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The Motivational Buffet: Serve Yourself

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am a cruel taskmaster, I know. But if I've got to get motivated and report into She Who Keeps Me Accountable in the Book Writing World, I figure I might as well share some of my time management and accountability energy with you. (Or something like that.) And since I have this thing about providing information about different approaches to every issue, I thought I'd serve up this buffet of various motivational approaches. Feel free to take a taste of everything to see what you like best. Just realize that you might go home with an upset stomach if you take giant helpings of all the motivational approaches at once. It may be too much for anyone with a less than a steel-lined gastrointestinal tract.

The motivational menu

Full motivation (based on the Weissbluth -- full extinction -- method of sleep training)
You decide how long you want to work at a particular task -- one hour, two hours, whatever -- and you set a timer for yourself and work at that task for that particular time period. When the timer rings, you're done. You can't make excuses and decide five minutes into the motivational period that you really don't want to do the task after all or you'll teach yourself that you don't really mean it when you make a commitment to yourself to get a task done.

Modified motivation (based on the Ferber -- partial extinction -- method of sleep training)
You set a timer for 30 minutes -- or whatever duration of time works for you -- and check in with yourself to see how you're doing. If you're becoming unduly distressed as you try to get the job done, give yourself a five minute comfort break to reassure yourself that this hell called work won't last forever. Stretch or get a glass of water, but don't allow yourself to turn on daytime TV or check your email or go to Facebook. (You're trying to train your brain to stay in work mode, not play mode, remember?)

Gentle motivation (based on gentle or no-cry methods of sleep training)
You come up with a plan for gradually altering the habits that keep you from getting down to work and staying on task. The first week, you spend some time sitting in your work chair and closing your eyes, getting truly comfortable in your work space. The next week, you open your eyes and pick up your pen. You may not break any productivity records, but what you sacrifice in productivity you'll more than make up in bliss (unless, of course, you have a pressing deadline and an impatient boss).

Right on time motivation (based on the routine-based sleep training methods like The Baby Whisperer plus advice from the time management gurus)
You come up with a schedule for yourself that would do any major-league executive proud. Block off time for lunch, email, partner time, one-on-one time with each of your children, volunteer time, exercise time, friendship time, spirituality time, me time (you're going to have a perfectly balanced life -- come on!), and then use the rest of your time for productive work. If the resulting schedule doesn't leave any time to actually do work, then rev up with caffeine (coffee time) and multitask (efficiency time).

Your own motivational approach (what you've learned about motivating yourself over the years by trusting your own instincts and taking into account the realities of your own life)
Maybe you've figured out that one part gentle motivation ("a teapot at my side while I write") plus one part boot camp-style motivation ("lock me in my office and hold all calls until I get this report written") plus one part your own secret ingredient (spill the beans, please) works best for you.

Related:
Summaries of the major approaches to sleep training
Multitasking -- my link collection devoted to the topic of why multitasking is highly overrated and D*I*Y Planner: Time Management
Confessions of a Dangerously Cluttered Mind

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| posted by Ann D @ 10:36 AM