Do you want to know how to keep up momentum and stay motivated to meet your goals this year? Do you have some big home projects you want to tackle? Or maybe just a bunch of little things you’ve put off that you finally want to get done?
How amazing would your home feel this year if you were making progress and checking things off the list?
There’s a lot of buzz every January about resolutions, goals, and plans, but not as much talk about follow-through. The best goal-setting and planning techniques in the world don’t get you to the finish line. You have to put forth the effort to make your dreams a reality.
What if you knew exactly which projects to focus on and how to keep up the momentum until they’re done? This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on just that. Catch up on Part 1 here.
In my book Project Home, I teach the easy way to prioritize and plan your home projects so you can get more done around the house. Right here and now, I’m going to load you up with my favorite ways to stay motivated.
11 Ways to Get Motivated and Build Momentum for Any Project
Remember the Pinterest Princess, Betty Blogger, and Nancy Neighbor from Part 1 who seem to get it all done while your to-do list keeps getting longer and longer?
- First, know that they aren’t getting it all done.
- Second, know that they are doing some or all of the 11 things below to get more done than most people.
Their secret to getting it all done is knowing how to get the most important things done. These strategies will help you do the same.
1. Pencil It In
Nothing is more de-motivating than feeling like you don’t have enough time. For the projects you really want to complete, you need to find the time. Book an appointment with yourself to get the project started.
There’s nothing wrong with starting a project spontaneously, but when the spontaneity wears off you’ll be glad you penciled in time to focus on the project. Guard that time like you would any other important appointment on your calendar.
2. Rinse and Repeat
You need to make project time a habit. On Saturday mornings, one hour on Wednesday evening…whatever works for you. It’s like a regular date night in a long-term monogamous relationship…every Saturday night guaranteed with three backup babysitters on call (a girl can dream, right?).
Seriously, make planning and executing home projects a habit. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes a week, you should get started. If you wait to have all the time you need, you will never get anywhere.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
Once you start seeing how much you can accomplish with regular devoted time, you will be more motivated to continue.
Making it a habit is also very important for the mundane tasks you don’t want to do, but need to do. The daunting task of replacing burnt out lightbulbs or cleaning out the pantry will be less overwhelming, if you have the time set aside.
3. Set Attainable and Specific Goals
Be very clear about what you want to do and set realistic goals. Two things are key here for staying motivated; clarity and attainability. Your confidence will skyrocket, if you know exactly what you want to do and you’re realistic about what it will take to get it done. (Pssst. I’ve got a super easy, and nerdy fun, 4-step process for figuring out which project you should do next, and after that, and after that. Learn it inside Décorography.)
4. Keep Inspiration Front and Center
Are you dreaming of tearing down that wall between your kitchen and living room? Tape an inspiration picture right on the wall as a daily reminder. Every time you see it, it will remind you of the bigger picture and inspire you to plan and save to make that project happen. It’s sort of like taping a picture of yourself 20 lbs ago to your bathroom mirror when you want to lose weight. Imagery and reminders are very powerful motivators.
5. Remove Distractions or At Least Don’t Compete With Them
You know the struggle when you are trying to get something done and a little one is tugging at your shirt tails? Sometimes you just need to arrange for childcare or a babysitter to get focused project time. It’s tough, but necessary to get things done.
If you’re looking for your spouse to help, don’t battle with their prior commitments. If your hubby is a football fan, don’t plan to do a project, or expect his help, during Sunday’s big game. Battling his distraction is more likely to hinder than help the project.
6. Get Your Resources in Order
When you do have precious time to tackle a project, make sure you are ready to go. My number one motivation killer, mostly in the winter, is discovering I need to run to the hardware store for something tiny like screws and I am stuck without them. Make sure you have the tools and supplies you need on hand when project time rolls around. This might mean using one chunk of work time to gather supplies, and waiting for the next time to actually start the project.
7. Make a Plan
Make a schedule, write out goals, create a mood board…whatever kind of plan speaks to you. Having a plan makes everything feel more do-able. Write it down. Refer to it. Tweak it as you go.
A plan is a tool. At the beginning of the project it describes how you are going to get from point A to point B. During the project it helps you measure how far you are from point B, and helps you get back on course if you accidentally end up at point C. And when you get to point B it tells you how well you did.
(Pssst. Can you tell I love project management…every personality and career placement test I’ve ever taken says I should be one, and I was for over 7 years. All that to say, I know a thing or two about making a plan and I am sharing the nitty-gritty but necessary stuff, like how to make a schedule and budget in Project Home, so you can stay on time and under budget…and get more done.)
8. Share Your Plan
Tell the people closest to you what you’re working on. Share with friends and family that support and encourage you. Share for accountability.
I do lots of projects, but when I am feeling un-motivated to complete something, I tell someone about it. I tell my hubby, my mom, or my sister. Something about putting it out there makes me more motivated to get it done, because I feel accountable. I want to go back to whoever I told and show them I got it done.
9. Celebrate the Little Things Often
Set interim goals to help track project progress and make sure to celebrate each mini-milestone reached. This is especially important for larger projects, but also works on smaller projects.
On a small furniture painting project, I might hold off on eating lunch until I get the piece primed. Once it’s primed, I celebrate with a lunch break. Afterward, I find myself more motivated to do the next step.
On larger projects the milestones might take longer to reach, but celebrating them is also sweeter. I remember the night we celebrated the new flooring in our basement. We had someone install the carpet, but I installed the cork flooring. The night it was all done, we went down as a family and rolled around on the floor…literally. We enjoyed the cushion-y softness of the carpet and let the boys run around for the first time without worrying they’d scrape their knees on concrete. That’s how we celebrated.
They don’t have to be big, but celebrations along the way help keep up momentum.
10. In a World of Instant Gratification…Hold Out
Celebrating interim goals is a must, but sometimes you have to hold back the really good stuff to make sure you don’t skip over the hard, not-so-fun stuff. To keep up momentum and stamina through less glamorous parts of a project, delay the fun stuff.
For example, on a complete room makeover that requires new flooring and painting the walls, it’s easy to get distracted shopping for accessories…you know, for when the room is done.
Instead use the fun stuff, like buying accessories for the room, as your prize for getting the other stuff done. Don’t let yourself do the fun stuff until you’ve reached a specific milestone or completed other critical tasks.
11. Visualize the Finished Project
While your holding out for the fun finishing touches, it’s important to take a step back every once in a while and remember the big picture. Take a moment to visualize the finished space. Do this regularly until you can actually see the finished project before you.
As we worked on our basement finishing, we did periodic walk-throughs. When it was just framed, we walked through and imagined where all the furniture would go. When the drywall was in we walked through and daydreamed about flooring, window treatments, and painting. Each walk-through was so simple, but so powerful.
Imagining the finished space kept us engaged and thirsty for the next step.
Next week, in Part 3 of this series, we’re going to talk about the last way to reduce project fails…project planning. There are six things you need to do to plan a do-able project—the kind you can finish the way you want, when you want, and on your budget.