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Q& A Tuesday: How do you get motivated every day?

Today’s Q&A comes from Rachel of Small Notebook, one of my favorite blogs (and fellow bloggers).  She’s a mom of an adorable little girl – with another one on the way – and her words are succinct, meaty, and punched with meaning.  If you don’t already read her blog, you should.

Rachel’s question is a great one, and I can’t wait to read your answers:

How do you motivate yourself to get going and accomplish your daily tasks when you just don’t feel like it?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  What’s your mantra and modus operandi for motivation?

top photo source

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Blogging what I am about to do is a good one! Forces me to post an update later 😉

    Renia´s last blog post…Untangling Tangles

  2. Having a JUST DO It mantra and a to-do-list will see me through. Blogging does help also.

    Dominique´s last blog post…Many Faces of Roy

  3. I get great satisfaction over checking off items on my To Do list so I write it on a big dry erase board and cross things off as I accomplish them. If I know I’m having a Lazy Day (or Week), I prune the list down to the bare essentials and save my “favorite” chore for last.

    Lately, my mantra has been some variation of “No one’s going to do it for you.” Not exactly inspiring, but this is the time of year I get fed up with doing the same thing over and over and over again so I need a gentle reminder that if I don’t wash the dishes/vacuum the floor/put away the clothes/make dinner/change the poopy diaper/update the budget those jobs won’t get done.

    Joanna´s last blog post…Dax Man Grows

  4. Well when I dont feel like doing anything other than sitting down with a cup of coffee then I will tell myself before you can have a cup of coffee you must do..X X and X before that cup of coffee.
    Or if we are watching our favorite show American Idol then I will tell everyone that when the commercial comes on then must get up and do soemthing chore related. You would be amazed at what you can get done in the two minutes commericals.
    Ex. wash a dish , start a load of laundry, vaccum a room, pick up a room and with everyone helping the house is clean in the amount of time it took the show to air.

    Christine´s last blog post…Thought Provoking

  5. I was actually hoping someone would ask this question! because just recently ive found the answer to my de-motivated feeling i was always having!! My answer is…. Put on the sneakers! (the running shoes). I know that sounds weird but it actually helps me get going. When i wear my sneakers i feel a bounce in my step and i actually FEEL like doing things! esp cleaning and organizing!! I only found it out about 2 months ago, and even now im sitting here in my sneakers, because when i wear them i feel great and VERY MOTIVATED!!! crazy huh!!
    i hope this helps you too!

    amy salinger´s last blog post…feather painted birds…

    • Yep, the running shoes are a must around here!
      I also put on upbeat praise music when I am really unmotivated.
      I like some the ideas I’ve read thus far! Like not being able to have coffee until x, x, or x is done. Coffee always motivates me!! LOL

      Christin´s last blog post…Back to Blogging

  6. I’m all for being mindful and present when doing even the most mundane tasks but there are some days that yes, you just don’t feel like it. Those days I get out the pen and paper write out the to dos for that day and then make a game of it to see how quickly you can get it all done.

    Typically, I get on a roll and end up accomplishing a lot more than I didn’t want to do in the first place 🙂 I like amy salinger’s suggestion of the sneakers! I think I may try that one next time too. There is something about putting on runners that makes you want to move it!

    Sherri (Serene Journey)´s last blog post…We’re On A Mission: Our Posting Schedule

  7. My favorite technique is to use a kitchen timer. I set it for a certain amount of time 15 min, 30min, 1 hr (whatever is needed) and then I focus on the tasks at hand while it’s counting down…I almost always make a “deal” with myself that when the timer goes off I can stop cold turkey and do something enjoyable. Sometimes the task becomes enjoyable and I keep plugging along even after the beep 🙂

    Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog post…Rekindling Parts Of Yourself

  8. I try to avoid this feeling at all costs. The way I do that is by starting my day well. If I can start well it means a MUCH more productive day for me.

    If I can’t avoid feeling that way then I just try to motivate myself to start. Once things start getting accomplished it’s motivating in itself.

    I love Rachel’s blog too!

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post…Planning For Easter

  9. well, seeing as it’s 8:15 and i’m just now getting moving..this day is probably not the best one to comment. but, on better days, i try to get some time to read my Bible and to read some inspiring blogs before i move forward.

    on the days when my spirit is just down and i can’t seem to move forward, i sit and try to think about what’s true about my life. i try to think about the things i have to be grateful for and to pray for those who are in very hard situations right now. this usually helps get me moving.

    and if that doesn’t do it, i usually try to dream up some nice way to serve my husband, kiddo or friend and get right to it. usually doing something out of the ordinary for someone else brings my spirits back up and makes me want to keep moving.

    i’m blogging about how the Bible isn’t an idiot’s guide today:

    Nicole´s last blog post…Not so Much an ‘Idiot’s Guide’

  10. First of all, I make a list of everything I have to get done. Secondly, I set a mental goal for myself of when I plan to have my tasks completed. Thirdly, I remind myself of the feeling of accomplishment that I will feel once I’m done. Lastly, I get started and get done.

