As we are approaching the cold, brutal, winter months, it is crucial for many of us to buckle down and stay motivated enough to achieve our goals. No matter how much you want to curl up into bed with a mug of hot cocoa and binge-watch your favorite Netflix show, there is a time and a place...and that time and place is after you have checked off every item on your to-do list. Being a natural born-procrastinator, it’s often hard for me to stay on top of everything I need to do, but these tips have been getting me through it.

  1. Set a list of goals. If you don’t have any, think of some. A goal doesn’t have to be as big as “become a hip-hop star”. It can be, but you can also start small, as small as “finish 5 job applications by next week”. As long as you are keeping specific small goals for short time periods, you won’t be as easily discouraged.
  2. Once you have a few goals, stick to them. Constantly be reminded of them. I used to always write notes on my phone of my goals, but I realized that it was ineffective since it got hidden on the app, so I only had to look at it when I felt like it--never. Put them somewhere you will see them every day. Write them in journals, on notepads, on sticky-notes, any surface you can find. It helps to hand-write them; studies have shown writing engages our brains more effectively than typing. Set them as your phone background, whatever you have to do. I keep sticky-notes on my mirror and in my laptop reminding me of my goals, and this way there is no escaping them.
  3. Try to visualize yourself reaching your goals. For example, if your goal is to finish all of your homework, then visualize yourself in bed by nine pm, waking up in the morning fully rested, and getting a high score on the assignment that you worked hard on. If your goal is to complete college applications and supplements, visualize yourself receiving and holding an acceptance letter to the school whose application you spent extra time perfecting. Seeing really is believing sometimes, and you can make these visions reality simply by getting up and chasing after them.
  4. As far as actually getting up, being productive, and staying that way, try to think about it in a different way. This is how I view it: every single thing that I choose to do, whether it is going out with friends, doing homework, completing a chore, or going to work, is beginning to define and shape who I am becoming as a person. Thinking about it like this may help you change how you spend your time. I can binge-watch as much Netflix as I want on a weekend, but at the end of the day, it is not really furthering me in pursuit of my goals. I don’t feel like I am progressing as a person. Yes, it is absolutely important to take time to rest and relax when you have free time from the hecticness that comes throughout the week, but this time can definitely be limited. I value my free time so much more now. Rather than putting it into rewatching season 2 of The Office, I can put it into doing things I am more passionate about, and you can too.
  5. As for small daily assignments that you may be faced with, you can easily get these done! When I am faced with a small chore such as cleaning my room, I can huff and puff about this all I want. I can procrastinate, throw a tantrum, complain to myself, but I’m just wasting my time. Completing this small assignment will ultimately just get me farther in life, because once I clean my room, I can continue on with my day. If a small task that won’t take you very long is getting in the way of your day, just do it. Put all of your focus into it. I often turn off my phone, play some music, then quickly complete said task.
  6. Once it hits you how much faster you can get these small tasks done, it will hit you how much more you can get from your day. Sure, you can lie in bed all day, and the day will pass you by so much faster; before you know it it’s time to go to sleep when you realize you haven’t done anything productive today. But if you focus your day on doing more from the second you wake up, the day will feel longer. You can go to bed early, wake up early, and get your next day started with just as much productivity. Time is valuable, irreplaceable. Don’t waste it.
  7. Don’t compete with others--compete with yourself. I used to think it was a good motivation tool to compete with someone else, but it really isn’t; it’s discouraging at best. Instead, compete with yourself, challenge yourself to be a better person than you were yesterday. A friend once told me this, and it hit me hard. Every day you wake up and are faced with the chance to better yourself. Who I am right now is someone different than who I was yesterday, and completely different than who I was six months ago. Ask yourself every day: what can I do to make myself a better person than I was yesterday?

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