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Tag Archives: advice to get motivated

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Everyone has a pulse…and I’m not talking about the beating of your heart. Your “second pulse” is the rhythm you experience throughout the day—your ebbs and flows of energy. Some people get a burst of energy in the morning; others experience this in the afternoon or evening. And then there are times when you feel depleted and distracted—stretches of time during the day when you’re not performing at your peak.

In his book When, researcher Daniel Pink calls these daily lulls your “troughs,” but you can also think of them as your valleys or low points. Since it’s difficult to do your best work during a trough, it can be beneficial to focus on relatively simple busy work during these periods. Save the high-engagement, creative, high-stakes work for the times when your energy is high and you’re feeling motivated.

Here are 4 ways to do that:

Pay Attention

For most people, a daily trough occurs in the afternoon. Our concentration begins to slip, we grow tired, and it’s difficult to think on our feet or be terribly creative. But everyone’s different! That’s why it’s important to pay attention and begin to understand when you’re energized, and when you’re simply not.

You may also notice that your energy tends to increase or decrease during certain days of the week (e.g., low-energy Mondays vs. productive Thursdays) or during certain events (e.g., at the beginning of a new project). If you’re feeling energized, take note! And if you’re not, pay attention to that, too.

Block Off High Energy Times

If possible, block off high energy times on your calendar so no one can bother you during your peak moments. This may require setting a few healthy boundaries and saying “no” to some things (that 8 a.m. meeting), but your efforts should quickly pay off. Additionally, if you get into a pattern of consistently blocking off a certain time period for deep, intense work, your brain will start to anticipate and recognize that this is a time for high productivity.

Batch Tasks

If you’re feeling energetic and creative, take advantage of the moment by batching several tasks that can be done in one sitting. Approaching several tasks at once gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the momentum of your high energy moments and finish more in less time. Plus, you don’t have to waste time switching gears and starting up again if you’re feeling tired or disinterested.

Break It Up

If you find that the task in front of you is too daunting or complicated, don’t be afraid to break it into smaller, manageable pieces. Doing so will enable you to take advantage of moments when your energy is high, without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also a great way to ensure that you’re still making forward progress on large tasks even when your energy is low.

It’s important to pay attention to your daily energy flows and use them to your advantage. If you’re feeling energized, embrace it and tackle tough projects. If you’re feeling drained, that’s OK too – use that time to check off items from your to-do list or catch up on emails. By acknowledging the natural rhythms of energy that come with the passing of time, you can make the most of your high energy moments and effectively manage the ones that are lower.



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It’s never fun to feel completely zapped of energy and willpower. It’s a state of being that makes you feel lethargic and less than productive. And, unfortunately, it’s a state that’s easy to slip into with so many of us still working from home or trying to social distance.

How can you break the lethargy and boost your willpower? How can you escape the cycle of procrastination and drudgery? As tempting as they are, distractions are not the answer. You’ll end up tuning in to the fun/entertaining/relaxing distraction and putting off what you should be doing.

Instead, try one of these five tips:

1. Focus on outcomes

The more you focus on the time beyond your procrastination, the easier it will be to move forward. Think about the positive outcomes that will occur when you do whatever it is you’re putting off. If you’re not looking forward to going to the gym, think about how nice it will be to have a healthy, toned body. If you’re dreading filling out a particular report, think about how happy you’ll be once it’s complete. Focusing on outcomes or positive results can give you the willpower you need to do the task at hand.

2. Set bite-sized goals

If you’re sitting on the brink of a large project and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and set a few bite-sized goals. Every big task can be broken down into smaller parts. If you need to clean your entire garage, for instance, begin by focusing on one particular section (organizing garden tools, for instance, or sweeping the floor). If you have to write a lengthy report, challenge yourself to write a single page or fill out one section. Once you dig in, it will be easier to keep going.

