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July 7, 2024 5 mins

A listener asks how to stay motivated when the excitement of a project wears off

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning.
This is Laura, Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is about how to stay motivated when you feel
like you're in a slump. Motivations for any long project
can ebb and flow, especially in the middle. When your

initial enthusiasm wears off but the end is not yet
in sight, it can be tough to keep going. I
was reminded of this when I received a note from
a Before Breakfast listener who is currently earning her bachelor's
degree in accounting online. She's excited about the subject, and
she's proud of herself for making school fit into her life,

but she reported that she's running into motivation problems. Schoolwork,
she writes, seems to be an endless cycle. While each
new week covers a new topic, the formula is the same,
with the same sorts of quizzes and discussions in a
short project, with her work due at midnight each Sunday.
When I was in my first semester, she says, I
had heaps of motivation to be ahead of schedule. Now

I'm only in my second semester, but sixteen weeks of
the same formulaic assignment structure has kicked my motivation in
the stomach, she says. Instead of aiming to be a
head of school work, I found myself procrastinating into the
last minute, dreading work, and waiting until five pm the
night that work is due. This listener suspected that her
lack of motivation came from doing the same thing over

and over again each week, and she asked if I
had advice for dealing with her slump in a healthy way.
I do have some advice, and I suspect other listeners
will as well. My first question was whether it was
possible to take a short break. One of the upsides
of a traditional academic schedule is that you'd get a
break between semesters, either around the new year or over

the summer. This provides a break in the routine, gives
you the opportunity to do something different, and by the
time you return, you might be starting to miss school.
Many online programs, on the other hand, offer courses year round.
They assume reasonably that the adults availing themselves of these
programs want to get through and get done. But there's

still something to be said for breaks. Our listener might
consider trying to pace herself a bit as she goes
through her bachelor's degree program. Second, when you're deep in
the weeds, it can be easy to lose sight of
your why. Our listener, no doubt, had a very good
reason for choosing accounting and choosing to get a bachelor's degree.

So what was that reason? She can remind herself by
getting together with friends in the accounting profession, or going
to an accounting conference, or reading some literature related to
the topic. She can visualize herself in a few years
in her new career and what this degree is going
to enable. As for the day to day experience of
doing her work, there are a few things she can do.

She mentioned procrastinating until five pm on Sunday when the
work was due at midnight, but she didn't say that
she was ever late with her assignments or that she
didn't get them done, So potentially seven hours is in
fact a workable amount of time. She could simply accept
that this is what she'd like to do the work
for the remainder of this term. It's not an ideal solution,

as she could get sick, or have car trouble, or
have her plumbing spring a leek on Sunday night, and
then she'd be behind the class, but it is a solution.
On the other hand, if she's finding her procrastination stressful,
then she can use some of the strategies we talked
about a few months ago during our Procrastination Week. I
recommend scheduling in short work sessions most days and then

rewarding herself profusely when she finished. So, for instance, if
she's currently allocating seven hours on Sunday, she could do
one hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then maybe
two on Saturday, two on Sunday, or four on Sunday.
Either way, she could set a timer and once she's
done with her hour, she can do whatever she wants,
watch TV, surf the web, call a friend, cook something fabulous,

go out for ice cream. She also might want to
consider when she's doing the work. A lot of people
who are going back to school assume that the best
time for studying is in the evening after work. But
the problem is that we're tired. Then you've already done
so much it can be easy to think, well maybe tomorrow.
Most people have more discipline, energy and focus in the morning,

so maybe our listeners should try getting up in the
morning to work. Instead, studying from six thirty to seven
thirty or eight am three days a week would mean
she's approaching her work when mentally fresh, even if the
work is repetitive. If she's got a big cup of
coffee and she's spending one hour, not seven hours straight
on her work, it might feel more doable. Listeners, if

you've ever found yourself in a slump, what have you
done to pull yourself out? Please let me know your
advice for our listener at Before Breakfast podcast at iHeartMedia
dot com. In the meantime, this is Laura. Thanks for listening,
and here's to making the most of our time. Hey, everybody,

I'd love to hear from you. You can send me
your tips, your questions, or anything else. Just connect with
me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at Before Breakfast Pod
that's b E the number four then Breakfast pod. You
can also shoot me an email at Before Breakfast podcast
at iHeartMedia dot com. That Before Breakfast is spelled out

with all the letters. Thanks so much, should I look
forward to staying in touch. Before Breakfast is a production
of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio, app,
Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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