Forget motivation. Think “momentum.” I’ve borrowed this phrase from my work with clients who have ADHD, a brain based condition, because it can work for a lot of us these days, ADHD or not.
Motivation comes from us internally. That takes a lot of internal awareness and control. You may not be there yet, or if you have ADHD, your brain has less of what it needs for the “just do it” sort of motivation. That’s normal for ADHD brains.
Momentum is an external-to-you strategy (set of strategies sometimes). A practical one.
Which of these sound like you or do you agree/disagree with?
- -Our belief: motivation has to be there to work on certain projects.
- -It’s an internal job.
- -It’s an emotion. A feeling.
- -You have it or you don’t is a common belief. Either/or, no in between is a common belief.
- -If we run our days on what we are motivated to do, we’re running the day on what we feel like doing. That often doesn’t match with what we need to do.
- -Our belief: it’s about movement, rolling along. We start and pick up speed as we get going.
- -It’s an external or an internal job, not exclusively internal, like motivation is.
- -Momentum is an action word. We move ahead in small or larger steps. But we move.
- -It’s not an “either/or,” “have/don’t have.” Most would say it’s a gradual process of “picking up” momentum to move at a faster pace.
- -If we run our days on momentum alone, this, too, may not match with what we need to do. If you get so much momentum going that you cannot stop working on your project (hyperfocused), then other projects are sacrificed. You’ve said “no” to them, by spinning like a top on the first one, and can’t stop without a timer or other strategies outside your mind.
If you wait for motivation or try to create it, does that work to get yourself focused on priorities ? Nope.
If you could “gather momentum” on a project, could that be more reliable, so that you meet your goals/results/dreams? Yes.
And paired with a task list you prioritize the night before the workday, when you can set true priorities based on what needs to be done …. how does that sound? Less about motivatin or more about momentum.
If you’re working at home now, these concepts matter a lot as you set your structure for your days.
- Set your priorities the night before the workday. It’s easier to ignore the “I don’t feel like working on that” emotion than it is in the morning, because your roadmap is ready by then.
- If it’s tough to get started in the morning, choose some small tasks – not email though – to get your brain in gear. If you must read email, check ONLY for the high priorities, get those answered, and leave the rest until you’ve accomplished a few things on your own list. Otherwise, emails can run your entire day and you’ll spend the day responding to others’ priorities, which often are not your full set of priorities.
- Take some time in the morning before heading to work. 15-30 minutes for quiet time where you do what you want to do. Start your day focused on you; it’ll ground you the rest of your day and start the day quietly versus the chaos of email with others asking you for things.
- Tidy up your list for the day.
- Start your workday with something you want to do. Mornings tend to be the most energetic, creative times, after
that initial “gearing up” phase. For example, I love to write, so I often start with a blog, a series of suggestions to a client through email, or outlining a project. What gives you the most joy or interest? That can give you gas in the tank to fuel your day.
- Eat breakfast. If you’re not hungry right when you get up in the morning, grab the breakfast and bring it to your desk to eat whenever you’re hungry. But get that protein and energy into your body to help.
- Usual advice is to start out with the hardest thing, so you get it off your mind. I offer an adaptation: start with something you enjoy, then focus time on the hard thing. Maybe you get it all done or outline on paper how you’ll attack it – project, phone call, etc. And decide on when you’ll handle it that day.
- Take breaks. Schedule them in if you need to. They refresh your mind which helps with momentum.
- When you finish a task, give yourself a reward. Examples: 5 minute nature break; go see your spouse; eat some protein, figure out what you want to do after work.
- Make a call to a colleague, client, friend; reach out for social support.
- A timer can provide momentum, because you’ll race against it which gets you moving.
My Usual Reminder
Anytime I suggest strategies, I have to remind that it is up to you, since you know yourself best, to:
- imagine yourself using the strategy
- decide if it seems like it could work, perhaps with a small change
- experiment with the strategy for a week, taking note of how you adapt it, of days you did use it or did not (what made it possible/not possible?)
- try another if that’s not the right one.
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