25 Tips: Motivate Yourself to Clean, Work & Exercise

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Last Updated on January 31, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin

To get motivatedHave you ever had a day when you thought, “Oh my goodness…I have to get up and start moving but I just can’t. How can I get anything done when I have no mental energy? I have NO MOTIVATION!” ……Yeah…me too. I’m too tired or overwhelmed or whatever. Sometimes it’s physical but a lot of times it’s really just this mental battle. In the past, I’ve lost days of my life to Netflix and Facebook because I couldn’t get off the couch and do more than the basics. Not anymore! I’ve gathered up my favorite tips for how I get motivated and I hope they help you too.

Let’s start with the basics…some of these tips apply to home only but most will work if you need to get motivated at home OR work…or even for students. Some might call these tips “mind games” but I guess I need to be entertained to get myself moving.

1. Get “dressed” for your day

This one seems obvious, but I have found that when I don’t have somewhere to go, its easy for me to stay in my comfy clothes (i.e. pajamas) and just drift through the morning. If I’m feeling sluggish, it helps to take a shower…put on actual “real” clothes, brush my hair…put on makeup etc. I need to dress like I’m going to a job even if I’m staying home.

2. Put on socks and shoes

Related to the first one, for some of us, is important to actually put on socks and shoes to get motivated. This may be oversimplified, but it’s harder to curl up on the couch or lay back in bed with shoes on!

3. Make a To-Do List

Grab a piece of notebook paper and write down the 10 things you want to get done today. Maybe you don’t have 10, but when I make a list, I tend to be overly ambitious. Now, circle the top 3 things that are the most important. I will often make that list and then forget about it the rest of the day…only to find it later and be surprised how much I got done…simply by thinking about it and clearly identifying what needed to happen.

4. Put your “servants” to work (i.e. start the dishwasher, clothes washer, crockpot or whatever…let it “work” for you)

When I was younger, I feel like we heard about the Proverbs 31 woman as this ideal picture of womanhood quite often in Sunday School or Bible studies. She was a very industrious woman and a great example. But my brain always honed in on the fact that this great lady had servants. As an adult, I was slightly jealous of her…I mean, she got a lot done but she had HELP!! And here I was surrounded by kids, most of whom made messes faster than I could drag myself around to clean up.

One day I realized that I DO actually have servants. They don’t have names like “Mary” and “Jane.” Rather they go by names like “Crock Pot” and “Dishwasher.” When I am trying to get moving, it helps me to put one or two servants to work…I start a load of laundry…or fill the crock put or whatever and enjoy knowing that “work” is getting done…but I’m not doing it.

Here are MORE Great Tips for Stay At Home Moms!

5. Recruit your team

Now when I told a friend that I like to put my “servants” to work, she asked if I was talking about my kids! Hahaha! They would be terrible servants…way too independent. That said, my family does a great job of helping. My kids don’t like TO CLEAN, but they like a CLEAN house. So, it helps to delegate some of the tasks on my list to get more done quickly. I set a timer for 10 minutes…we all work for 10 minutes and then they take a 50-minute break. We repeat several times during the day to make progress. I recently did this on a day when I had NO motivation and it was amazing how much we got done throughout the day. I got to feel blah for 50 minutes…they got to watch TV or play. And then for 10 minutes we would bust it out…and repeat.

In a work environment, this might look like delegating tasks that you could do but that someone else could do as well. Leave yourself the items that only you can do or that would be the most beneficial use of your time.

6. Diffuse essential oils or light a candle

Especially in the winter when the house has been closed up for too long, I like scents to help motivate. I usually put a pot of water on the stove to add moisture to the air and drop in some cinnamon sticks, cloves and a few pieces of dried orange. Or, I like to use Mrs. Meyers cleaners which smell great for a quick mental boost while cleaning.

