Small wins and motivation

Out of all the things that can boost our mood and motivation, the single most important is making progress on meaningful work.

Just like we love crossing small tasks off our to-do list, being able to see that we’re even one step closer to a big goal is a huge motivator. The problem is that these “small wins” are hard to measure.

Theodore H. (@theodorexh) - Profile Photo

@theodorexh

Time Management

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

“The more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service.”
“Most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss.”

It keeps you motivated and productive.

You become more purposeful about the work you do. And that can create the kind of meaning that so many of us search for in our daily work. You also have more insight into the value you’re creating.

Track your metrics on a calendar

Pick a metric (or two) that makes sense for you and then track how many days you hit it.

Your calendar becomes a large, visual reminder of your progress (and also brings in the power of streaks).

James Clear

“If you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.”

... and start every day at zero.

Rather than simply looking at your overall progress on a project, set smaller daily quotas.

If your goal is especially complex, a quota can be easier to hit than a goal. 

It's where your brain specifically seeks the hit of dopamine you get from crossing off small tasks and ignores working on larger, more complex ones.

Break out large tasks

...  into smaller pieces and visualize them.

When you’re facing a large project, your first step should be to break it out into smaller goals. Then, break those goals down into smaller tasks. The more chances you have to feel like you “finished” part of it, the more motivation you’ll get from your progress.

Write in a diary

... for 5 minutes a day.

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to write about what you worked on. Make sure to note both your “small wins” and any setbacks.

At the end of the month, flip back through your notes and see how far you’ve come. It’s amazing the clarity you get from seeing the progress you made over a longer period

Why we feel busier than ever

... but feel like nothing gets done:

  • Our days are filled with meaningless, busy-work (like answering emails).
  • We’ve lost the ability to set meaningful, effective goals.
  • We don’t set in place methods for tracking progress.
  • We’ve lost the ability to handle uncertainty.

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