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Hack Your Mind to Get Motivated

Hack Your Mind to Get Motivated

    Let’s face it. Most creative people and knowledge workers have to perform in their jobs and personal lives at a moment’s notice. With constant pressure coming at us to produce more, better, and faster, it can be a hard to get motivated through all of the work that we have to do on a daily basis.

    SEE ALSO: How to Stay Motivated

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    If you find yourself “slipping through the cracks” and becoming unmotivated day-in and day-out, use mind hacks to get motivated.

    Insert a daily review into your life

    Something that I have been playing with for a couple weeks now is having a “mini review” every morning, thanks to Peter Bregman and his 18 Minutes framework. Peter suggests before we do anything else in our day to take 5 minutes to decide how our day will be “highly successful”. This consists of me opening nothing else but my task management suite and looking over my available actions for the day and marking what I want to get done.

    This small but important time slot in the beginning of the day can help me get motivated by giving me a purpose. Without a purpose for my day I will surely slip into an unmotivated state.

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    Taking small breaks and refocusing

    Another awesome way to get motivated is to make sure that you are giving yourself much needed breaks throughout the day. These don’t have to be the “normal” two, 15 minute breaks with a lunch hour in between. Oh, no. We are talking about small breaks through out the day that can last a few to five minutes.

    The idea is that rather than forcing ourselves to work, that we stop every so often to give ourselves the permission to read our favorite blogs, update our twitter status, etc. so we can push our concentration back to our work. This idea of giving ourselves small breaks throughout the day allows us not to build resentments against our work, and can keep us motivated and focused for longer periods of time.

    Go to a higher altitude

    We talked about how you can insert a daily mini review into your life to find you motivation for the day, but what about motivation for your life? This is where David Allen’s altitudes come into play.

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    David Allen (you know, the GTD Guy?) talks about 6 Horizons of Focus. Basically, these are different levels that you can look at your life and they range from “pickup milk on the way home” to “be the father that you always wanted”. What you want to do is at least monthly (if not weekly) take a look at your higher Horizons of Focus. These would be your 30 to 50k feet Horizons. This is the range between where you are going for the next 12 to 18 months to the reason that you are on this planet.

    It’s a good practice to sit down and get creative with these horizons as a way to get motivated to do your life’s work. The mini daily review is great for daily grind and trench work, but if you don’t step back and go to a higher level, you will spend your life living in the trenches where the chances of becoming unmotivated are much higher. Give your life meaning by looking at the big picture instead.

    Become mindful

    So, reviewing and breaking throughout your day are good ways to get motivated, but one of the best ways is to make sure that you are staying mindful. Being mindful is the key to doing the work that you are supposed to be doing.

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    Like I mentioned before, it can be really hard to “come out of the front-lines” or work. When you finally do you may look at what you are doing and think to yourself, “what’s the point of this?” Chances are if you are thinking that you aren’t being mindful of your work and life.

    Becoming mindful not only helps you find the work that you should be doing but it helps you get motivated to do that work. Once you find the things in your life that need to stay and the things that you can let go of through mindfulness, having motivation will be the last thing you need to worry about. As your clarity of mind increases, your motivation for work will happen naturally.

    I wish I could tell you the key to getting motivated is to quite whining, and just do your work. But, sometimes we have to use “tricks” to get motivated. Practice the above recommendations and you shouldn’t have too much trouble with staying motivated through your day and life.

    (Photo credit: Motivation via Shutterstock)

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

    Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

    It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

    • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

    • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

    • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

    In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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    Different Folks, Different Strokes

    Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

    Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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    Productivity and Trust Killer

    Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

    That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

    Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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    A Flexible Remote Working Policy

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

    There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

    Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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    It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

    What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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