Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Creating Creatures of Habit: More on Motivation

In an earlier post, I stressed the importance of keeping motivated in order to maintain creative productivity in life and career. One way to increase your efficiency in trying to be more productive is to create a routine, or good habits, to build your schedule around.

When you have programmed yourself into a good habit of a balanced lifestyle, it makes it easier to put yourself on "auto pilot" and go through your daily routine without much effort. This allows you time to zone-out on cruise control and have your mind in one place, while your hands may be doing dishes, or traveling for your next errand.

Maintaining that balanced lifestyle of physical activity, work and home responsibilities, and mental stimulation/relaxation helps give you scheduled times to be free to do your own thing. These time management tips can help you build better habits, and stronger motivation to be creative in everything you do.

For example, having a scheduled based around a normal 8-5 work day, Monday through Friday, you can give yourself an hour before or after work to go to the gym or be active Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday and Thursdays after work you can set aside an hour or two for reading, a creative project, or social events. On the weekends, it's very easy to sleep in and stay up late, but it will throw off your rhythm for the following week if you're not too careful. On Sundays, if you spend enough time preparing food for lunch and dinners for the next week, you have that much more time during the work week to do other things.

Giving yourself enough time to get a good amount of sleep each night, and physically exerting yourself enough to keep your body processing a well balanced diet will greatly increase your ability to wake up on time and be energetic, as well as keeping that level of energy through the day.

You'll find yourself worrying less about basic needs and household chores if there's a set time to address those issues as opposed to waiting until guests come over to vacuum, etc. This rule also applies to time management techniques at work. Set a specific time for answering emails between bigger effort tasks to decrease the amount of time spent in transition.

Your needs change, and so should your schedule. It may be difficult to structure your lifestyle to a strict schedule, but it's a dynamic learning experience. Try a few set tasks at certain intervals of the week, and work out what fits your rhythm best. After a few tasks are programmed into your day, add a few more and see how it changes your attitude and energy level.

When in doubt, make a list! Having a written list of tasks to accomplish helps you prioritize your goals, and can act as a constant reminder that you want this. The following are a few sample lists:

  • Basic Needs List: dishes, cleaning, pick up kids, paying bills, grocery shopping
  • Social Needs List: movie nights, date nights, sports events
  • Exercise Needs List: goal per week/month, cardio, weights, weight loss
  • Project List: educational reading, new tutorials, gardening, crafting, photography

Keep things in perspective. If you're not sure how much your daily schedule has changed since your routine shift, take a few minutes to sum up what you accomplished that day. Have a personal SCRUM each morning. Let yourself know what you had to to yesterday, what you accomplished, and what you have to do today. Then break up your tasks into manageable pieces, and get motivated to cross them off your list.

Writing them down will allow you to look back and compare your accomplishments from last week and this week. You'll begin to see great progress, and that sense of accomplishment is a great fuel for motivation.

After a few weeks of working in your new cruise control pattern, you should be able to notice a happier, more creative you. You'll feel more motivated to tackle new projects, and finish the ones you've started. One of the greatest feelings in the world is crossing something off a list, and when you build good habits, you'll find yourself happier, healthier, and more creative on a daily basis.

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