7. “Make a deal” with yourself that you will work on a necessary but perhaps unpleasant task but for only 10 minutes

In his famous book, Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy, argues that we get more done when we identify the most important value added task that will benefit our lives and work on it exclusively until it is done. Completing these tasks move us forward and accelerate our goals more quickly. However, they are often unpleasant…they might be stressful, difficult or just time consuming. We put off starting them because the more we think about them, the larger they become in our minds. So..I like to “make a deal” with myself, that I will start a Frog task and set a timer for 10 minutes. I often work on it more than 10 minutes once I get started because things really start to flow. But either way, the stage is set…I’ve started the task. Later in the day…I will repeat this 10 minute process until the task gets done. It may take only one day or it may take a few. It may take longer this way, but it is easier to deal with mentally when I have agreed that I only need to do 10 minutes.

8. Clean off one surface (table, desk, make your bed, a kitchen counter, the couch…whatever)

Recently, my mom walked in my kitchen and said, “You kitchen looks so big!! Wow, its’s so clean!” I have a very normal size kitchen…and it hadn’t grown overnight since the last time she walked in. But I had had a magical few hours without littles people at home and had decluttered the counters and cleaned everything up. It did look so much bigger.

The next day when I woke up to a clean kitchen, it was so nice to NOT have to work on the kitchen and instead start on a different area for a few minutes. I have found that taking the time to clear even one surface is something contagious that often spreads to other areas because its so appealing. I can clean one counter in 10 minutes usually.

9. Go for a walk outside for 5-10 minutes

Nothing clears the cobwebs in the mind like a walk outside. We live in a semi-country area…but on a busy road. We don’t have sidewalks and cars go fast. So, instead of walking on the road, I go for a walk out back. I do a few laps around the yards, look at the neighbor’s animals, and possibly pick a few weeds in the summer. I feel refreshed and ready to focus after getting some sunshine and fresh air.

10. Drink a glass of water instead of coffee or soda

I love coffee…and sometimes its easy to have another…another…and another cup during the day trying to get a little energy to do all the things I need to do. But I have realized, that often I am reaching for the coffee when I’m really just thirsty. I don’t drink nearly enough water when I’m drinking a lot of coffee. A refreshing class of water (or carbonated water if you like) can be just the thing to give a little pick me up.

11. Do something for your future self for 10 minutes

I can’t remember where I heard this idea, but it’s one that stuck. We can choose to do things now…today…to benefit our future self. This can look a lot of different ways. I’ve used this idea to help me meal plan, pack lunches the night before, set out clothes for my kids, plant my garden or declutter my basement. I decide to do something now that will help my “future me” have a better day.

12. Make a list of everything you have DONE today.

Sometimes half the day slips away before I realize that I need to DO SOMETHING to get motivated. Initially I am kicking myself that I have wasted so much time. As moms, so much of what we do never makes it on a TO DO list. We just do it. But those things are important…those undefined tasks we never planned to do. So when I’m trying to jumpstart myself…and give myself a pat on the back, I will make a TO DONE list. I encourage you to try this. On this blank list, you add to it everything that you have already DONE as well as everything you do the rest of the day…whether it was on your original to-do list or not. My list will usually say something like…Got up, Got dressed, Drove Bennett to school, Read my Bible, Made breakfast for Julia etc. It is all really normal stuff…doesn’t matter…write it down!

13. Watch a short Youtube video

Youtube can be this vortex that sucks you in…so this one is a bit dangerous. However, sometimes it is just the thing I need to get me moving. I love watching videos about decluttering, gardening, or specific skills I need to learn. Years ago, I would go find an episode of Hoarders when I needed to clean. Suddenly those random items I couldn’t quite part with were throwing themselves in the trashcan. It was so much easier to let go after that motivation. Sometimes a quick video is the perfect thing to help me to do the next thing.

14. Get Quiet for 10 minutes –

Sometimes when there are so many things to do that I feel overwhelmed, what I really need to do is take a few minutes to slow down. I like to sit on my porch or find a corner away from people and talk to God. Sometimes I need to really focus in on what His priority is for me for that day rather than all the things that I THINK I need to do. I encourage you to partner with the Lord…He has a good plan for your day and He will help you do it.

15. Use a step-counter

In late 2020, I finally bought a step counter. I had tried to use my phone, but I don’t always have my phone on me, so it was not useful for tracking steps. What I found was that I sit…A LOT. It was kind of embarrassing. So, I bought the step counter and it became a personal challenge to get those 10,000 steps a day. I didn’t beat myself up if I didn’t get there, but I made an effort to go for more walks, exercise, and just move more…all because I could see the steps go up. If I had a slow morning and the step counter says…its noon and you only have 1,000 steps, then after lunch, I’m going out to do that 10 or 20-minute walk while in the past I would have had no idea how little I was moving.