    I find that by following these steps, I am more organized and therefore, I stay more focused and usually get the job done more quickly.

    Amanda´s last blog post…Cure “Cooker’s Block” Once and for All

  11. I usually only have to remind myself how much better being productive feels. I’m hardly ever sorry I played with my daughter or cleaned up the house a bit or went for a run, but more often than not if I “waste” a day lying around it feels like I missed out on something at the end of it.

  12. I like the timer idea. Also, I find I sometimes have to just turn off the TV and shut the laptop lid… and promise myself I won’t go on the internet or turn on the TV until a specified amount of time…. then I get up and get going. Usually I end up just not bothering going back to them the rest of the day, because as someone else mentioned above, being productive is so much more enjoyable than sitting around!

    Beth´s last blog post…The Big Reveal

  13. I really enjoyed the tip you shared before: complete the most difficult (or least fun) task FIRST. This motivates me to go ahead and finish the task, and then I don’t have that ugly nagging feeling anymore. I also do my best work when I set a kitchen timer for 15 or 30 minutes…I usually go over the time limit, but the thought that I CAN stop after the set time motivates me to go ahead and get started.

  14. ha! That’s a great question and one that I’m struggling with so I’m looking forward to seeing other people’s response…

    Tabitha – From Single to Married´s last blog post…Washington DC – Jefferson Memorial

  15. I am with the kitchen timer gals! I always have a to-do list, but somedays I would just rather be online or just sit with my coffee and watch the kids play. When I set my timer and go like crazy, I get so much done. A reward at the end of the time or after checking off so much of my to-do lists motivates me too.

    Marci´s last blog post…Busyness vs. fruitfulness

  16. Just as I must eat new meals everyday, I must daily ingest and digest new truths and new ideas. If it starts to feel repetitive, it is time to learn how to make a new dish. If I don’t know any new dishes, it is time for me to travel to another country… or meet a new person… or discover a new author, or musician, or artist. Keeping your heart stirred. Sometimes having a hero will really help- read a biography, or watch a film about someone who did great things.

    tacy´s last blog post…Snowstorm and Our Burrito

  17. I use my computer calendar program to organize everything from chores and food, to fun stuff like blog entry ideas and crafts I want to try. Deleting those items, or moving them around depending on the week, helps me to stay organized (and helps me remember what day of the week it is!!!). I am thrilled by things well organized, so that helps. And the days when this flops, or the weeks when it doesn’t go smoothly – well, there’s always tomorrow!

    Leah´s last blog post…My friend Twiggy … and the signs of life!

  18. I used to struggle with this so much! I highly recommend the book “Getting Things Done,” which really helped me learn how to plow through tasks that used to go undone for weeks.

    My quick tip is that I set a deadline for myself. I find I’m a lot more likely to find the motivation if I feel there is a “due date” for any given project.

    Great question!

    Monica´s last blog post…new series: mannequin mondays

  19. I am going to try the timer idea…great tip.

    But to put a shout out to simple mom, I have been using her daily docket. It has become a helpful tool to get through my day.


    Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet´s last blog post…Looking for save money with your friends? Try swaps.

  20. coffee, put on my sneakers and just GO. Start doing what needs to be done. If I try to plan it, then I end up thinking about it too much and nothing ever happens or I put too much on my list and things just get carried from one day to the next (as life happens). So, most of the time, I just go from room to room and start doing whatever needs to get done. There is always something.

    One thing that my sister and I have started doing is to pick a morning where we take care of one another’s kids. I take my two over to her house (since she lives near me), then come back home and clean like mad for 3 hours. I only have a short amount of time, but it goes SO much faster without kids in the house. It’s amazing how much I can get done. So, when that day is approaching, I make an extra effort to keep toys, etc picked up so I can do more deep cleaning when the kids are gone.

    MB´s last blog post…Blueberry Muffins (dairy & egg free)

  21. Since I hate the feeling of chores piling up or life becoming disorganized I am usually motivated enough to keep going. I make sure to schedule “me time” into my days, even if it isn’t until 8-10 pm. This encourages me to work diligently during the day and know that I will have time to read, plan, exercise, later on. When my kids were younger I’d schedule myself a 30 minute coffee & reading break into my early afternoon and I’d force myself to use it rather than doing chores in this time. I SERIOUSLY think it is imortant to remember to care for ourselves well and then I think we naturally have more energy and enthusiasm for the more mundane tasks in life.

