Self-motivation is the factor that separates the most successful from the mediocre. More than skill or talent, the ability to start a task and keep at it even when you’d rather not is often the key factor that determines those who reach the top of their field. However, knowing this fact is not enough. No one functions at 100% each day. We are all human and we all have limits on how much of an unpleasant task we can perform before our interest wanes. Unfortunately, important tasks tend to come with some degree of unpleasantness. They either take a long time, require careful application of skill, collaboration with others you’d rather avoid or a combination of all three. This can create conditions where a person would rather not start a task because they feel the effort required is not worth the initial reward.
What do you do when you find yourself showing up at work but not being able to push yourself to complete tasks? As it turns out, quite a lot.
We live in an era of fast food, instant meals, same-day delivery, information overload and pressure to always stay connected. As a result, we are slowly losing our ability to be patient. According to research, 5% of mobile internet users will leave a webpage if it does not load within 3 seconds. We have come to expect everything immediately that when we have to wait just a few seconds, we lose interest and move on to something else.
As a personal productivity enthusiast, I genuinely believe people want to make better use of their time. I also believe everyone has goals they want to achieve. Yet a lot of people struggle with time management. Lately, I have been giving the matter a lot of thought and I have reached the conclusion that most people struggle with time management because
I remember in Junior Secondary School during assembly we often had to sing a song that began “Do your best and leave the rest.” I was tempted to attach a voice file of myself singing the full song. Luckily, saner heads have talked me out of it. That song got me thinking, in order to reach peak productivity, you need to first choose what to focus on, then give it your best, even when no one is watching.
Everyone is an expert at wishing for exactly what they want. The student who refuses to study until a day to the exam wishes for an A. The man who refuses to exercise wishes for a muscular figure. Some people go a step further to write down what they wish for. It’s called a New years’ resolution. After that, nothing changes because nothing happens.
For most people, what stops them from acting on their plans is not a lack of interest or a willingness to change. It is a lack of self-discipline. It takes great mental power to be able to say “No” to lying down at home instead of going to the gym.