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Any notebook or scrap page will do to make a lost moments list

Having a Lost Moments List: How to be Motivated when you’re Just Not


November 2, 2018

I often find myself with lost moments, times when I can't seem to do anything. So I found a way to get motivated when I'm struggling.

Lost moments suck. Sometimes they extend into lost days. At one point in my life, I had a lost year (or two). Getting out of these slumps can seem impossible at the time. How do you find motivation when you just don’t have any? I’ve asked this question so many times to so many people. And no one seems to have anything practical to say. But I’ve found something that works for me. So maybe it’ll work for you too.It’s no secret I’m a list person. I talk about that a lot. It helps me to organise my goals, categorise tasks and just generally achieve things. So, it’s probably no surprise that my solution to finding motivation is to make a lost moments list. But this is a very special kind of list, and each item needs to pass a criteria before it can be added. If you have a backup plan, you might find that this kind of list becomes a part of it.

What are Lost Moments?

To me, lost moments are those times when you can’t do anything. I had to train myself to notice them, and they can vary in how they appear. But for me, they generally have the attributes of getting consumed by a mobile game, repeatedly checking social media or texts, feeling listless or trapped, and just generally like every task is either the wrong thing or too hard. My lost moments are generally a symptom of depression, but they can also occur during good times. Everyone has “off days”, when finding motivation is nearly impossible.

The only solution to an off day is doing something. Motivation tends to snowball, but getting started on anything is the hardest task when you’re feeling lost within yourself. And it’s really frustrating to be constantly reminded of this when you’re struggling.

Getting Motivated

I used to tell myself to just do something, but it often resulted in frustration and anger. So I made a change. I made myself a Lost Moments List, or things that I can do when I’m having a bad day. And it’s working. Just picking one task often inspires and motivates me for a full days worth of work. There were some strict criteria I followed when making my list, and I want to share both some of my list points, as well as the rules with you. You can adapt them to your own needs, but these are the ones I tried to abide by when creating my list.

Any notebook or scrap page will do to make a lost moments list

Any notebook or scrap page will do to make a lost moments list

This activity should be done during a time when you’re feeling enthusiastic, but if that’s not on the horizon, be extra vigilant to follow the rules.

Lost Moments List Rules

  • Completed in less than 1 hour
  • No complicated or require deep thought tasks
  • Be enjoyable
  • Be quiet
  • Work towards a larger goal
  • Be recurring

Unpacking the rules

1 hour time limit: this list is to get things started, not keep them going. Chances are you already have a to-do list, or at least an idea of the things you need to to. This is just a way to jump start the motivation before transitioning into the more practical tasks of the day.

Simple tasks: the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle is key. There’s no point in having a task that will emotionally and mentally exhaust you, that just adds to the problem of the lost moments. Something easy on the brain is advisable.

Be enjoyable: self explanatory, but often overlooked. We want to do things we enjoy, so why not make a list of things that are practical as well as not soul-sucking? Enjoyable here is different from fun. They’re tasks that you don’t hate, not ones you love (although you might be able to include some of those too).

Quiet: mindfulness has become a big part of this list for me. The idea of quiet here is to let your brain process whatever is causing the lost moment. Don’t do something all consuming that requires every sense.

Goal building: the key to this list is that it’s not useless. Completing useless tasks can just feed into the feeling of a lost day. Everything on the list should be part of a larger goal, be it a creative project, keeping information up to date or just looking after your home and personal space.

Recurring: you’ll notice that nothing on my list is a one time task. This is key. Each of these tasks is open-ended, and this is to help with the idea of ongoing motivation. It also has helped me come to terms with the idea that things don’t have to have an end, something I personally struggle with.

My Lost Moments List

As promised, here are some of the things on my personal lost moments list.

  • Make a portfolio page for a project
  • Write a non-date specific blog post
  • Water the houseplants
  • Write in my depression diary
  • Review the blog journal
  • Make a new theme for shelleyphant.com

A lost moments list is a great way to get started when you’re feeling unmotivated. Be mindful about what’s on your list, and use it wisely. It’s a tool to jump start a bad day, not a list of errands to be achieved. If you’ve had a go at making one, leave a comment with some of your tasks!

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