We’ve all been there – too much to do, lists all over the place, an inbox with over 100 unopened emails, looming deadlines….. and yet all you can do is sit there biting your nails and reading the headlines on MSN.

Where do you start?  And how do you get the inspiration to start clearing out the inbox, ticking items off the list, meeting those deadlines?

1.  Identify one key goal – when I’m lacking motivation, it’s normally because I feel swamped and overwhelmed with too much to do.  When it seems totally unachievable, I just can’t see the point in starting on my list.  It’s too long.  But if I narrow it down and identify just one task, it’s easier to do.  An example might be “Call three clients”, “Plan this month’s blog posts” or “Clear my inbox”.

2.  Write it down – once you’ve decided on your goal, put pen to paper, somewhere you can see it, in big letters.  Stick it on the noticeboard next to your desk or on the back of your office door

3.  Find inspiration – When I joined Weightwatchers, I loved reading about the successes of other slimmers – how they overcame moments of weakness, which exercises were most fun, which recipes were most popular.  When I’d finish reading about them, I’d have a new commitment to sticking to the healthy eating.  Now, when I’m planning a blog post I visit some of my favourite blogs, read some in other fields, and this helps get the creative juices flowing

4.  Visualise what achieving your goal will look like – Imagine the joy of an empty inbox, or how those scheduled blog posts will take the pressure off, or how gorgeous you’ll look in the purple dress

5.  Ignore what doesn’t matter – it’s easy to lose focus and drift onto something else when you’ve got a long list, but once you’ve committed to just one goal, stick to it.  Ignore the other stuff that tries to distract you – shut down your emails, put your phone on silent, close Tweetdeck, grab a coffee, and focus

6.  Reward yourself – once you’ve finished that blog post, give yourself a treat (when I’ve finished this article, I’m going to have a cuppa and a cupcake…. I’m not on Weightwatchers at the mo….).  Recognise your achievements and this will help keep you motivated.  And share them with others – tell your partner you’ve ticked off that big task that’s been bothering you for weeks

7.  Relax – and have a laugh.  Laughing is a great motivator.  Watch your favourite comedian, go out with friends, see a funny film – whatever it is that tickles your funny bone, do it, and you’ll come back to the task in hand with a renewed enthusiasm

So how do you get motivated?  Which of these works for you?  Or what else do you do to achieve your goals?  Share in the comments below.