Friday, January 29, 2010

Motivation and Ways to Wake Up Early

One of my readers sent me the following email in response to my 6 Reasons to Wake up Early article:

Feeling the annual winter-lack-of-motivation-I-don't-want-to-get-up blues...
Why do I want to get up early? Because by the end of the work day I'm exhausted, and have no interest in doing anything except lying on the couch and reading (which I think is okay, sortof). But I like the IDEA of using some time in the morning to clean, organize, write a note to a friend, search the web for fun, exercise. I somehow can motivate to exercise at night (usually, but not everyday and it should be), but that's all I do: Get up, go to work, walk the dog, exercise, read on the couch, go to bed. BLAHHHHH!

So I thought I'd do a little Dear Abby here and respond with ideas that might help.

Although I do have ideas, I will say I'm nowhere near perfect with any of this stuff. I'm still learning it. One of the reasons I write about stuff like this is the more I write about it, or teach, the more I learn. Teaching is a great way to learn.

We take action if it's more rewarding than not taking action, or we take action if it's uncomfortable for us to not take action. So the best way to get action to happen is to add to the pain, or add to the pleasure.

So some ideas include:

1. Adding a reward to an activity is a great way to get it done. So think of the things that you can use as rewards and allow yourself to do those if you get it done. For me, I like drinking tea and I don't drink tea until I get certain tasks or chores done.

2. Think of things you can do to add punishment and add punishment for not doing things. So if you like to read a particular book, don't let yourself read that particular book unless you've done something else. Figure out a few punishments you can use.

3. One thing that causes me to take action is if I understand my WHYs well, So I like making a list of the whys because that increases my drive and my motivation.

4. Often analyzing why we are not doing something is a great way to move us forward. For example, if you wake up in the morning and don't hop out of bed because your bedroom is cold, perhaps you should have a setback thermostat that turns the heat up before you get up.

I often find I procrastinate on projects because I'm missing a piece of information or don't know how to do something. Identifying why I'm not doing something is a great way of moving me forward.

5. Recognizing your limits is also important. Especially when I was younger would often have completely unrealistic goals and therefore I would not accomplish as much as I thought I would. One thing that's given me great hope though is we tend to accomplish less in a day than we think we can and do accomplish more in a year or a decade.

So what I'm saying is if you can't do your goals, perhaps you're trying to be too disciplined and perhaps you're not giving yourself enough "time off".

When I'm working on my goals, I delete from my list anything I'm not prepared to spend at least an hour a week on and what I often have is something on my goals list, wake up 3 or 4 weeks later and find I haven't spent the hour so I take it off my goals list and it becomes a not now.

6. Tracking is another trick on getting things done. The simple act of writing down things you want to do and giving yourself your own little star can be motivational enough to do it. Sounds strange, but it works.

7. I like making games of things and one of my favorite games is chaining. What I try to do is build a chain of doing things right. So I try to build a chain of number of days I get up before a certain time, or number of days that I work out and then if I break the chain, then the next chain I try to build it longer. This gives me something to keep striving for.

Any more Dear Jim letters I should answer?


At 7:59 AM, Blogger Gerhard Peters said...

I’m like you…not nearly perfect at being a good time manager. I have started to wonder if time management is more about following common sense then learning. I have stop reading about it and other self help literature. I still read your blog though but mostly read theory and philosophy books. Perhaps we as human beings are just poor at following common sense. Now I just try my best realizing I will never be perfect. What do you think?


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