Here is the step-counter I use.

16. When the phone rings, start walking

I used to think other people were the chatty ones. As it turns out, I’m the one who talks a lot especially to certain friends who are like me. So, instead of just sitting in a chair when they call, I try to go outside for a walk or talk while getting boring tasks done. In my house, that looks like throwing in and folding laundry, washing dishes or just general cleanup. Suddenly that time when I would have been sitting, talking gets repurposed into something useful and boring tasks gone done without me feeling bored. Win! Win!

17. Take Supplements

I don’t consider supplements to be some kind of magic pill when it comes to motivation. However, through trial and error, I’ve found that some supplements really help clear the mental fog, help me think clearly and promote motivation. A few that I like for this reason are: B Vitamins, Turmeric & Ginger, Fish Oil. I’ve found that if I forget to take them in the morning, taking them in the afternoon will give me a boost in about an hour.

18. Invite People Over

For whatever reason, it can be easier to kick it into gear if people are coming over. My husband gets annoyed when I do this sometimes becaiuse I can go into overdrive for a day…but I love it. What might start out as general cleanup usually spills over into decluttering space the guests will never see, deep cleaning something I d

19. Fill a Bag

If decluttering is your goal, I have found that deciding to clean “a bag at a time” is effective. Right now my decluttering spot is my basement. It is also where we keep most of our laundry. So as I’m folding laundry, I’ll “fill a bag” with clothes kids have outgrown or I’ll fill a bag with old junk to throw away. This can work for any area which feels overwhelming. Don’t trying to clean it all at once…just do it a bag at a time. I’ve been doing this for a few months and my basement is getting so cleared out. Its amazing!

20. Use a timer

The last one is a simple one. Use a timer. Deciding to do a task for a set amount of time makes tasks manageable and pushes us to do more. I find myself racing the clock…trying to see how much I can get done in 10 minutes. Each of my workouts is broken down into just 6 minute chunks….I use a timer and go. I definitely don’t love working out…but my brain thinks 6 minutes is easy so I’ve been able to maintain this system for months. When my kids don’t want to study, I will encourage them to do it for just 10 minutes knowing that when the ten minutes is up, they will have pushed past the most difficult part.

21. Work Hard…Rest Hard

Most of us know that it is important to focus and work hard. Just as important is that we REST. It’s not something you just deserve…it is good for our bodies and minds to actively rest. We have to choose to take a break. I really like working….I’m often on my computer when I’m watching a movie, or trying to cook or whatever. As a result, its hard to be present with the people that I’m spending time with. We have to choose to put away the work to spend time with our families and friends. When we rest well, it is like a mental reset…its so much easier to work efficiently when we start fresh.

While we are talking about rest…I have found that if I have not been getting enough sleep at night, then it is really difficult to get motivated. Sometimes a brief powernap is just the reset I need to get moving again!

22. Reward Yourself!

This one is pretty self explanatory but absolutely necessary. Whether you enjoy a reading a book, a few minutes of time alone or going out to dinner with your spouse or friends, finding ways to celebrate continued momentum is essential. It reminds us that we are making progress and that the little steps we are making as part of our bigger goals are absolutely essential and worth celebrating!

23. Phone a Friend

Having good friends that can back you up and encourage your motivation is a gift. Surround yourself with like minded people who will cheer you on as you pursue your goal…no matter how big or small. Recently, a friend called me to ask me to help her declutter before her big move across the country. She specifically asked for help in dejunking sentimental things. This is a hard thing for her to tackle so she called for help. And I was happy to do it because it was helping her meet her own goal. Surround yourself with people who want good things for you.

24. Encourage Someone Else

25. Make it a game

In some ways, I think of these mental tricks as little mind games. Most people have to overcome motivation challenges and making a game of it is a great way to do it. To help us with our motivation, I’ve made a Bingo sheet as part of our FREE Motivation Pack. Click here to get your copy! Find your motivation today!