with a Doctor

Finally, this isn’t always necessary, but sometimes– particularly if you’ve experienced an unusually prolonged stint of feeling unmotivated– it might be helpful to check with your doctor to see if there is something else going on that could be contributing to the way you’re feeling.

Doctors are often able to recommend even small changes that can make a bigger impact on your energy and day-to-day motivation.

Woman in a purple dress sitting at a desk with a laptop in front of her

Adulting is hard, friend! And it’s especially tough when you feel like you’ve hit a productivity slump.

Yes, there will be times when you’ll be on a deadline and have to knock it out even when you don’t feel like it. In that case, I just try to picture how great the end result will be. Then I try to push through until I’m able to put the task behind me.

But we’re not robots. We can’t live in a constant state of overwork and overwhelm. We have to be able to give ourselves some grace, take a step back, and fall into a pace of life that will be sustainable and healthy for the long term. It’s not always easy. But we’ll definitely be thanking ourselves in the long run!

Have a wonderful week!

Abby

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

80 Comments

  1. Love this!! I often get burned out and decluttering is so important. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Suzi Whitford says:

    I was going off 3 hours of sleep for a week and it REALLY caught up with me. I got sick and had to step away from my blog and everything else for 5 full days, which feels like an eternity. Sleep is important, especially for us mommas! 😉

    1. Marjan Arbab says:

      I second that. Cant do anything when i am sleepless.

  3. Becki Kidd says:

    Good post. These steps are what I follow whenever I feel overwhelmed. On saying “No”, I heard a good suggestion for Business as well as Home Life. Make a Mission Statement. If the request doesn’t fit into either one, say no. It helps to keep your focus on what is important to you.

  4. I know this feeling, My one year old destroys everything and i look at it like do i have to adult today 🙂 Glad to know I’m not the only one. Thanks for the great tips. I might borrow a few of these.

  5. Abby – I loved this article! I even wrote down a quote about when you say yes to something you are also saying no to something else – I loved that! Thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It took a long time for me to realize it, but it has made such a difference! So glad the post was helpful for you, Michele! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Melanie@SimpleMadePretty says:

    I’m guilty of #2, although I’m not a big procrastinator, there are some tasks that I really hate doing and will put them off as long as possible. Thanks for the tips and motivation!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad they were helpful for you, Melanie! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Christene Holder says:

    I am exactly like this:
    “if I’m not doing something to be productive or get ahead, I begin to feel guilty about it”
    This happens to me all the time!!! It’s hard but also important to be able to take a break without feeling guilty. Thanks for the reminder – and thanks for all these tips!

    PS: Adulting IS hard 🙂 sooo true

    >> Christene

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Adulting is definitely hard, Christene! So glad the tips were helpful for you! Have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  8. I use the Scrum Methodology quite a bit. It just means that I am doing all the tasks, lol. For now. My Jr. High student uses it for homework. But adding the Pomodore method might make it even better.

  9. Linda Goreta Vinegar says:

    Love the post, Abby! It’s exactly what I needed to read today. It’s impossible to maintain a certain pace, while saying yes to everything, and not feel burnt out. I too feel guilty when I’m not being productive. Thanks for the helpful tips – I will definitely give them a try!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear you, Linda! I feel the same way! So glad the tips were helpful for you. Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Crystal Barton says:

    I agree, Abby! Eating that Frog helps. Once that frog is gone, you don’t have to think about it again. Well, that is until you wake up the next morning to yet another frog! Frogs never seem to go away. Great post! And, I love the Ultimate Bundle, how awesome is that!!!

  11. So glad I found this post. Had been searching for it:-)

  12. This post was just on time for me!! I didn’t realize your book was apart of the bundle. I was actually going to buy your Framework Master package this weekend, so I can officially get serious about my goal to start blogging. You are such an inspiration!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Ayanna! Best of luck with your blog!

      ~Abby =)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! That’s what I call my two sons, Connor and Caleb. It’s quicker than typing out their full names! 🙂 Have a great week, Nico!

      ~Abby =)

  13. LA McClure says:

    You are spot on, Abby! Great insight and share!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, LA! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Great post Abby! I especially love the “give yourself a reward ” part! I’m all about that! Lol. Can’t wait to check out the bundle, thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! I’m all about the rewards! 🙂 Have a great week, Esther!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Michelle (labmuffin) says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m feeling super overwhelmed right now and am doing some hardcore loafing around.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh girl, I know exactly how you feel! So glad the post was helpful!

      ~Abby =)

  16. This was a great read during a time when I’m feeling all these things! Thanks, Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Glad I’m not the only one who feels like this sometimes! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day, Kellen!

