It is true that it can be difficult to motivate yourself to work or complete tasks like drafting applications when you’re feeling like tapping out. You are not broken or a failure if you’re tired and struggling to motivate yourself to start typing. However, breaking through energy blocks is possible and is something that is important to learn as a general life skill, not just when it comes to drafting applications. A friend once told me about ‘the impossible task’ which is where you put off something so long that it becomes (seemingly) impossible.
The thought of completing the task then causes you so much anxiety that it doesn’t ever seem like you can get it done. When it comes to finding energy and motivation to complete it, often the solution lies in making the “impossible” task seem possible. Once it seems possible, you can then find ways to break it down to make it easy to digest and complete.
Contextualise the task
The task you are finding motivation to do should be contextualised to make it seem bearable. Why do you need to do it? What level of importance does it hold to other goals and things you have to achieve? What will happen if you don’t complete it? This is not meant to terrify you, but to help you place this task in the bigger picture of your goals and responsibilities. Individual tasks aren’t that major once you place them against the wider objectives you are pursuing. For example, if your big goal is becoming a practising tenant in a chambers, completing one individual application is a tiny element of your wider journey to become a barrister.
Break down the task into its constituent parts
The task you are set to complete should be broken down into smaller steps that are required to complete it. The old saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” can be helpful to remind us that even the biggest projects like planning an event or, bringing it back to the legal world, preparing a defence against a charge for a serious offence, are comprised of many smaller tasks. Once you have thought of how you can break the task down, you can plan how long it will take you to complete the smaller tasks. This is an effective way of making sure you get things done. You can space out your smaller tasks and make completing the whole thing less intimidating.
Commit yourself when it comes to getting the task done
When you’re trying to get something done, really commit yourself to getting it done. Watching Netflix whilst writing an application is not writing your application. You are wasting your own time at that point! I am a strong advocate of controlled, constructive procrastination. For example, I currently work 9-5 as a paralegal. I wake up at around 7am and am not home until around 6pm. I know I am going to need to relax before I start thinking about all the things I need to get done: editing and scheduling my Instagram content for the next day, planning and recording a video for LCN, drafting a pupillage application and so on. I allow myself a few hours to take my brain off things and relax. But I keep it controlled and constructive by ensuring that there is a clear time I will get back on it. I also make sure small things like dinner being made, the flat being tidy and laundry being done are completed so there is nothing left to distract me.
If you want some inspiration for staying focused whilst completing tasks, check out this post where I discuss the different apps I used (and still use) to stay focused and productive whilst I was on the BPTC.
The last tip is to plan your tasks ahead and give yourself plenty of time to procrastinate, be demotivated but ultimately get over all of that and boss it. If you are starting something with an imminent deadline, then you don’t have this luxury. However, if you have plenty of time before it needs to be completed then setting out a rough plan of how long it will take to complete and how much energy you’ll need to put in at regular intervals will really help you stay motivated to finish the task. This is because you will be able to see the bigger picture and hopefully avoid the impossible task.
As always, good luck with whatever it is you are trying to complete. Take care of yourself and be fair to yourself too. You don’t always have to suffer for success and be sure to congratulate yourself in whatever way you see fit when you’re done. Every win deserves to be celebrated, no matter how small. You can always find a way to finish your impossible task.
Until next time,