Punching up your #MondayMotivation Mantra
Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change. – Unknown
It's 5 o'clock Monday evening and after a flurry of weekly status calls and hours of KonMaring your inbox (finding little joy), you might feel like you just survived the "Battle of the Bastards." It's about this time that you remember that very important project to-do list you so diligently and proudly laid out late Friday afternoon. Monday morning rolls around, you don't feel great. You're just going to try to get through the day. Let's be honest, you didn't really forget about the list, you just chose not to focus on it. Instead you decided to multitask away all the less meaningful stuff. Although multitasking may feel productive and does get those small dashboard items accomplished, according to a recent piece on Thrive Global, the long term negative effect they have on our brain could be counter-productive:
“It ruins productivity, causes mistakes, and impedes creative thought…. As humans, we have a very limited capacity for simultaneous thought, we can only hold a little bit of information in the mind at any single moment.” (Thrive Global, "9 Ways Multitasking is Killing Your Brain and Productivity, According to Neuroscientists.")
So what's the problem: motivation? focus? interest? If it's interest, you may want to see a career counselor - I won't be covering that in this blog post. BUT if it's motivation and focus, I've got a few thoughts that might help. With all those "hashtag Monday Motivation" posts and quotes and videos, it can feel suffocating - false starts left and right. And if you are like myself, who works remotely, without bosses and co-workers to push you, the beauty of self-employment rears its ugly side all too often.
Eventually I decided to take time to understand what simple things I can do to correct this behavior and how I can best set myself up for success. So I came up with my own little Monday Motivation Mantra (good for any day of the week): Create an Atmosphere, Balance the Noise and Clear your Head.
Create an Atmosphere: Finding the right location for your computer in your office or cubicle, room in the house or in a coffee shop in order to be productive can be an ongoing challenge. I find it best to find a place with just the right amount of visual engagement; people going about their business (this could be people working at this space or neighbors walking by with their dogs), artwork/pictures/books to spark creative thoughts and a sense of peacefulness, and a good workspace (a table and comfortable chair - keep the space clear of all clutter). If you have the luxury of being near a window - great!- just don't let what's on the other side of it be too chaotic. And don't face the window, have it be off to the side so it's there when you need a break from your screen. You know what feels right. If a library is too sterile, try a local Starbucks, too much commotion? Perhaps a museum. Bottom line, find out what works for you.
Balance the Noise (or distraction): Hand and hand with atmosphere is noise. and gentle distraction. "Gentle distraction"?? Ok, so this is what I mean. You don't want it to be too loud so that it creates anxiety. People arguing, talking loudly on their phones or having a tense personal conversation within earshot. A gentle roll of sounds that blends into each other works best. Next headphones. You'll likely going to need these. Especially if you work in an office and trying to get into that "motivation zone." And your choice of music is EVERYTHING here. What I tend to do is listen to a variety of music, maybe music selected by Spotify or Pandora that match a song, group or genre that you've chosen. When I find a song that seem to speak to my inner motivation beast, I save it to my play list - either my "Songs to Work to" or "Songs to Write to" (each has very different needs). Depending on the project, different sounds may resonate. Working on a presentation, perhaps some Pearl Jam or Drake, to pump of the energy. Writing - I always love me a little Damien Rice or Pink Floyd. But you know your groove best - go with it.
Clear your Head: Just like taking a shower, making our bed or tidying up our workspace before we start our day or begin a big project, we also need to clear our heads. Some say exercise can actually make you smarter. Now exercise doesn't have to be an all out boot camp, it can be a short run, 20 minutes of jumping jacks or push-ups or yoga and meditation. Or blast yourself some Metallica and dance it off (Gronk-style). Shake off all that anxiety and stress you may have woken up with this morning. Clear your mind of all the meaningless tasks cluttering your head (your broken windshield wiper, those unread emails (let them sit there!), last night's Grammy's (you catch my drift)).
So let's all do 1 giant Lion's Breath and punch today in the face!
One note: I am not an expert on motivation. I'm not a coach nor do I represent a lifestyle brand (in real life or TV) but I am someone we tends to lack motivation and focus. And I'm hoping these tricks that I've learned might help you too.