Sometimes, you can be utterly and truly in love with a project or a hobby. But, when it actually comes to reading that novel, writing that short story, baking that cake, you find that you can’t. It can feel as if there is a wall, between you and your favourite activity. You know in your mind that you adore doing what you do and that taking part in that hobby or activity boosts your satisfaction, but you seem physically unable to actually do it.
With reading, it’s called a reading slump. A term used when you just cannot seem to pick up your book, when your reading habit unconsciously goes from everyday to twice a week or once a month. But, what do we call it when it happens to other hobbies or projects? When you lose motivation to do the simplest of activities that bring you enjoyment.
The Background Behind This Discussion
I have had Depression for a while now and one of the symptoms of depression is a lack of motivation or interest in your favourite hobbies. I originally mistook this symptom for the common avid reader reading slump. Thinking my brain was tired of reading and wanting a break, I found I could not pick up a book for a while, and if I did, I could only read one or two pages.
However, it took me until my trip to the Harry Potter Studios in March to correctly define the issue I was having. A few weeks prior to my trip, I had conducted research into depression and even though the signs were here, there and everywhere, I couldn’t have Depression.
Now, many of my friends who had visited the Studios before me had commented on how magical and vibrant the atmosphere was, how the room vibrated with excitement and enthusiasm. But, when I arrived, it wasn’t like that. Of course, I looked around the swarm of people in the entrance lobby and saw goofy smiles and shaking bodies full of adrenaline and dopamine. Even my own father, a man who really could not care less about Harry Potter, was giddy with excitement. That feeling never hit me. I kept waiting and waiting, but it never came.
In fact, for the entire tour, I felt as if I was locked inside a glass globe. The water filling the room outside my sphere, but failing to crack the glass. For the entire day, I could not help but notice the void I appeared to be in. And the detachment grew more and more noticeable.
As a result of this detachment, I lost the motivation to do the things I love. Because, I could not feel the satisfaction, gratification and joy that typically came from doing my favourite things.This later affected my productivity, because how can I write that essay when I have no way to take a break and breathe? I struggled for a while, attempting to find something that would give me that much required relaxation after completing my college work.
I’m not saying that this detachment is exclusive to people with Depression, although it is one of the most common and noticeable symptoms. Millions of people find being productive difficult as it is, but when you take away the sense of achievement that someone would typically feel when being productive, it begins to feel pointless – and, of course, productivity is required to get through college, work, live in general.
Gaining Productivity and Motivation
From the moment I came to the above realisation, I wanted to combat it. I have aimed to find ways to gain motivation and be more productive – even when I struggle to feel the reward. Luckily, over the past few months I have picked up and utilized some habits that have helped me increase the amount of work I do, the energy I put into tasks and my organisation. Below are some tips/habit that have helped me, and I hope they can help you.
Invest in a weekly planner. Making a plan at the beginning of the week will help you organise everything you need to do and will allow you to allot a suitable amount of time to do them. It allows you to lay everything out, so you are not attempting to remember every single event of the week, leaving more room in your head for thinking and focusing. Also, if you build a routine you can move through the motions without blinking, making it easier to be productive as it will be on a scheduled basis.
You can create your own planner, use a bullet journal or just buy one. I bought mine on Not On The Highstreet, and use it to plot blog post deadlines, University reading and my work timetable.
Break tasks up into smaller parts. This is one I apply to both my blog and my University work. Every task is broken up into smaller, achievable parts, making the work far less daunting. Read this one chapter today and the next tomorrow. Draft a post on Monday, edit on Tuesday, gather and input images on Wednesday, complete final edits and presentation checks on Thursday, post on Friday. Breaking everything down into smaller parts allows you to relax and breath once you complete each stage.
Focus on the little things. Sometimes motivation comes from the smallest of things. Like, getting out of bed because you have a delicious breakfast waiting for you. Tidying your room because you like how clear your head feels afterwards. Writing a blog post because you can see how your writing is improving. Focusing on the little things that get you motivated can help you complete the larger tasks and motivate you to keep working harder.
Find your happy place. Mine is in my local Caffe Nero, sat in the booth at the back, coffee in hand, music playing. This is how I have completed a lot of my work since coming to University. Your happy place can be anywhere. Your local park or lake, the library, the bookshop, your back garden, or even your bedroom. Find somewhere that you find comfortable, somewhere that will allow you to focus on the work at hand or allow you to escape into your activity and out of your head.
Reward yourself. This may be the most essential tip.
If you do something productive, like writing that essay or reading that textbook, or doing that chore you really hate doing, always make sure to treat yourself. Some people treat themselves after completing each task and some people treat themselves on a scheduled basis. You pick the technique that suits you most. Personally, I like to treat myself while completing the task; for example, drinking my favourite coffee while consolidating my notes from class.
Learn to accept failure. Maybe “failure” isn’t the right word. But, sometimes you need to accept that doing nothing is not the end of the world. Not washing your dishes immediately after you use them is not a bad thing, just do them at the next available opportunity. If you really struggle to get out of bed one morning, that’s ok, there is always tomorrow.
Please, remember that you are always human. You may have days when your productivity levels are so high, you could write an entire essay; and you may have days where you don’t even brush your teeth, but you will also have many days in between. I hope that you have found these tips/habits useful, because they have helped me immensely over the past few months.
Have you got any other motivation boosters? Leave a comment down below!