Motivation = Productivity
How are you feeling today?
Ready to take on the world?
Yes! But not right now.
I just want to lay on the couch a little longer.
You’re not alone.
There are so many resources for motivation which can get a little overwhelming. For instance, I went on amazon.ca, and searched “motivation” in the books section. There was over 51,000 search results. How am I suppose to figure out which book best pertains to myself? You will drive yourself crazy trying to analyse and over think it. Motivation is not magic. It does not come in a bottle. There is no little blue pill for it. But it’s something you can tap into by design then harness.*
Let’s take me for example. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s I lived by the seat of my pants. I relied on my memory for everything. I never planned anything out, except for Friday and Saturday night parties with my friends. I was constantly forgetting to do things, which resulted in panic usually in the 25th hour. But around 25-30 years old, I realized I needed to motivate myself to not settle and start striving for more, not only in my personal life but also professional. I tried many things but for me, being a visual learner, a simple list on a post it note worked the best. I know every phone has a “notepad” on it, or you can download an app, but if my phone is in my hand I won’t be getting any work done.
Here is a look at one of my typical lists, I create for myself when I have an off day.
Nothing seems out of the ordinary does it? My list isn’t so different than any one else’s responsibilities or chores for any given day. Even though it looks really simple and easy, I have developed a method to “my lists.”
I try and only put down one word items. ie. Laundry. Groceries. Dinner. Groceries would be the most time consuming tasks on my list. It requires going to store(s), making a grocery list, and trying to determine when the best time in the day to go shopping. But by using one word, it immediately shortens the list and makes me feel like the tasks ahead of me are already easier to complete. I know it seems crazy for me to put down ” shower” and “shave” when to the average person these are things are embedded into their heads as musts do for the day. They are for me too, but just seeing them on the list, taking 2 separate lines, makes me feel like I have to “get my butt in gear”. I never create a list with less than 5 tasks on it because I know I wouldn’t get it done, because I would keep pushing it back telling myself I will do it later.
Make a List
When I have a lot of things to do, I make a list the previous day/night and when I wake up I start completing tasks on the list. For some, creating a list of 5-10 things to do the following day may seem intimidating, but I assure you it isn’t. It is a lot easier to keep track of tasks/jobs for the day with a list rather than memory. Relying solely on memory you tend to forget things, with a list the job is staring at you until its crossed off or erased.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
You know the classic children’s story, The Tortoise and the Hare? If you don’t, I can summarize it for you. The Tortoise and the Hare prepare to race each other, with the clear advantage going to the Hare. The Hare was so confident in his speed it made him egotistical. Almost at the finish line and the Tortoise not in site, the Hare decides to take a nap. Once he awakes, he sees the Tortoise cross the line for the win. My point is, there is no need to rush through tasks, or even try to tackle tasks that are way too big or too much for one person. Those tasks will just deter you more. By starting slow, and completing smaller tasks you will become more confident and will start adding more jobs for the day.
Prep for tasks
Why prep for a task? You have the day off, just do it when you wake up, right? Wrong. Preparing for task can make it feel much easier to complete. What does that even mean?? One example, Laundry. The night before, I gather al my dirty laundry and separate them into darks and whites and leave by the door in separate hampers. ( I live in an apartment building and laundry is not in my unit.) This way, when I get up I turn my coffee pot on and then bring my hampers to the laundry room, already sorted and ready to be washed. Usually by the time, I get back to my unit the coffee is done and I have already started one of my most boring and longest chores of the day.
Multi-Task without Multi-Tasking
I try multi tasking to finish my tasks even quicker. I don’t mean I am doing the dishes in the shower or I am to vacuum and shave at the same time. By multi tasking I mean, using every minute you have wisely. For example, I will put my clothes in the washing machine, then vacuum while the clothes are being washed. When I put them into the dryer, I jump into the shower and shave. Washing clothes will take 40 minutes, and to vacuum takes roughly 30. If I do tackle them at the same time, I am saving myself 30 minutes by doing two things at once. Already, first tasks of the day are done in almost half the time.
When am I most productive?
Giving yourself the best possibility to succeed, is very important for motivation. I am a morning person. It has taken me over a decade to figure that out, but I am. I wish I could go to bed at 10pm and sleep until 1pm the next day, but I am not wired that way. When I lay on the couch all morning and at lunch decide I am going to tackle my chores, I immediately start creating excuses or procrastinating. Some of my famous internal thoughts are ” Well, I’ll watch the end of this TV show and then I’ll do it,” or ” Well, there isn’t that much to do. So when I decide to start, I will just go really fast and get it all done in a fraction of the time.” When this creeps into my head, I know nothing will be getting done for the rest of the day.”
Music Makes Repetitive Tasks More Enjoyable
Music’s effectiveness is dependent on how “immersive” a task is, referring to the creative demand of the work. When a task is clearly defined and repetitive in nature, research suggests that music is consistently helpful.
A series of experiments has investigated the relationship between the playing of background music during the performance of repetitive work and efficiency in performing such a task. The results give strong support to the contention that economic benefits can accrue from the use of music in industry.
Assembly line workers showed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music, for example. More modern studies would argue that it isn’t the music itself, but rather the improved mood your favourite music brings that is the source of this bump in productivity.**
After spending all that time cleaning,organizing, and preparing take time to give yourself memento as a way of saying “great job”. This will make you feel like you accomplished something big that day, as well it gives you a break for your chores. Rewards give you motivation. Even though you are more than capable of skipping the chores/tasks and head straight to the reward, that is not the point and won’t accomplish anything. Something as simple as, half way through your tasks, go and grab a nice speciality coffee from Starbucks. It will take your mind off chores,get your out of the house all while also giving you caffeine…. I mean energy to finish the rest of the list.
This is not an overnight fix for your motivation, and it is certainly not a fool proof way to become more motivated. Everyone is unique in their own way, and we all handle things differently. So use these as helpful guidelines, but if you need to, make revisions to better suit your needs. Don’t let a little lack of motivation get in your way. If you start with baby steps you will be running before you know it.
When am I most productive?
Every list has easy and harder tasks on it. Everyone is unique and has different ways to do just about everything. For myself, I keep all the easier tasks for the end, while starting with the hard ones. Being a morning person, I have a lot of energy when I wake up, so more physically demanding tasks ( grocery shopping over shaving) or tasks that take longer ( Laundry over Shower) I start my day with. Before I know it, lunch time is 30 minutes away and my list is 90% done.
This isn’t meant to make you feel bad or deter you from completing tasks. I wrote it to motivate and help. If this doesn’t pertain to you, than you’re very lucky and keep on doing what you’re doing. But if you are one of the ones, like myself, that have a hard time getting motivated, then I suggest trying a few of these helpful tips and see how they work for yourself.