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  • Writer's pictureRayla Elkey

How to be productive when you're not feeling motivated

"How do you do it?" I get this question a lot because well...I...

  • am a full time graduate student (3.98 GPA 😉)

  • have 15+ clients

  • Maintain a pretty active Facebook Group/Discord/Tiktok

  • Teach 19K+ Mentoring Students

…and yet...I still manage to have dinner with my family, take weekends off, get 8 hours of sleep and not survive off of coffee.

So how do I do it?

The short answer is really a mixture of 3 things that I had to learn the hard way that I'm going to share with you so you don't have to.

1. I stopped relying on Motivation.

It's untrustworthy, unstable and irregular. I don't care who you are. You aren't always going to be motivated to do things even if you really love them or need to get them done.

Anyone who says that they are always 100% personally motivated to do everything on their to-do list every day, needs to send me whatever drug it is that they are on because....I am not.

I am not always motivated to wake up at 6:00 AM, get my work done, read my chapters, workout or sometimes even leave my house to go for a walk.

But....that doesn't mean that I don't do those things. Instead, I started thinking of my motivation as a nice little boost to get things done rather than the whole fuel behind the rocket. Instead, I had to develop discipline.

I know what you're thinking...discipline means doing everything that you don't want to do.

But in reality, it is finding the fine line between doing what needs to be done and doing it in a way that allows you to listen to your own body. Hence my next point...

2. I started making a WEEKLY to-do list.

Stay with me on this one because I really swear by this method. It truly changed the way that I look at to-do lists and how I get things done. I used to make a to-do list every time that I had a really busy day. It would be this long and daunting piece of paper that haunted me all day. The worst part was that I would make these lists after I had been neglecting things for days, so my to-do list ended up being WAY more than I could get done.

So....(and I'm sure we all know this feeling) the end of the day there would still be things on that list and I would feel like a total failure.

Instead, I decided to give myself some more leeway to be human.

For me, that meant treating my entire life like an online college course. In online college, you get told all of your assignments for the week ahead of time and it's usually all due at the end of the week at midnight.


Why? Because I can afford to get a migraine on a Tuesday and still get everything done.

So, I started making a weekly list of everything that needs to be done. I count everything up and divide by 5 to get how many tasks I need to do each day. (I do 5 because I take my weekends OFF.)

The specific tasks that I do depend on my mood, time that I have and other factors but I have to do that number by the end of the day. If I do more, then I end my week early 🎉

The great thing about this is that I never really have to do more than about 6-7 tasks per day and some of them are as small as checking my student email or creating a new Instagram story for a client.

I do all of this so that by Friday, I'm done with everything and can enjoy my weekend. This leads me to my last point.

3. I started separating my work from my life.

Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. I love working with my clients and watching their businesses grow, but I have come to the realization that it's important to differentiate between the two.

My work is not my life.

That means that I have other priorities outside of my business and that is okay.

It doesn't make me any less of a hard worker, valuable part of any team or a strong business owner.

All that it means is that I don't plan my life around my work. If you do so, you are making decisions that lead yourself to mush the two together.

Instead, I plan my work around my life. That means that when I create my schedule for the day, I put in my non-negotiable life events first and then plan my work around those.

For me, that's

  • having dinner with my family

  • eating lunch (and not working through it)

  • having a cup of coffee outside in the morning (at least twice a week)

  • working out

  • spending 1:1 time with my baby sister and each of my pets

  • virtual date nights with my soon-to-be-husband 3 nights a week

For someone else maybe that's taking their dog on a walk or putting their kids to bed.

It's perfectly okay to have priorities outside the fact it's human.

So there it is!

That's how I do it. That is how I stay productive when I am not motivated.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Do you have any other tips for how to stay on top of things without going crazy?

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