      ~Abby =)

  17. I just started reading you book Building A Framework from this book bundle (best decision ever). I’m loving your book so far vary helpful. Anyway love this post could not have come at a better time for me. Super excited to dive in to more of your post. Thanks for sharing your life.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Falon! And that you’re enjoying Building a Framework… Love to hear that! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  18. Stephanie Chrystal says:

    Great post Abby! I actually found it randomly on Pinterest and so many points hit home. I think the primary reason I’ve been procrastinating is that I’m burnt out. I keep putting myself in a cycle of not getting enough sleep to catch up and then draining myself. The part “if I’m not doing something to be productive or get ahead, I begin to feel guilty about it” is SO true for me and when feel the guilt I think I binge watch Netflix or HGTV to escape. Nice to know I’m not alone 🙂 Plus your point that by saying yes to one thing we’re saying no to something else — it’s important to keep our “yes” in line with our values. Keep up the awesome posts!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Stephanie! So glad it was helpful for you!

      ~Abby =)

  19. lorrin sell | photographer of wild things says:

    i am exactly the same way! when i get overwhelmed, i get completely unmotivated. i loved these tips. since, i’m feeling completely unmotivated, right now, i’m going to try some of these out! thanks!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Lorrin! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  20. This is good and so relatable. By the way, you look a lot like the actress Bitsie Tulloch 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! I’ve never heard that one, but I’ll take it! 🙂 Thanks so much, Shawna! Have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  21. Interesting post. I had a similar problem – both at work and at home. First I started using a simple paper calendar, regularly and in a very detailed way (I wrote down time for breaks, meals, phones to family and friends). It helped but keeping the calendar up-to-date was quite time-consuming. I tried the computer version called Kanban board – a calendar but with some extra elements that, I think, would be nice for you too, as for example task timing that is very easy there (https://kanbantool.com/support/time-tracking ). Nice to try, nice to stay with it for longer – personally I’ve been using it for more than a year. All the cummulative graphs definitely motivate me when I have a worse day 😉

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Paula! I’ll have to check it out! Have a great evening!

      ~Abby =)

  22. This was so helpful and made me feel 10 times better that i’m not the only one who does this! Ive been struggling with it more recently a lot more because I picked up a 2nd job, so my already limited extra time has dropped to next to nothing 🙁 Pretty much the only “free time” i have is in the car driving from one task to the next. loved the tips in this though! THANK YOU 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It is definitely challenging when you’re in those seasons that are so so busy. I can certainly relate to that. I’m glad these tips were helpful for you! Have a wonderful week, Casey!

      ~Abby =)

  23. Carmen Alonso says:

    Thank you, this really helped. I will defenatelly sign up for your newsletter!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Carmen!

      ~Abby =)

  24. This was a very INSIGHTFUL post! I’m definitely going to start following these tips especially since I have to study and blog. I think my biggest flaw is sleep way past 12 and not because of blogging and stuff but more like watching hours of dramas. My guilty pleasure. I think not sleeping at the correct time is really impacting my productivity.

    I’m definitely going to cut that down and get a good night rest 😀

  25. Bri Leichliter says:

    Hi Abby! Great article!

    I time myself relating to the exact same things that you explain in this article. I am currently working a 9-5, helping my husband run a chiropractic office and am starting my own process and procedure consulting business.

    I focus a lot of productivity myself through process and procedures, but focusing on the basic necessities is so critical! I often feel like I’m burning the wick at both ends so to speak. Thanks for an awesome post. I will certainly be pinning 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Bri! Have a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  26. Julie Briones says:

    Wonderful post, Abby (came over from your FB post today). REALLY great tips for me, as I am a super perfect procrastinator! 😉

    When you brought up bribes/rewards, I did a quick Google on the difference (because there is a difference… The Lord constantly promises/gives us rewards through Scripture… John 15:7 is one example of MANY). Here’s a great link I just found, too…

    https://alphamom.com/parenting/young-child/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-a-reward-and-a-bribe/

    I thought it was good. Thanks for this post! GREAT help!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Julie! I agree that there is a difference! Thanks for sharing that link! Happy Monday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  27. Hi,
    I enjoyed reading this post 🙂
    I always have felt guilt when I couldn’t be focused and be productive.
    As you mentioned too, I started to feel better and do better when I finally learned to let go of the to-do list and give myself a break sometimes 🙂
    Thank you SO much for sharing this blog post!

