The wrong way to get motivated

watching TV war movie (military jet) with feet on table, eating snacks


Start your day by not preparing anything the night before. Don’t ruminate or research anything. Make sure your workplace is messy and unorganized. Don’t clean your workplace the night before.

Wake up late. In fact, set your alarm and hit the snooze button 3 or 4 times. Heck, hit it a dozen times. When you get up, go watch TV for awhile. Don’t even shower or make breakfast. Just lounge around in your pyjamas. While you’re at it, play some video games, or watch cat videos.

Eventually, wander to your workplace. Sit down and watch some more cat videos. It’s also ok to write some meaningless posts on Facebook or Twitter—that’s more important. Now it’s time to actually get some work done. But hold on, there’s that new keyboard you wanted to do research on. The work can wait until you’ve done that. Once that important bit of work is complete open the project file you’ve been working on. Stare at it blankly for a few minutes. It’s ok to do nothing at this point, after all, we’re just getting revved up. Open the text document with your project notes. Oh. It’s empty as we haven’t actually written anything yet. That’s also ok. We need some encouragement to get going so let’s go put on some coffee. But before the coffee maybe we should actually shower.

So now we’ve showered and got the coffee on. Why don’t we look at the newspaper while we’re waiting for the coffee to brew. 45 minutes later we realize we actually have to do some work. We amble back to the office and sit down again. At least we feel a bit more human, all squeaky clean and have some caffeine in our system. Let’s open up that file again.

We sit blankly, staring at the screen. Perhaps we should have thought about what we wanted to work on the night before. No matter, we’ll come up with something, even if it isn’t on target with our audience. Let’s try to get 15 minutes of work done. At least it’ll be a start.

Ten minutes into your work your buddy calls and wants to drop by for a visit. Seems he’s having problems with his laptop. “No problem”,  you tell him, as it gets your mind off your work. Your buddy shows up and spends two hours at your place while you troubleshoot his laptop. You were able to fix the problem, and he leaves pretty happy. You’re happy you were able to help him out.

It’s now 1PM. Time for some some lunch. The work can wait. You amble to the kitchen and make yourself a yummy sandwich. While eating you decide it would be a good idea to put on that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to watch. Things get a bit out of hand and at 3 o’clock you make your way back to your office. For the next hour you actually do some work. You get some writing done, you do some online research (without actually looking at your Facebook posts) and you clean out some emails.

Feeling good about what you were able to accomplish in an hour, you decide you deserve a reward. You go downstairs , fix yourself a snack, and fire up Netflix again. Hey, there’s always tomorrow. The work will get done. Eventually.

Ok, so this was a bit of hyperbole, but I wanted to make a point. It’s easy to make excuses. So many things chip away at our time. Learn to say no, and start carving out blocks of uninterrupted time to work. Turn off your notifications, put your phone in airplane mode. They will still be there later on. Let your family know you need uninterrupted time to work. Put a sign on the door. Put a red rope around your office or workplace.

A professional doesn’t make excuses.