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What it Takes to Motivate

I recently listened to a podcast that focused on the concept of minimalism. More specifically, minimalism in parenthood. Is this even possible?! After reflecting on what I heard and taking inventory of my surroundings, I realized that it was time to declutter my own home. I got to a point of "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!" (with the messy house) and began rage cleaning... starting with excessive toys that were just taking up space, and that my kids probably won't notice are gone. I had been meaning to chip away at this task over time.

The big motivator to finally take action was noticing how the space was impacting my mental state. Don't get me wrong, living with young children inevitably comes with some mess, so the process of tidying up is ongoing. The fact that I couldn't walk into some rooms in the house without feeling stressed, annoyed, overwhelmed, etc. indicated that it had reached beyond what I was willing to tolerate. I knew I had to do something about it.

What is motivation?

Motivation is defined as a reason for behaving a certain way, and the desire to do something. Motivation drives our actions and keeps us on track with our goals. There are different types of motivation, known as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, while extrinsic motivation involves an external reward. Both forms of motivation can be effective, though intrinsic motivation is something to foster so the 'reward' comes from personal enjoyment and/or fulfillment. I like to reflect on what motivates me in difficult circumstances, and why sometimes I feel more motivated to act than in other times.

Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation

After taking some time to organize and purge items around the house, I set up a donation pickup with Purple Heart. I was also able to give away/sell items that we no longer needed. It felt good to see more open areas of the floor! Coincidentally, I learned about a huge kids' consignment sale (TotSwap) coming up in my area, so that also motivated me to go through other items worth selling.

*The sale ended yesterday, at the time of writing this post.

The process of decluttering was an example of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. On one hand, it felt good to have a cleaner space and pass on things we no longer needed. Although it took a while to prepare my items for the consignment sale, it was satisfying to arrange, organize, and tag the items. The possibility of making a little money was also motivating. I purchased a tagging gun to make the process go a little more smoothly. Another personally rewarding aspect of the TotSwap sale was seeing someone walking out with a toy I had for sale. It wasn't so much about earning money for it, but more about knowing that another family would get to enjoy it.

Motivation at Work

When it comes to my work, I tend to gravitate towards the creative projects first because they are more intrinsically motivating. However, there are other factors that help me prioritize my time and tasks.

To-Do Lists

I'm a big fan of to-do lists, both digitally and on paper. There is something very satisfying about tackling each thing on the list, especially if I can add a little check mark or cross out what has been completed. To prepare for the week, I create a to-do list on Sunday evenings in the form of an email to myself. When I check my emails on Monday morning, I have the list ready to go. I include what needs to be done for the week, and in what order.


Deadlines are motivating because they help me with my time management. When new projects are added to the queue, I assess the time needed to complete each item, and factor in any specific timelines associated. For the work that repeats consistently each week (i.e. social media and blog posts), sometimes I front load all the work towards the beginning of the week, or I designate certain days to work on them. This depends on additional work projects that are either a one-time occurrence or ongoing.


My weekly schedule is pretty flexible for the most part. If I know that I have an upcoming event or change in the typical week, then I am motivated to make adjustments to accommodate these changes. Sometimes this means working at odd hours, but I make sure it all gets done!

What motivates you?

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