Oct 16, 2020
“Not another meal to prepare!” “I wish I was motivated to work-out.” “I just didn’t have the time to do that today."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Diana Horan, MEd, is an executive function coach at Beyond BookSmart, a certified teacher and classroom training facilitator with over a dozen years of experience working with students in traditional and nontraditional settings. A graduate of The State University of New York at New Paltz, with a Master of Education in Professional Education Leadership and Policy from Seton Hall University, Diana has worked with students of all ages and levels. Diana holds three certifications: Child Assault Prevention, Bully Prevention and Cyber Empowerment.