  28. Nice article. I tend to be a procrastinator and put off the not-so-fun items.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I think we can all struggle with that sometimes, Mel! It’s a process… just always getting a little better! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  29. Brilliant post Abby. I’m very quick to say yes to other people and to bump things others want done to the top of my to do list. But it makes it hard to get my own work done. Thanks for the reminder to take time for myself! 🙂 it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It really is! And so hard to say no sometimes! Glad it was helpful for you, Rachel! Have a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  30. I went through a long period of time like you just described. It was so frustrating! I ended up finding out part of my problem was I was pre-diabetic, which can effect your energy level and so much more. However, the other reasons you described were the same as mine. I love that book by Brian Tracy, one of my favs.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, so glad you got that all figured out, Jodi! Hope you’re having an awesome start to your week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  31. This is so relatable. Live your tip on bribing yourself!? All amazing advice. ❤️

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Ashley! Have an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  32. A Life Adjacent says:

    This is a fantastic post. Thank you! Already pinned. We can definitely relate to the guilt over self-imposed deadlines. Working on that!

    Also, loved the reminder to go back to your original “why”.. We wll definitely remember that going forward.

    And the timer is a great tip too. We use the “rule of 10” around here. If we’re not feeling particularly motivated, then simply doing 10 small tasks – even if one task is simply putting a piece of paper in the recycling bin -.can help jump start our motivation.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love the “rule of 10” idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

      ~Abby =)

  33. Thank you, Abby! This post is just wonderful and I really enjoyed reading it. You wrote this post in such a lovely and genuine manner! Now I recognize myself in those situations you describe, and my greatest problem is that I just can’t let go and try to do everything at the same time, and after a while, I just feel like burning out… Finally, I had to say no to some things.

  34. Thank you for this wonderful post! I really enjoyed reading it. You write in such a genuine and soulful manner. I’ve gone through a similar situation just some time ago, and it just really burned me out… Thank you for the reminding that we need to say no to sime thing in order to do the remaining — and probably more important — things properly.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Regina! So glad it was helpful. Have a great day! <3

      ~Abby =)

  35. Lauren Smith says:

    I can a hundred percent relate to this whole post!! I have enjoyed reading this post!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Lauren! Have a wonderful weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

  36. Brilliant post Abby! I’ve found out that breaking up the monotony of my daily routines really helps. Thanks for the great tips.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Christie! Have a wonderful weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

  37. Thanks so much for this post. I’m a lifestyle blogger in South Africa and I’ve been writing daily for over 7 years. Sadly I don’t see any of the financial success that you’ve shared as our target audience is much smaller than in the US. Lately I’ve been feeling really tired and demotivated. I sit at my desk for hours and then walk away hardly have accomplished anything on my To Do list! I really resonated with this post and I will definitely be trying a few of these tactics to help kickstart me back into action.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Kathryn! Wishing you all the best! <3

      ~Abby =)

  38. I love this article and especially the “going back to why” part. It’s very important to know the objective and the value of what we “have” to do.

  39. Hi Abby, thanks for this helpful and encouraging post. Last month my lovely mother died from a brief and unexpected battle with cancer. I feel completely unmotivated right now despite having 13,000 things to accomplish and many of them I still have to learn how to do!? You article reminds me that I can do anything I put my mind to especially with the help of my family and friends. (Starting counseling soon.) I also tell myself “The bills are paid, the cat and I have full stomachs and the house is still standing. It’s time for a nap!” Thanks again and God bless!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, Wendy. I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I’m glad that you are able to find so much positivity during this hard time. Sending so many hugs and prayers your way. <3

      ~Abby =)

  40. I love this post. I can so relate to all of it. When I find myself loosing my motivation and drive I quickly have to regroup and gain focus. Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Dawn! Have a wonderful weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

  41. What a terrific post. I really needed the reminder to declutter as well as feeling ok with not doing anything without the guilt.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Alicia! Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  42. Kayavocado says:

    I know this is really bad but I’m even too lazy to do the dishes right now so reading this was really helpful. About to pomodoro my way through thank you ??

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      SO glad it was helpful for you!! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  43. Teri Perrott says:

    This is a great post! I do try to get plenty of sleep and me time!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks for reading, Teri. Hope you have an awesome weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  44. Abby,
    Look how the Lord used your struggle with motivation to help others. This was a reread for me when I needed it – again. He used you, your talents, and your hard times for good. Isn’t He awesome?! May God continue to bless you and your family.
    In His Love and with a great big hug,
    Lynn

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      You are too sweet! I’m so glad it was helpful for you… love to hear that. Sending you hugs, friend! <3

      ~Abby =)

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