3. Set a reward

Once you’ve determined a few goals, think about how you might reward yourself once they are complete. For smaller goals, you might buy yourself a pint of ice cream or enjoy a glass of wine. For larger goals, you might treat yourself to a nice dinner or a professional massage. Is it bribery? Sure, but it’s bribery with a purpose! Setting rewards will give you something to look forward to and will help give you a jolt of energy and focus.

4. Pinpoint the reason for your reluctance

It’s possible that you’re putting something off because you simply do NOT like it. In some cases, that’s just the way it is; you have to fill out that annual review or write that report, whether you like it or not. In other cases, however, you can change your tasks so they are more enjoyable. For instance, if you do not like running on a treadmill to get in shape, you might switch to a rowing machine or elliptical. If you don’t like cleaning up after dinner, perhaps you could cook, while someone else cleans. At work, you might bring up your likes and dislikes to your boss and see if it’s possible to do more of X and less of Y. Maybe one of your co-workers hates X and loves Y, in which case, you might discuss shuffling responsibilities.

5. Try the 5-minute challenge

What can you do right now, within about 5 minutes? Challenge yourself to set a timer and DO IT. Completing one small task can give you motivation to complete others.

It’s never easy to have low motivation and low willpower, but it is possible to pull yourself out of your slump. Try one (or several) of these 5 tips and see how you feel. Chances are, you just need some forward motion in your life to give you the momentum to keep going.


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Are you in a summertime slump

For those of you who live in cold climates like I do, you welcome summertime and everything it brings—picnics, swimming, strolls in the park, bike rides. During the chilly winter months, you envision spending time in the sunshine…and not having to don a down coat and pair of boots whenever you want to venture outside.

When summer comes, it has an energizing effect. Your mood lifts, you finally have enough vitamin D, you’re full of plans and expectations.

But what people often do not think about is their work. Even though summer has arrived, work does not simply end (unless you have a seasonal occupation). We still have to work through bright and sunny days; we still have to show up.

Even though we may feel energized outside of work, the opposite might occur during work. Your motivation might dwindle or your concentration might wander as you think of being outside, enjoying the weather.

Furthermore, many people go on vacation over the summer, so it’s sometimes difficult to complete team projects or use others as a resource. As says, “Summer is nearly always a slow season. You, your team members and your customers are either breezing away on weeks-long vacations (or wish they were), and those who are in office are struggling to cover their teammates’ absences and keep up with demand.”

With low motivation, absent team members, and the constant desire to be outside, it’s easy to fall behind during the summer…which can make you feel even less enthusiastic to come to work.

What to do?

1. Try working in shorter bursts.

Look at your clock and tell yourself, “Okay, I’m going to work for XX number of minutes without taking a break. Ready go!” Start small and gradually increase your work time.

2. Set goals

Write down three tangible things you’d like to accomplish today. If you’re working on a large project, what bite-sized item(s) can you accomplish that will help you complete it? (For more on effective goal-setting, visit this blog post.)

3. Move around

Making sure you get your blood pumping and your body moving is important to not only improving your health, but your concentration as well. And don’t forget to move from your desk during the day. Try working in a different location for a few hours and then return to your designated workspace.

4. Set challenges for others

If you’re in a leadership position, get your team motivated by setting up friendly challenges. It helps to focus on a short period of time (such as two or four weeks) so you can maintain enthusiasm for the competition. Consider giving rewards that people actually value, such as a half day (or two) of paid time off.

5. Bring summer to the workplace

Just because you’re in the office, doesn’t mean you have to pretend like summer isn’t happening! Have lunch on a patio, invite co-workers out to ice cream, or wear bright summery outfits. As a leader (or an HR manager), you could also plan company outings every once in a while that take advantage of the nice weather. Try going to a baseball game, having a company picnic, or doing some outdoor volunteer work together.


Carry some of your summertime energy into the workplace. It’s amazing what a small shift in attitude (and a little planning!) can do. Besides, while others are in their workplace slump, you can take advantage of the season and rise to the top. Your dedication will be noticed.

Contact me for other ideas on how to shake your summertime slump!


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