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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 March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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