  22. I make a deal with myself and say that I just have to do (5) things. (This number may change depending on how I’m feeling!) I reason that I can do something fun (like read blogs) when I accomplish those 5 things.

    I’ve done the timer thing, but had forgotten about it…that’s a great way. Thanks for the reminder!

    And I’d like to second the shout-out to Simple Mom and her Daily Docket. I find myself choosing MIT’s that I’m most likely to procrastinate…and by making them a MIT, I’ve sealed my fate–I *have * to do them! ; )

    Kirwin´s last blog post…Edit, Add, Appreciate (a day late)

  23. Motivation is always an issue. The internet…or the “time machine” as my dh calls it…beckons way too often. I try my best to adhere to the old “Grandma’s Rule”…that is, getting through the things I HAVE to do and THEN getting to the fun stuff. If I know I have a good book to look forward to when I finish cleaning the kitchen for instance, it motivates me to get through that task and on to the good stuff!

    Pattie´s last blog post…Disney World Trip – Post #3 – Glasses….3D & Otherwise

  24. Instead of having a paper to-do list each day, I’ve framed mine in a cute frame with a pretty colored matting and then use a dry erase marker to fill it in and check it off.

    There is something about they joy of dry erase markers that makes it all a little more fun. Plus! I don’t seem to loose my list anymore since it’s framed and sitting on the counter. : )

    • That is a GREAT idea, Marissa! I am off to Hobby Lobby tomorrow to see if I can get a frame! It’s one of those, “why didn’t I think of that before it’s so easy and fabulous!”

  25. I tell myself to “swallow the frog” and do the thing I hate the most right at first.

    I make sure I get myself a good breakfast and a little time to do something I love even before that so I feel positive about the day.

    I take short breaks every now and then and do something I love; like reading a few pages in a book, or listening to a song, or reading a blog post, etc.

    At the end of it all, I make sure to never beat myself up for not getting everything done.

    My daily recipe has really made a difference for me.

  26. lately this has been hard, geting motivated and keeping on task. if i can get up early enough when the house is quiet and have a little time to do my bible study and write in my journal i’m able to keep on task easier. of course with this time change it’s dark until after 6:30 and i have a hard time just motivating myself to get up.

    Amy N´s last blog post…Dear Grandparents,

  27. Do the next thing.

    No matter what it is, big or small. I try to avoid looking at my entire “to do” list or even glancing around the house at what I think “needs” to be done in its entirely – but instead, just look straight ahead & DO THE NEXT THING.

    And if I don’t get it done in the time I was hoping or the day or the week – then so be it. Just start again tomorrow!

  28. I find that if I take 10 minutes to work on a project, no matter how unappealing, it often helps fuel my motivation for the rest of the day.

    Often it’s the “idea” of what has to be done, not the task itself, that is overwhelming.

  29. I’m a cronic “organized pile” maker and there they sit for days all nice and organized, but not put away. So while I was on maternity leave, I came up with a quick clean method. I start at one end of a room, going through each thing and putting it away where it goes before I move on to the next one and then come right back to where I left off. It’s amazing how fast it goes, things are put away and you can then move on to things you really want to do that much quicker! Now that I’m back to work, it’s that much more motivating so I can spend more time with my girls doing fun things!

  30. I try to keep myself accountable. Blogging about what I do (like Renia above suggested) is a great way to get something done.

    Crossing things off a list is very satisfying…that definitely motivates me. Rewards help also, like getting to read a novel or eat ice cream if I got a lot done. 🙂

    My last point is about getting up early! If I get up on time and get up early, I find that I am much more energized to accomplish things that day.

    Sarah H.´s last blog post…Meal Plan Mondays: 3-9-09

  31. I’ve found lately that by starting the day out with a walk that I feel more energetic and motivated to have a productive day. Just having 20-30 minutes to clear my head and get my thoughts together for the day seems to make all the difference in the world. The kids seem to enjoy it too!

    Rebecca´s last blog post…Feb 23, Disney Cars Room Theme – Decorating a Room With Disney Pixar Cars

  32. The to do list tells me what to do, but the problem is getting started, right?

    What works for me is having an out of house activity scheduled in the morning. If I know we have to be at playgroup, the pool, or storytime at 10:00, then that motivates me to get the housework done before we have to get out the door. I also save my computer time until naptime.

    Alissa´s last blog post…Winners!

  33. I think about what the purpose of what is on my to do list to try to get motivated. I clean my house because I want my kids, my husband and myself, to live in a clean uncluttered environment and feel loved and cared for. When I have no desire to clean I think about the reason I am doing it to give me motivation. That, and promising myself I just have to do it for 15 minutes, and set my timer if need be, and usually by the time the timer goes off I am ready to keep going because now momentum is carrying me forward. (Learned that last part from FLYlady, so thank you FLYlady!)

