How to Stay Motivated, Part 2: Don’t Make Stupid Plans

Have you ever sat down and told yourself, “I’m going to write an entire month’s worth of blog posts in one go!”

I have. And that’s where it always starts to go wrong.

success-kid-meme-generator-made-a-to-do-list-to-stop-procrastinating-didn-t-do-a-single-item-on-the-list-3fa90bAlthough I think setting lofty goals and making ambitious to-do lists can work for certain types of people, I’ve never found them to work for me. Instead, I seem physically incapable of making a to-do list that I can finish. If I put five items on it that seem eminently doable, I’ll go ahead and put five more on there, just to make it challenging. The end result is classic self-sabotage: I gave myself too many tasks; then I felt bad when I could not do them all.

Does this sound like you?

Here’s a truth about motivation that should be self-evident: You get motivated by success more than by failure. 


Every Day, Make a To-Do List with Just One (Simple) Thing On It.

For example, your to-do list could read: Write today. How does that sound? Doable? Good. There’s just one rule: When you finish, don’t add anything else to the list.

Why not? Because when you’re building a new habit, or stepping outside your comfort zone, and writing asks you to do both, you need to concentrate on one specific thing at a time. If you follow your writing to-do list with a bunch of other items, you risk blending writing in with doing laundry, running errands, and other forms of unimportant busywork. Your writing habit must stand out from the rest to stick.


How Do You Really Know Your Writing Habit Is Sticking?

Experts are divided on how long it takes for the average person to form a habit. Some say 21 days, some say 30, some say as long as 66 days. My advice is a cop-out: Do it for 21 days, then try to go a day without it. If that doesn’t feel funny to you, it’s not stuck yet.

But seriously, make shorter to-do lists. 

How do you feel about to-do lists? Share your experience in the comments.