There are days when everything seems too much, and you really don't feel like taking the dog for a walk, or doing that dreaded laundry or turning up for work. However, I have found the problem underlying a lot of my motivational problems is imposing myself with expectations that are too high, or with perfectionism. Sure, when the boss expects you to run to a deadline; the expectations are imposed externally - and these are the days when you especially don't need to give yourself a hard time by having those extra chores you impose on yourself.
There are no magic bullets to become motivated, but I have found the following helpful.
My brother once told me that you can't steer a ship that is not moving. As such, the motivation doesn't start until the action which you were avoiding is started. I find this is especially true with exercise. Going for a bike ride may be the last thing I feel like doing, but when I do go - the breeze on my face; the smile of other cyclists, and the endorphins that I get when I come back make it worth it. The next day, I am apt to forget that, and have the same trouble with motivation all over again. Also, exercising with a friend can make it fun instead of a chore.
Listening to music
Often making the expectations we set for ourselves lower throughout the day makes being motivated that much easier. For example, if the house is a pigsty and you don't know where to start; you end up becoming overwhelmed, and you end up pulling out your hair or plonking on the couch with a packet of chips. My mother shared with me "the seven rule" when it comes to housework. It works like this. You put seven things away. And lo and behold, you think "Why not? I'll must put away another seven." Pretty soon you decide to put on your favourite music, and all of a sudden you're singing along to Pink while your house is becoming cleaner.
Our cognitive psychology lecturer at uni told us that maximum efficiency is achieved in work when you work for 25 minutes, and then have a five-minute break. During this break, you need to do something you find pleasurable. I tried this, and it really does work. I would really look forward to those break moments. Instead of becoming burnt out, I would go back to the job that I was doing feeling reinvigorated.
In sum, I have learnt:
To lower my expectations so I am not overwhelmed or stressed.
That often things are not inherently motivating. They become rewarding once started.
That the "seven rule" principle can be applied to really any task you feel is hard to become motivated by.
That anything that makes an activity more pleasurable, for example music or exercising with a friend can be motivational for some.
That having five minute breaks after 25 minutes of work is not only great for motivation; it's essential to prevent burnout.