pen and notbook

Bad days are inevitable. Can you stay productive when you’re having one?

Some days, of course, everything goes right.

You wake up energized, the sun is shining bright in a cloudless sky, and your coffee’s ready just as your toast pops up.

You’re motivated and fired up! You’re super productive all day, plowing through your to-do list with ease. Nothing can best you.

Other days, everything goes wrong. You don’t get much sleep, the sky is grey, and the ground is muddy. Your morning routine falls apart. You spill your coffee all over your toast, and things just get worse from there. By 10:00 AM, what little motivation you had has dissipated and you’re tempted to write the day off.

But all is not lost! Enter the inspiration portfolio.

What Is an Inspiration Portfolio?

It’s a pretty simple concept: An inspiration portfolio is a collection of things that inspire you and increase your level of motivation.

It might include:

  • quotes that get you fired up
  • ideas or concepts that energize you
  • compliments people have paid you
  • a list of past obstacles you’ve overcome
  • anything else that motivates you to act

Everyone will put theirs together a little differently, of course, but the above list is a good place to start.

Why Do You Need One?

Motivation (let’s define this as “the state of wanting to do things”) is unpredictable, inconstant, and temporary.

Productivity (let’s define this as “the state of actually doing things”), though, needs to be more or less constant.

We can’t just be productive when we feel like it. We have to deliver regardless of how we feel, and that means we need to have a strategy in place ahead of time to deal with states of low motivation.

How to Make an Inspiration Portfolio

I can live for two months on a good compliment. — Mark Twain

Setting up an inspiration portfolio takes about 2 minutes. In fact, there are only three steps:

  1. Start a new Word document/Google Doc/iOS Note (or take out a blank piece of paper).
  2. Write down one quote you find interesting, one compliment you’ve received, and one hard thing you’ve done in your life.
  3. When an idea resonates with you, someone pays you a significant compliment, or a quote makes you think, add it to the list.

I keep a Google Doc for this purpose, and I review it once a week (Thursday mornings, currently) as well as on an “as-needed” basis. It takes a couple of minutes, and it does more to improve my outlook, mood and motivation than just about anything else I’ve tried.

You should try it, too! Using an inspiration portfolio is a simple but elegant way to manage your motivation. Feeling better and getting more done? You can’t beat that.