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How To Stay Motivated.

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This week, how do you motivate yourself when you are just not in the mood to do any work?

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Episode 280 | Script

Hello and welcome to episode 280 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

How often do you wake up in the morning with a long list of to-dos and just want to crawl back under your duvet? Or come back from lunch, look at your desk and just go “naw, just not in the mood”?

If it’s more times that you would like, you are not alone. If you are a living human being, it’s going to happen. You are going to have good days and bad. It’s perfectly normal and not something you should beat yourself up about. However, sometimes that lack of motivation to do the work, can be untimely. You may have a deadline, an urgent matter to deal with or some preparation for a meeting to complete. What can you do in these circumstances? Well, that’s the topic of this week’s podcast. 

And so, to get things started, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Mohammed, Mohammed asks, Hi Carl, how do you stay so motivated each day? I really struggle with this. When I get up in the morning, I feel demotivated and just don’t want to get up. Do you have any suggestions on how to wake up feeling more motivated? 

Hi Mohammed, thank you for your question. 

There are a number ways you can wake up feeling more motivated and energised for the day. One simple trick is to make sure you get enough sleep. We all need between six and eight hours of sleep each night although we differ on the optimum number—for example, I discovered I needed seven hours, twenty minutes, not the six I thought I needed, I’ve learnt if I sleep less than seven hours, I will not have a very productive day and will likely need to take a nap sometime in the early afternoon. 

You can discover your optimum daily sleep hours by doing a simple test. For one week, sleep with no alarm and track how many hours you sleep. At the end of the seven days, total up the number of hours you slept and divide it by seven. That will give you the number of hours you actually need, rather than guessing the number. 

Once you know your optimum number of sleep hours, set yourself a going to bed time (thirty minutes before you need to be asleep) and stick to it. 

I know this may require you to change a few things. If you are in the habit of scrolling social media or watching TV late at night, you may need to adjust the amount of time you spend doing these things. But I can assure you once you dial in your sleep patterns, you will soon find yourself waking up feeling a lot better than you likely do right now. 

While sleep is not going to affect your motivation, it will ensure you have the energy to get through the day. 

Now, what about motivation. This has everything to do with your mindset about the work you do. If you see your work purely in monetary terms, you are going to feel demotivated. Money as has been discovered is a poor long-term motivator. Sure if someone offered you a lot of money to do something, it’s probable you will do it as long as it does not conflict with your personal values—after all the saying “everyone has their price” is largely true. But is it the money that motivates you or what you think you could do with the money? 

As Daniel Pink discovered several years ago, there’s an amount of money you need to earn to live and anything above that figure will not motivate you. Daniel Pink set that amount at around $70,000 per year. Beyond that, because it does not affect your ability to eat, have a roof over your head or the financial ability to take a holiday once or twice a year, money no longer provides an incentive. (Although we think it does) It might be nice to buy an expensive watch or to own a luxury beach-side villa in the Mediterranean, but your needs—food, and shelter are taken care of and material things are not going to motivate you when it comes to getting up in the morning to do your work. 

I’m currently reading about Robert Maxwell. In case you do not know, Robert Maxwell was the chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers in the 1980s and early 1990s. (If you are listening in the US, Maxwell also bought the New York Daily News) Maxwell, it turns out was a crook. He was stealing money from not only his public companies, he also stole his employees pension funds and owed multiple banks many millions of dollars when he died in 1991. 

Maxwell didn’t steal all this money because he wanted more material things. He already had a helicopter, private jet, a yacht and multiple homes. He stole this money because he desperately wanted to maintain his identity and reputation. His self image prevented him from being able to cut back his excesses and it ultimately destroyed him and many thousands of Mirror Group employees’ pensions. 

Maxwell’s motivation each day was his need to maintain his empire and his image as a high-flying successful business giant. It ultimately failed and he was soon exposed for the person he was. 

However, beyond narcissism—which can be a very powerful motivator, What does motivate people is the sense we are doing something worthwhile. And that is controlled by what we want to accomplish in life. 

My first job was cleaning the changing areas in a hotel health club. It was three hours a day six days a week and I loved it. It was not the work that I loved, that was hard, but I saw it as an education. I was given autonomy on what I cleaned and when and that allowed me to feel I was in control. I took pride in ensuring the showers were spotless when I had finished. That the floors were clean and the towels were neatly stacked in each changing room. I learned about systems and processes for getting my work done and it began my fascination with how to accomplish my work in the most efficient way. 

All my early jobs taught me valuable lessons. I saw each one as an education and valuable experience. Working in hotels taught me the importance of standards. Selling cars taught me about the art of selling, working in law taught me about integrity and professionalism. 

No matter what work you do, whether you love it or hate it, it is giving you an education. You don’t become the CEO directly out of university, you have to learn through experience, make mistakes and understand the intricacies and nuances of managing people. You don’t become a surgeon straight out of medical school. You have to do your shifts in the emergency rooms, do the rounds and learn from your peers. 

When you begin the day, you have a new opportunity to learn something and move your career forward. You also have the choice to go into to work and complain about how much you hate it, come home, scroll through social media looking at people doing what you want to do and feeling jealous and thinking about how unfair life is. 

You also have the choice to go into work and instead of hating what you do, look for ways to improve it. It wasn’t pleasant scrubbing walls in the showers, but I learned how to do it better and even today, I use what I learned when I clean my bathroom. Weirdly, I feel a sense of pride in my abilities to clean a bathroom and make a bed (another thing I learned working in hotels) 

What else can you do to motivate yourself to get up in the morning? One trick that works is to have a morning routine you love doing. Something you look forward to doing. For instance, making my morning coffee, writing my journal and cleaning my email inbox is pure joy for me. I look forward to sitting down with my coffee and writing whatever’s in my mind into my journal. I also enjoy clearing my email inbox. I have no idea what will be in there. There could be problems, kind comments, newsletters and spam. Each day is different. I also gamify it by timing how fast I can clear my inbox. I especially enjoy the days where I have 100+ emails to process. Learning those in less than 25 minutes always makes me smile. 

What would you love doing in a morning that will take less than forty-five minutes? Experiment, and see what excites you. 

Another way to avoid that dread of a new day is to ensure you have a plan for the day before you go to bed. This is a psychological trick you can use that will motivate you in a morning called “implementation intention”. Your plan for the day gives you the intention to get it done. Writing these out in a journal in a morning reinforces it. For instance, I could have begun today by planning to write this podcast script. I would have make sure that was flagged in my task manger before I finished the previous day and when I wrote my journal I would write it out again. 

Be careful here, if you write more than two or three things you will fail. There are too many unknowns that could come at you in the day, so limiting it to two tasks makes it doable no matter what is thrown at you. 

Finally, what are your long term goals. Where do you want to be in five, ten or twenty years time? If you don’t know what’s the point of getting up in a morning? You don’t have to have lofty expansive goals, it could be you want to learn something new such as photography, or graphic design. Perhaps you would like to learn to swim or play golf. Having something to aim for gives you purpose and purpose gives you motivation and motivation gives you energy. 

So there you go, Mohammed. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, you have the right mindset for your work or studies, that you have a plan for the day and you have something long-term to aim for. It surprising how these can transform your life and make getting up in the morning something you are excited about. 

Thank you for your question and than you to you too for listening. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week. 


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