Executive Function Strategies Blog

6 Simple Motivation Hacks for a More Productive Life

“Not another meal to prepare!” “I wish I was motivated to work-out.”  “I just didn’t have the time to do that today."

Sometimes a walk or a drive with your child can help you have a difficult discussion

Sound familiar? You're certainly not alone - getting motivated isn't always easy. We all have those days where the routines get stale and even getting out of bed becomes an arduous task. In this article, I'm going to share my six simple motivating hacks that I use every day to live a more productive life. Hopefully, you can take a few of these and apply them in your own life to overcome those days when it's tough to get going and accomplish what you need.

Hack #1: Salt your bed! 

Years ago, a friend taught me a dieter’s trick. She said if you are sitting at a table, and you have eaten your fill, and you don’t want to continue to eat more and more, douse your food with salt to relieve your temptation to overeat. So simple. While I have never actually done this with food, I have used the idea behind this practice for so many things in my life. I used to get up in the morning with my alarm, turn it off, and snuggle right back into bed, deliciously falling back asleep. Obviously, relishing this sleep pattern caused problems - but I finally figured out an easy solution. Now in the mornings, I “salt my bed!” I moved my alarm to the other side of the room so I have to get up to turn it off. But wait - there's more! In fact, the next thing I did changed my behavior forever. Before I turn off my alarm, I make my bed. Just like adding extra salt to the plate makes food less desirable, that simple act of pulling up the covers and neatening the bed (while the alarm is blaring in my ear) makes the bed seem less appealing. Looking at the tidy bed with fluffy pillows and neat covers makes the bed look not-so-cozy, so I am able to start my day without getting derailed by extra snoozing temptation.

Hack #2: Dress for (workout) success

Next, throw out your PJs! I now go to sleep in my work-out clothes. I have so many excuses not to work out, but if I look down and I’m dressed for exercise, I pretty much have to get it done. I also keep my sneakers in a place that I almost trip on them when I wake up. It takes more effort to ignore all those workout cues than it does to just roll out that yoga mat and get on with your downward dog.

Hack #3: Planning an easy breakfast

As you read this, you realize I am not a morning person so I needed some hacks. So, every night before bed I station my vitamins next to my coffee cup and I never forget to take them anymore. As for breakfast, no more junk for me or my family. I make a hearty pot of oatmeal on the weekend and freeze the rest in single-portion containers. Pop it into the microwave and I have an easy, healthy start to the day. Or at night, I will put fruit and yogurt into a blender and put it in the refrigerator. In the morning, add ice and blend and have a smoothie to start the day.

Hack #4: Harness the power of The Goodie Bag

When my kids were toddlers and we went out to eat in a restaurant, I would bring what we called “The Goodie Bag.” It contained every fun little toy that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on. And the ultimate allure - the only time they could play with the “The Goodie Bag” was while seated in a restaurant. They kept amused and mostly cooperative while the adults at the table got a chance to actually eat food while it was still warm. Talk about a win/win!

Today, I motivate myself with a “goodie bag” of my own.  

  • Working out - By now you may realize how much I used to dread exercise, but not anymore! With my “goodie bag” hack, I actually look forward to working out! I keep all the TV shows that I am hankering to see on reserve (or shall I say in the bag). You know, the addictive ones...those that you might even be embarrassed to admit that you watch? I won’t allow myself to turn them on at any time other than working out. It feels extra special to give yourself permission to watch the shows you really crave. When I am running alongside the members of the Amazing Race, time flies!
  • Laundry, cleaning, and/or cooking - I always give myself a treat while doing it. I don’t have a lot of time to read but I love audiobooks (I download them for free from my library) and podcasts- and you guessed it - I will only allow myself to listen to them while doing something productive.  I have cleaned my whole house in one chapter!

Hack #5: Drive (or walk) Therapy

Have you been putting off uncomfortable subjects that you need to talk to your kids about? Try this hack. Go for a walk with them or a drive in the car. No kid wants to see your face when you are talking about embarrassing or upsetting things! And frankly, you may not want them to watch your squirm. While walking or driving, they are a bit of a captive audience - yet not face-to-face - which allows the conversations to flow. My kids learned about the birds and the bees and how best to deal with bullies while traveling down highways and that’s also when they shared their uncomfortable conundrums and concerns with me. It allows open talk space while not focusing on the expression on each other’s faces. You will be surprised how much closer you can get to your kids when the conversation itself doesn't seem so front-and-center.

Hack #6: Clock? More Like Competition!

My last hack - beat the clock. There is almost nothing I don’t do without my timer during the day. Finding it on my phone, yelling to Alexa, or touching my smartwatch, I am always setting the timer. (Right now, I have 5 minutes left to finish writing this article!) Setting a timer helps me to stick to a deadline, stay focused on a task, and gives me a little sense of competition. Can I clean the counter in 5 minutes? If there is something that I really don’t want to do, I’ll set my timer for 5 minutes, and begin. When you think you will only be working for 5-minutes, you'll find you can be willing to start almost anything!

Now set your timer, go for a drive with your kid, salt your bed, throw out your PJs, and create a special goodie bag that you cannot wait to open! These simple hacks to motivate yourself can help you become more productive and effective.

Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash


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