    Taylor at Household Management 101´s last blog post…Mar 6, Subscribe To My Site For Free Through Email Of With Feedburner

  34. My new favorite movie is the movie Fireproof. (don’t worry, I have a point I’m getting to) One of the phrases in the movie is, “You gotta’ lead your heart.” It sounds contrary to what you usually hear which is to follow your heart. So often, we act off of feelings and let our heart lead us. But feelings can change, so instead, we need to lead our hearts. (and I thank my sweet husband for bringing that concept out to me after watching the movie) Another cliche phrase that has helped me is, “When you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do.” There are some things that I have to do whether I feel like it or not. I often find that if I just get up and get going on what needs to be done, then my feelings follow soon after.

    Keri´s last blog post…Overheard

  35. The biggest issue I’m having lately with staying motivated is just flat being overwhelmed. I’m finding that having a list and just giving myself even five minutes to monitor, adjust, and write out the most important things I have to do in the next say, 5 minutes help to push that unmotivated feeling away…at least until the next crisis hits, lol… (Great question!!)

  36. I try to remember these two tiny pieces of advice:
    from my aunt… do things as you see them – don’t wait
    from my mom… just keep moving!!

    alexandra´s last blog post…sunshine and soul

  37. Coffee!!

  38. I put on some fast dance music and just get moving. Starting is the hardest part but once I’m in the groove I’m good to go!

    Org Junkie´s last blog post…Most Organized Mom

  39. Somedays I “just can’t.” On those days I remember that line, “Do the next thing.” So, I fling my list because usually when I “just can’t” it means I’m feeling too overwhelmed to cope with the big picture. So, I focus ONLY on the next thing, then the next thing after that. I live with chronic pain and sometimes I am reduced to the reality that the next thing is just the next stop on the way to the front door, then another step. I find the feeling of “just can’t” passes after a little while of just doing the next thing. I feel oddly refreshed after a bit.

    LeeAnn´s last blog post…Tarot Thursday

  40. 1. Knowing that starting is the hardest part. Once I start, I usually finish pretty quickly.

    2. Knowing that when I get finished, I will have a real sense of accomplishment.

    Iva´s last blog post…New Word Sunday: Tenacity

  41. BW Texas says:

    I try to stay focused on the task, not on feelings. I also focus on scripture regarding perseverance and it always brings to mind:
    I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

  42. When I exercise, read my Bible, shower, and get dressed, it motivates me, and gives me energy and helps me do ALL the things I don’t want to do, but have to get done:)

    But, sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack. My husband reminds me that sometimes my To-do list is just tooooooo long!!!!!

    Nikki´s last blog post…Can You Guess?

  43. I find the MITs very motivating. And usually once I get those three crossed off I can usually get motivated to do more. But knowing that I *have* to do the MITs gets me motivated to at least have those crossed off by the end of the day.

    Amanda´s last blog post…Beautiful Day!

  44. Lists. Chocolate. Pilates. Slower start.

    Jendi´s last blog post…Who’s Driving a Locomotive?

  45. I have a cute apron that I wear. One for cleaning, one for cooking, one for picking up around the house…

    whitney´s last blog post…Today I am…

  46. Don’t turn on the laptop first thing in the morning! 😀

  47. leaving the computer off helps as i find it really distracting!
    I found setting my oven timer for 15 min then having a five min break helped me get motivated with house work. In an hour you end up doing 45 min so you can get quite a bit of cleaning done!
    Now that university is back i am struggling! I have dry, folded washing and wet waiting to be hung washing all on my landry table as i type but my 6 month old is napping so i need to study but study involves computer. Turning on of the computer leads to email checking and blog reading!

  48. I find if I can find one small goal to begin with, I am much less reluctant to begin. When my whole house is a mess, I begin with my kitchen sink and my bathroom. If those two areas are clean, the rest no longer seems so over-whelming.

    Julie´s last blog post…Alien Mama

  49. this will sound awful but it works for me. i have a hard time doing things for myself, i have no idea why. it’s not that i don’t love myself or have self-respect. i’ll have to ask a therapist one day. i’m motivated by my husband. if i’ve just gotten up at noon and my husband will be home at 2 (today) i don’t want him to know i’ve just gotten up. when my husband stayed home he was a fantastic housekeeper. he’s my standard i have to live up to.

  50. I always start with something real small that will only take a couple of minutes. Another thing that works for me it to make a list and put on there a couple of things that I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off. Once I have that sense of accomplishment, it generates some momentum.

    Amanda´s last blog post…Financial Friday

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