What Motivates You?

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I learned something oh-so-encouraging last week: I’m not the only procrastinator out there. What a huge relief! It did my heart good to hear from so many of you who are doing—or not doing—the same things I am. And for the same reasons. Thanks so much for sharing your struggles and triumphs—they encouraged me, big time.

You also got me thinking about the opposite of procrastination. What motivates me to get moving on a project? To dive in and run full tilt to the finish line?

After a wee bit of soul searching, here are my Top Motivators:

Deadlines & Time Limits

I’ve heard it said that “Tasks expand to fill the allotted time.” Isn’t that the truth? Give me a day to edit a chapter, and it will take me all day. Give me just two hours and low and behold, I can get it done in two hours. There is something about a ticking clock that makes me much more productive. This works for things I want to do, and for things I don’t. If I set a kitchen timer, I can get even ugly tasks done in quick, almost-painless chunks.


I tried to refrain from bribing my children when they were younger—that’s a major parental no-no–but I suffer no such qualms about myself. Chocolate always works. I stick my favorite candy bar in the freezer and tell myself I can have the whole thing—guilt free—once I finish [fill in the blank]. Works like a charm.


Nothing gets my butt in gear like knowing somebody is going to ask about my productivity. If I have to announce to my critique partner, husband or writing group how many pages I edited or wrote that day, I’m going to make sure it’s a respectable number. Helps me avoid the temptation to read (instead of write) and call it “research.”


Company is a double whammy for me. I don’t see the dirt and dust and clutter that has wandered in and gotten comfortable until roughly three hours before guests arrive. Then I look around and gasp, “When did this place fall apart? And how will I put it back together before the doorbell rings?” Next ensues a flurry of activity that would make Martha Stewart proud. Vacuum in one hand; dust cloth in the other—I’m a whirling dervish of progress.

Actually, that was me this afternoon. We had wonderful guests for dinner, so my house is looking very spiffy right now. So, what about you? What are your top motivators? I’d love to hear what gets you moving and keeps you going.

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    The Conversation

  1. Sarah Grimm says:

    Deadlines are the best motivators for me. Otherwise I keep telling myself I’ll just finish what I’m working on and then get to it. I’m very good at procrastinating.

    Of course, I’ve been known to get something done faster when Chubby Hubby ice cream is involved. 🙂


  2. Deadlines always do it for me, too. I always find I am way more productive when I have loads of things that MUST get done. My crit partner cracking the whip helps as well;-)

  3. diane burke says:

    Chubby Hubby ice cream and chocolate! No wonder I’ve been finding it hard to work. I haven’t been using the right tools. I’m gonna load up on both and then its off to work I go, heigh ho, heigh ho.

  4. Liz Arnold says:

    This is a pretty good list. Since ice cream has been added, I’m at a loss to think of anything else! Great post.

  5. Emma Lai says:

    My motivation is the need to keep sane. I clean when too much clutter piles up because if I don’t I go crazy. I write when characters speak to me because if I don’t I go crazy. I cook when I’m hungry because if I don’t I go crazy.

    Yes, I’m one of those people who walk the fine line between normal and crazy. Good thing all I have to do to keep sane is work, which makes my hubby think I’m crazy…too much work.

  6. I’ll take one of each motivators, please. Deadlines and company are my best ones. Amazing how the brain comes up with a response that was probably there all along when it’s under pressure. If I counted every incident where pressure led to the exact output I needed…

    I’m with Emma, too.

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    The Wild Rose Press

  7. And coffee, of course.

    Seems like a great blog 🙂

  8. What a great question. I thought and though, then glanced t the space beside me. I motivate myself by writing down what I have to do that day before I enter my office. I use old envelopes so I don’t waste anything. By the time I’ve drank my morning tea and read the newspaper I’ve jotted down all the “have tos” for that day. It works for me.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Yes! A fellow list-maker and old envelope recycler! I do that all the time. I even put stuff I’ve already done on the list–just so I can cross it off! 🙂 thanks, Velda!