Happy January and welcome to lockdown 3.0! I know a lot of people have been pinning their hopes on 2021 for a return to life as we normally know it, but unfortunately, we’re not there yet. With the UK and many other countries in lockdown, we find ourselves once more cooks, teachers, trainers, therapists and motivators – all while trying to run a business from home.

Many of my clients are struggling with the motivation to move forward and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today. This time around is especially challenging because not only are we coming off the back of an indulgent and lazy Christmas period (I took two weeks off to do nothing but cook, eat and watch Netflix), but it is also cold and inhospitable outside with short, wet and cold days. So where does the motivation to move forward come from?

Don’t worry, I have your back! As a globally recognised productivity expert, working from home with 4 kids, I speak to entrepreneurial women about balancing a business and family, guiding them on how to crack the magic of doing more in less time – because as a mum of 4, I know what a struggle it can be to actually enjoy your life, when battling the juggling act of work and home. Guilt, frustration and overwhelm were the barriers that initially hit me, and I want to help others break these down before they even become ’a thing’.

With that in mind, I have put together 5 strategies to get you motivated to take control of 2021:

Tip 1 – Design your day according to your current situation

Back in April and May, I was really struggling to keep my work schedule on track in an upside-down world where 6 people where all at home and needed constant feeding, online support and general home management (that means washing and cleaning). I had to adapt and change my schedule to reflect the realities of the present and not a hopeful tomorrow when everything would go back to normal. That same lesson applies today, and this strategy will give you the best chance to move forward.

Here’s an example of how this works: In London the days are short, and the mornings tend to have better weather than the afternoons. Because of this reality, I have flipped my daily walks from afternoons to mornings. This is actually a significant change for me because mornings are my best time for creativity and to push out “brain” work, but given the current circumstances, I needed to adapt my schedule to make sure that I can keep exercising and getting outside time. Make sense?

What do you need to revisit to make the most of your day given the current situation (and not the one that will hopefully happen 3 months from now)?

Tip 2 – Top 3 for Today

Have you started the year by sitting down and making a huuuuge to do list of everything you need to accomplish? If you have, chances are it made you feel discouraged as something like that can be very overwhelming. It certainly won’t help you get motivated to start getting things done, probably the opposite. I relate because I used to be the to-do list queen with several different lists going at the same time. Here’s the thing, a to-do list is great for a brain dump, but it is not a planning manager. It can seep the motivation right out of you with thoughts of “why bother?” and “I’ll never get any of it done!”

The solution is what I call Top 3 For Today. Every morning, I right down the top 3 tasks I need to accomplish for that day. No massive to-do list, I just pick three tasks that are aligned to my goals and make sure that two of them are meaty. Start with the hardest one first and work your way through. If you still have time for more work after you get those things done, it’s a bonus. This approach is sure to help you get motivated to make a start because you can do 3 tasks, right?!

Tip 3 – Don’t forget to take breaks

You may think that taking a break will distract you and stop the motivational flow, but the opposite is true. If we spend too long working then we start to lose focus, get distracted more easily and the quality of our work suffers.  When you frequently step back from your work, you may feel less productive because you’re not working during that time. But breaks allow you to accomplish more by letting you replenish your energy reserves, recharge your focus, step back from your work to make creative connections, and re-evaluate your goals or how you approach your work in the first place.

Listen, your brain needs a time-out from work. Taking a break, even a 15 minute one, could help you stay recharged for the rest of the day. In fact, by committing a mere 15 minutes to relaxation exercises, you can build the mental strength you need to power through the afternoon with relative ease.  Here’s the best part, you’ll finish work feeling less stressed and more energised so you can enjoy your evenings.

Tip 4 – Make sure you do something fun!

Please don’t make everything a hard slog. If you want to get motivated to move forward in your business, then you need to enjoy yourself along the way.

Try this exercise: Think of something you really love to do that you can incorporate into your schedule right now that will make you smile and give you something to look forward to. For many of my clients, this is often alone time. I think that alone time is especially relevant in the context of a lockdown when everyone is in everyone’s space. Why not schedule a daily walk (by yourself) and listen to a favourite podcast or a killer playlist? Or maybe it’s about having a hot bath with the door locked, candles burning and meditation tape going. Whatever it is for you, include it into your weekly schedule. When you are able to relax and enjoy yourself in one area, it takes some of the pressure off and gives you the oomph to get going in the work arena.

Tip 5 – Celebrate success

Why is it so easy to gloss over our accomplishments both big and small? I used to do this all the time and discovered that I was really doing myself a disservice. I teach my clients to do a weekly assessment to see what went well and what didn’t go according to plan. The most critical part of this process is to celebrate success! When you have achieved a goal or a milestone, you need to acknowledge it and reward yourself, not only to keep you motivated to hit the next goal, but because you deserve it! Share your successes with friends and family. Invite friends on social media to respond with a GIF when you share a milestone. Book yourself a mannie or a massage as a reward. Buy a new dress. Whatever it is that you feel is rewarding, give that to yourself because your accomplishments need to be acknowledged.

Are you now feeling more motivated to get to work? I know it’s not easy, but I know you can do it! If any of these suggestions resonate with you or if you try them out, I would love to hear about it in the comments.